Quote of the Day

by Joshua Foust on 8/6/2009 · 4 comments

I recently asked an old friend of Karzai’s why Karzai would choose as his running mate Muhammad Fahim, a controversial figure who has been accused of multiple human rights abuses over many years. “Karzai believes that his two greatest mistakes as president were the removals of Sher Muhammad Akhundzada and Marshal Fahim,” he said. Both happened under intense Western pressure. The reason he regretted their removal was not that he thought they were honest statesmen but that he found they were more trouble out of office. Fahim’s removal lost him mujahedin support, and Akhundzada’s removal triggered the fall of Helmand Province to the Taliban.

—Elizabeth Rubin, in one of the best single pieces of reporting about Afghanistan that’s come out this year (and there have been some good contenders). In part, it’s because it’s not just another report about Americans in Afghanistan, which is what a lot of reporting is these days. But it’s also just very well written and very clear.

Rubin has quite a CV with these big NYTM pieces, too. In 2006, she wrote a brilliant piece on the southern border regions, calling them “a Taliban spa for rehabilitation and inspiration.” Quippy. And that was 2006, recall, well before talking about Afghanistan had become trendy again. Then, last year, Rubin wrote the seminal “Battle Company Is Out There,” which was as remarkable (I thought) for her sharing space with but badly out-writing Sebastian Junger as it was a disquieting portrait of Afghanistan’s most dangerous AO.

Anyway, enough gushing: quality reporting on Afghanistan is a rare thing, so go give this tiny point of light the attention it deserves.


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– 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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{ 4 comments }

Toryalay Shirzay August 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Westerners come across as not knowing much about the subtleties of Afghanistan and its people since there is not much for them there,so they have thought thus far.This includes the the writers and journalists not to mention diplomats,military ,intel guys and so on.To get the real scoop,one needs to find Afghans who were born and raised there and who have become so sick of it that they are willing to tell the whole truth ,no holds barred.This is the real question for US/NATO REGARDING AFSTAN: HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH SHOOTING YOURSELVES IN THE FOOT?? If yes,then stop empowering the thugs you have put in power in the first place.These corrupt persons put on multiple layers of deception on them so that non-Afghans cannot penetrate into their actual mindset.You can write all you want about Afstan,but it wont amount to much as you will only be describing the veneer and not the real stuff.What do ordinary Afghans think about what is happening there and who is doing it?? they think it is America who is making things happen there;so the Americans are given the full credit,good or bad.If the passport office officials in Khost will not issue a passport without a hefty bribe,guess who is blamed for this corrution?? you guessed it right,America!!!American officials in Afghanistan: now you cannot claim you weren’t forewarned if you have ears to hear!Can not we prevent all the sacrifice of people and resources go down the drain?!what a shame,damn shame!!

Lisa S August 9, 2009 at 11:52 am

Toryalay, in fact that is exactly what Afghans have been telling reporters at Pajhwok Afghan News this month:

1. Get rid of corruption
2. Get rid of foreigners
not necessarily in that order, depending on which province.

More in the next few days.

Toryalay Shirzay August 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Lisa S, YOU GOT THE FIRST PART RIGHT,GET RID OF CORRUPTION,thank you. Now the 2nd part,get rid of foreigners,is not correct. Afghans who do not have power and who are the majority see the US/NATO as their saviors and protectors;they want them to stay and defeat the Afghan thugs and their supporters .Who are these thugs? Afghans working for Pakistan,Iran,Saudi Arabia,Taleban,Alqaeda,other Arab islamic fascists,and Islamic international terrorists are the thugs who have destroyed the peace in Afghanistan for 3 decades and who are menacing the world today.Ordinary Afghans see the current Afghan government which was empowered by US/NATO AS THEIR TORMENTORS because it is so corrupt and because it wants the pashtuns to have the lion share of power.Many,many but not all , influential Pashtuns are sold out to either Saudi Arabia,other Arab Sheiks,and Pakistan and because they are domineering,and violent,they must be kept in check by spreading power in such a manner as to make impossible for them to be domineering anymore.The details of this state craftsmanship can be obtained by leaving a contact here.This crucial to the success of US/NATO in that region.

Joel Hafvenstein August 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Totally agree with you on Rubin’s piece — I’ve been sharing it widely since it came out.

Doesn’t sound like Sher Muhammad Akhundzada has changed much since 2005…

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