Editing the Transition

by Joshua Foust on 3/22/2011 · 1 comment

Subject to a series of preconditions, some of which international coalition supporters may balk at, Mr. Karzai said Afghans would begin in July to take control of Panjshir and Bamian provinces entirely, and the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat and Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, and Mihtarlam, the capital of Laghman Province. Mr. Karzai also listed all of Kabul Province except the troubled Sarobi district, although Afghan forces have been in charge of Kabul for years now, aside from NATO forces guarding their own bases.

I get that this is a short, quickly dashed off story, but the editing in that paragraph is just damned sloppy. For one, it lends the impression that Herat, which is the capital city of Herat province, is really in Helmand province; the last sentence also uses a really awkward subordinate clause.

Oh and that bit about Karzai refusing the hand over Sarobi district? Back when the NYT spelled it “Surobi,” they were calling it one of the war’s great success stories. What’s changed in the last six months to make it the one area excluded from Afghan control?And why Lashkar Gah and Mehtar Lam? Why not Jalalabad? There are many questions this plan raises, and none of them make me very confident about it.


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– author of 1848 posts on Registan.net.

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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{ 1 comment }

miwome March 23, 2011 at 4:24 am

Well, if we’re going to go all balls-out on the editing front, I should point out that technically, none of the questions MAKES you very confident.

I have nothing to add to the good questions you’ve raised except pedantry, so there you have it.

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