They Say We’re Winning in Khost, Pt. III

by Joshua Foust on 6/25/2008 · 8 comments

For a couple of months now, Afghanistan experts like Barnett Rubin and enthusiasts (for lack of a better term) like me (I? do I say “I?”) have been warning about the increased levels of violence in the East—right where some new-fangled counterinsurgency tactics, lovingly described by clueless journalists, were meant to be most effective. The LA Times, apparently bored with remarking at how remarkable it is that those barbaric Afghans love their cellphones too, is now finally noting that this year in RC-East violence is up nearly 40%—a number that speaks poorly of the current strategy there.

Meanwhile, ABC, during some of its 12 short minutes of annual coverage of the country, notes that the U.S. military blames the Pakistanis because… well, they certainly can’t blame themselves, can they? It’s not like the most fashionable brand of counterinsurgency theory, lovingly hand-crafted by the likes of Petraeus and Nagl, is fundamentally flawed for the ways it treats regular people like aircraft engines (or worse yet, barely-trained dogs). No, despite having little or no relation to how things are going in Iraq, the theoretical basis of our warfighting isn’t in question. It’s really those damned Pakistanis for knowing how to handle their own problems better than we do.

Maybe in the future, CBS can expand its yearly coverage of Afghanistan to—dare we hope?—eight and a half minutes to explore this some more? Alas, hope is not a strategy, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Previously:
They Say We’re Winning in Khost
They Say We’re Winning in Khost, pt. II
The Media Hates You, Pt. Whatever


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 8 comments }

Rabia June 25, 2008 at 3:42 pm

It looks like the situation is really heating up in the tribal areas of Pakistan, too, with the government promising a military operation within the week. (another story from today)

hannah June 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Technically, you would say “like I,” because it’s equivalent to the subject. (“Me have been writing…” vs. “I have been writing…”) Realistically, you sound silly if you write like I. Enjoy. =D

Anonymous June 26, 2008 at 3:43 pm

I’ve been reading your stuff for a while, and have concluded that you are pretty far over your head.

You spend way too much of your time playing grad school “parse-the-argument-and-more-importantly-the-argumentation” games, and way too little of your time actually observing the region at first hand.

Consequently, your posts affect a predictably pretty-thoughtful, highly-critical, grad-studentish “sneer’, but offer little in the way of practical advice, or even any original personal observations from Afghanistan.

This is a shame, because you seem like a sharp kid.

Anonymous June 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Mr. Registan –

I’ve been reading your stuff for a while, and have concluded that you are in pretty far over your head.

You spend way too much of your time playing grad school “parse-the-argument-and-more-importantly-the-argumentation” games, and way too little of your time actually observing the region at first hand.

Consequently, your posts affect a predictably pretty-thoughtful, highly-critical, grad-studentish “sneer’, but offer little in the way of practical advice, or even any original personal observations from Afghanistan.

This is a shame, because you seem like a sharp kid.

Michael Hancock June 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Let me know when the next “Mr. Registan” competition comes up. I’d like to be in contention for the honor next year! My swimming suit is around here somewhere…

Just kidding! Anyway, Anonymous, I think that Josh’s critique of policy is just that – a critique. He’s not saying he has the best answers, but there’s nothing wrong with holding an educated opinion. There are certainly degrees of education! Just as Josh always makes way before comments from regional experts, returned military personnel, and others that have spent a decent amount of time in the region.

As for the sneer, I assure you that’s just his style. 🙂

Anyway, Registanға Кош Келдіңіздер! Hope you continue to read and comment. I’ll be putting up some more Kazakhstan-related articles soon – and some reviews. I wonder what Nathan’s cooking up…

Michael Hancock June 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Let me know when the next “Mr. Registan” competition comes up. I’d like to be in contention for the honor next year! My swimming suit is around here somewhere…

Just kidding! Anyway, Anonymous, I think that Josh’s critique of policy is just that – a critique. He’s not saying he has the best answers, but there’s nothing wrong with holding an educated opinion. There are certainly degrees of education! Just as Josh always makes way before comments from regional experts, returned military personnel, and others that have spent a decent amount of time in the region.

As for the sneer, I assure you that’s just his style. 🙂

Anyway, Registanға Кош Келдіңіз! Hope you continue to read and comment. I’ll be putting up some more Kazakhstan-related articles soon – and some reviews. I wonder what Nathan’s cooking up…

Joshua Foust June 27, 2008 at 4:58 am

Anonymous:

I find it interesting you don’t address the substance of my remarks, but rather my “qualifications” to make them. Apparently thoughtful, critical analysis is now the realm of amateurs? I don’t get it. Similarly, being on the ground is useful, but only to a certain extent — as my analyses of of Western reporting from the area hopefully indicates, being there in person gives one little real advantage in terms of accurately gauging the true state of the country, at least on the random, week-long jaunts most reporters take.

On the other hand, I have the confidence in my own arguments to have them associated with my name. You should try it — taking responsibility for what you say is a remarkable experience.

Through Grace Peace June 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Truth Escapes Satans Grip

I had a dream.
I saw satan swimming slowly, languorously, smiling,
wafting down a river of blood.
More and more as he spread his blood drenched arms
across each bank, people murdered themselves
and murdered their neighbors.
Their blood poured out filling the river deeper and deeper,
and satan patiently, willfully, joyfully
screeched a hideous cry of encouragement.
The unwitting souls on the riverbank, stood
with their eyes firmly fixed on the heavens
spoke the name of God,
then committed self-murder,
and satans fingers, dripping blood, dragged their souls
into his hell bound torrent.
Occasionally a bright beam of truth
would shine upon one of the souls on the riverbank
and they would simply walk away.
And satan thrashed and screamed each time
as another soul escaped his grip.

Through Grace Peace

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