Hey everyone. I’m back for a while, I hope. As regular readers here know well, everyone who contributes to this site, including me and Nathan, have day jobs. And sometimes those day jobs must take priority over blogging. I’ve been put through the ringer by my job, a good ten months or so of incredible frustration and pettiness, and maybe sometime I’ll be in a position to talk about it.
In the meanwhile, I can draw attention to two pieces I’ve written, which will hopefully be a way of warming back up to the daily grind of blogging. The first is the resumption of my contributing at PBS’ new show, Need to Know, which replaced Bill Moyers’ Journal on Friday nights. Back in April, I wrote an overview of the Battle for Kandahar which I think has stood up well. This week, I turned my attention to punditry and how we derive understanding of the wars America fights:
In other words, these commentators and the government are a mutual appreciation society. They are symbiotic, each existing and prospering by feeding on the other.
There’s also a darker side to how these experts serve as validators to U.S. foreign policy: rarely is there a countervailing influence. Skeptics of an expanded war in Afghanistan like Gian Gentile or Andrew Bacevich are routinely derided as ignorant and marginalized in the debate. Most visibly, they don’t get the bimonthly tours of the war zones, the way Michael O’Hanlon or Kim and Fred Kagan do (Gentile is an active duty soldier, so his ability to travel is, admittedly, limited). Think of the last time a prominent general arranged a tour of Afghanistan for an anti-war columnist. If it ever happened, it was lost in the avalanche of pro-war pundits going on government-funded advocacy tours of the fighting.
Nothing earth shattering in there, but I think it’s a worthy discussion we don’t have often enough. In an completely unrelated note, at my other unpaid gig, the burgeoning e-zine Current Intelligence, I gave a quick rundown of my daily reading habits, giving shout-outs to some of our friends in the Central Asian blogosphere.
I welcome comments about both.