A friend pointed out that just days before Gall’s OMG WIN piece on Kandahar, she had written an article sourced to actual Afghans that said something remarkably different:
While most villagers have fled the area, those who remain complain that they are trapped between insurgents and the foreign forces, often suffering damages for which they remain uncompensated.
And so on. While that piece indicates that, maybe, with all these extra troops in the area, a “proper” strategy could be put into place, her coverage there is nothing but downbeat. Of course, that same day in the paper, she ran a press release for ISAF, datelined inside Kandahar Air Field. The contrast is truly remarkable, if for no other reason than this sort of boosterism reporting is so very out of character for her.
But focusing on Carlotta Gall misses the point. ISAF is reaching for straws. Take this recent press release:
Provincial Governor Proves Kandahar Highway Safe
KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 22) – Kandahar Governor Tooryali Weesa drove by car for an hour along the main highway to the village of Howz-e-Mdad to the west of Kandahar City.
The governor met with 350 village elders to discuss governance and outlined a number of development projects, including a link road to allow local farmers swift access to markets. The governor, who was accompanied only by a press party and several officials, said “a year ago a similar shura here attracted only four villagers – now there are hundreds.
They credit Operation Dragon Strike, currently ongoing in Panjwai and Zhare, with so many showing up. So, I guess Highway 1 is perfectly safe now, because behind the lines of a major offensive, a high-ranking government official was able to travel in a pickup truck to a pre-arranged meeting?
Ugh. I’ll believe it when ISAF feels comfortable driving around in soft-skinned vehicles. In what universe is Highway 1 considered safe for VIPs, like at all? I guess in ISAFland.