Does BloggingHeads

by Joshua Foust on 8/18/2009 · 12 comments

I taped an hour-long segment with Michael Cohen, of the New America Foundation and Democracy Arsenal. We talk Afghanistan strategery, lessons learned, and the politics of continuing the war. Hope you enjoy.

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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 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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Spencer Ackerman August 18, 2009 at 8:02 am

Did you come directly from a German game show?

Phil August 18, 2009 at 8:33 am

^ No Spack, he & Michael came directly from the 2-for-1 sale at the glasses store.

Helena Cobban August 18, 2009 at 9:35 am

Ah, Bloggingheads continues its campaign to showcase overwhelmingly the work of that direly threatened demographic, white males…

Phil K August 18, 2009 at 10:13 am


See yesterday.

Just sayin.

Helena Cobban August 18, 2009 at 10:30 am

Ooh! one black woman among all these white males! hoorah!

Joshua Foust August 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

Helena, there are lots of women in Bloggingheads. You’re choosing not to acknowledge them because for whatever reason the number is not above some arbitrary number. That’s unfair to them, too.

Or are you just angry they haven’t asked you to be on?

Helena Cobban August 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm

No, Joshua, there are not ‘lots’ of women in BHTV, as a glance through any random page of their contributors’ list shows. Relatively few people of color, either… I last blogged about this about a year ago– I also sent emails to various people incl at BHTV about it, etc– and it seems not to have improved much at all since then.

I do see this as yet another instance in which the introduction of new technologies that have a huge potential to include voices traditionally left out of the discourse end up instead reinforcing the existing disparities.

This phenom looks very much like “the math class problem”– that is, the white guys who have a lot of self-confidence shoot their hands up first (sometimes, when they don’t even have an answer) while the females and people of color who for whatever reason don’t have that self-confidence don’t… and a BAD teacher (or BHTV manager or whatever) will just call on the guys who have their hands up rather than encouraging the hangers-back to join in.

Well, there’s that, plus the technophilia/gadgetophilia of many young white guys, plus the inequities in sharing household duties that mean that women especially of child-rearing age simply don’t have the spare time to hang around exploring new tech fixes, whizz-bang means of communication, etc because they’re too busy raising their husbands’ (and their) children.

As for me, I’m well past that age. But to see all the young guys still shoot their hands up and still get disproportionately called on by the ‘teacher’ is also getting really old.

Brian Conley August 18, 2009 at 11:32 am

Helena, how do you define white(prior to September 11 some considered Arabs to have more than a marginal amount of “whiteness”, some still consider this to be true)? Also what do you see as the role played by education/wealth in the disparity of voices? Can Barack Obama really speak for “black” americans, George W Bush for “white” Americans, Nouri Al-Maliki for the majority of poor Shi’a Iraqis, Talabani or Barzani for poor Kurds, Karzai for the Pashtun peasantry…

In my view, while yes there is a predominance of “white” “male” voices, there is also a predominance of “educated” “institutional” and “wealthy” voices.

Joshua Foust August 18, 2009 at 9:40 am

Helena, that’s is the most insightful comment I’ve read about this, ever. Congratulations!

Joshua Foust August 18, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Okay, Helena, let me see if I can get this “straight,” so to speak, since you forgot to mention sexuality in your laundry list of approved attributes that to you represent diversity. is an example of white male power structures using new technology to reinforce their traditional oppressive role in global society because women and people of color don’t try to participate and the editors don’t magically know who they are? And also women don’t do video chat because they’re too busy having children and fearing technology?

You’re not really making any sense, and you’re implying bias simply because your preferences are unmet. What number of women of color would Bloggingheads have to include so that they would not fall prey to your charges of racial and gender bias? How many gays and lesbians must be represented to achieve diversity? How will they balance the proper mixture of black, latino, asian, and whatever else to meet your exacting standards?

Seriously, though: just shut the hell up. You do not have permission to hijack this thread for your diversity war.

Qifa Nabki August 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm

In case Helena decides not to come back, she said some nice things about you and the blog, Josh, here:

anand August 18, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Wow. Interesting video. I think part of the difference between you and the other blogger was that he didn’t see the enemy in Afghanistan/Pakistan as linked to global terrorism.

Perhaps you and the wise adviser to McChrystal, Abu Muqawama 😉 , could discuss which of the 12 or so Taliban militias are most closely associated with global terrorism, and which ones are not (and therefore can be negotiated with.)

In my view the groups with the closest connections to global terrorism are Haqqani, Punjabi Taliban, Chechans, Uzbechistan Takfiris, and AQ Ughairs.

Can the Quetta Shura Taliban be negotiated with? Hmmm. I think Russia, Iran, India, China and Turkey (which is close to Afghan Uzbechs) might be very concerned about negotiations with the Quetta Shura Taliban.

Perhaps this is the debate we should be having.

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