Coverage Comparison

by Joshua Foust on 7/2/2009

Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s coverage of the new USMC Offensive into Helmand Province takes great pains to emphasize that the Marines are going to focus not on going out and killing Taliban, but on creating space for governance in the area. At a high level, it makes a lot of sense, even if I think they might not quite realize just how tough their job is.

Yochi Dreazen, on the other hand, emphasizes all of the kinetic aspects of the operation, detailing how the focus will be on finding and killing the proprietors of weapons caches, along with drug interdiction and “persuasion” to get farmers to plant wheat instead of poppy. It’s not until the second-to-last paragraph that Dreazen mentions the idea of “protecting the populace.”

What’s the primary difference between the two journalists? Chandrasekaran is writing from Camp Leatherneck, a big Marine base in Helmand Province near the also-big Camp Bastion. His sources are local Marine officers discussing the intent of the mission. Dreazen, on the other hand, is writing from Washington, DC, quoting Nicholson’s public statements and an anonymous officer he contacted in Kabul.

Which one is right? Is either? Frankly, I don’t know—I respect both’s work, and they both don’t really have noticeable agendas. Could be they’re each zeroing in on different aspects of the mission, or one got insider-y access the other didn’t. It could also be that this mission, like so many others, has such a wide range of goals they can both be right… which of course makes me wonder if it’s realistic to try to achieve everything (and if it’s okay to allow some things to be done halfway in the process).

But again: I don’t know. I just find the contrast striking.

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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 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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