How Michael Hastings Buried His Lede

by Joshua Foust on 2/28/2011 · 5 comments

I have an article up at PBS, discussing the real story Michael Hastings didn’t tell.

With think tankers, the process is far less transparent. There’s no mistake that the most pro-war think tankers get to embed with the military whenever they want, with seemingly no limits on funding, trip length or access to high-level officials. It’s more difficult for critical think tankers and analysts to get support to go research the war first hand: funding is far less forthcoming for reports that are critical of the war, and the military has an established record of being unwelcoming of critical analysts touring through its operations. General Petraeus invited Max Boot to tour the war in Afghanistan; he hasn’t invited a prominent critic like Col. Gian Gentile.

Discuss, if you dare.


Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

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 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

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use

{ 5 comments }

anan February 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

“Discuss, if you dare.” Yes, most of us dare. 😉

ISAF should invite Col Gian Gentile. He is one of the most thoughtful analysis out there.

201 ANA Corps and 2-201 in Kunar in particular could use a lot more enemy centric COIN . . . and would be well served with an advisor like Col Gian Gentile.

Just a hunch, but think MoI minister Mohammadi might like Gentile’s style. Mohammadi is one tough customer.

A major problem in Afghanistan is that MoI and MoD are too shy to invite embedded journalists or conduct interviews. The issue seems to come from above their level.

How to convince Pres Karzai about the value of strategic communication and allowing the ANSF to engage with the international and Afghan press, and the international think tank crowd? Sigh.

East of the border there is a full court circuit anti ANSF PR campaign being run . . . in an attempt to cut off international support for the ANSF. One of the goals appears to be to convince Russia, India, Iran, Turkey and China that the ANSF is hopeless and convince them to support regional militias in lieu of the nonsectarian nonpartisan ANA. Seeing the emotion with which Musharraf talks about the ANA speaks volumes.

This really could happen, which is all the more reason Karzai has to allow the ANSF to talk to the press and think tank crowd . . . and to host smart analysts like Col Gentile when they tour Afghanistan.

Madhu March 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

East of the border there is a full court circuit anti ANSF PR campaign being run . . . in an attempt to cut off international support for the ANSF. One of the goals appears to be to convince Russia, India, Iran, Turkey and China that the ANSF is hopeless and convince them to support regional militias in lieu of the nonsectarian nonpartisan ANA. Seeing the emotion with which Musharraf talks about the ANA speaks volumes.

I’ve had had similar thoughts. I simply have no idea about the viability or protective ability of the ANSF – how could I from my vantage point; it worries, anan, it worries – but it may be that people are genuinely afraid of what will happen and don’t want to leave anything to chance.

But, yes, the fear with which neighbors view genuine sovereignty is instructive. Not surprising, except for inattentive DC-politicians, an American military used to working through client militaries in the region, and naive, or worse, think-tankers, but what can you do?

Don’t listen to the happy talk about future Indians, anan, from the American think tank community or DC defense planners. The prejudice against the Indian security establishment – a relic of the Cold War and distrust of Iranian-Indian relations – runs very, very deep. Let’s not kid ourselves. Some of our American generals seem to prefer the Egyptian and Pakistani generals, when all is said and done, and I’m afraid some will pay a very high price for the tendency to romanticize militaries they have worked with in the past. Human nature, I suppose, and who am I to criticize, really?

I mean that. I know that I’m being deeply unfair and overly emotional, but I don’t know how to interpret our seriel mistakes in “AfPAK” anymore.

I always hope my deep skepticism is proven wrong. I sincerely do.

As an aside, Mr. Foust, your article on the HBO documentary was very good. I saw the documentary, too, and had many of the same thoughts. It was heart-breaking to watch.

Madhu March 1, 2011 at 8:08 am

That should be future American-Indian or future Nato-Indian (a rather strange paper I read sometime back at SWJ) relations in the above comment.

Madhu March 1, 2011 at 8:12 am

Last comment for now. I don’t know why I keep singling out the military? The world is changing rapidly, our twentieth century institutions are breaking up all over the place, and our slow-moving national security apparatus is having trouble keeping up. That’s probably a better comment to make than my silly conspiratorial comment above.

Apologies, all.

anonymous March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm

What stood out from your article to me was that think tankers could embed, I thought only registered journalists could do that. How would a think tanker go about getting embedded?

Previous post:

Next post: