The PX was out of news magazines the other day so I bought a copy of Newsweek where I ran across an article titled "Unholy Allies", the gist of which (strategically dated 26 September, 9 days after the parlimentary elections in Afghanistan) is the increasing violence and effectiveness of the Taliban fighters along with their close links to Al Queda insurgents in Iraq.
What boggles my mind about this article is that the Newsweek staff can apparently make an appointment to meet with Al Queda leadership in Afghanistan at any given moment. They have taken to dropping the "Al" and referring to the ultra-extremist terror sponsoring organization as just "Queda". Kind of a nick name between buddies. But then why wouldn't these two organizations be on the best of terms? After all, it was Newsweek that spawned the rioting in Afghanistan which killed 19 people over the stories of Koran desecration at Guantanemo Bay which were exaggerated at best. (See "Priveliges and Responsibilities")
Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, the authors of this article, give surprising creedence to anything their Taliban contacts tell them while brushing off any explanation or response from the U.S. military. It seems amazing to me that this article, boasting of a 300% increase in this local Taliban commander's force, and increased liaison with Al Queda (excuse me "Queda") in Iraq had never heard of this letter written by bin Laden's deputy which admits defeat in Afghanistan. But then, "Unholy Allies" goes to great lengths to imply increasing levels of violence when by all credible counts, hostile actions in Afghanistan have decreased more than 50% since the September 17th elections. Immediately after this little bit of creative writing quotes the Taliban commander's spike in troop strength, it points out that 2005 has been the deadliest year for Americans in Afghanistan since 2001 with 51 killed. This jump in fatalities is credited largely to "shaped charge IEDs", a technology imported from Iraq. The reality is that 33 of these 51 fatalities were in helicopter crashes, one due to weather, the other to hostile fire but nowhere near this commanders region, and in no related to shaped charge IEDs.
I remember watching a documentary on reporters in the Vietnam war when I was in college in which a panel of journalists was given the scenario of being allowed to imbed with North Vietnamese troops and sitting in ambush of an American patrol. The question was asked of each of them "Are you a journalist first, or an American? Would you let the Americans die or would you try to warn them first?" I remember being sickened when most answered that they were journalists first. Strange that they would say that as citizens of one of the very few countries that would protect them as such.
The people that were so willingly interviewed by our friends from Newsweek in September, attacked an American patrol in October. One of our soldiers lost both of his legs during the attack and subsequently died of his injuries. That means he bled to death in a dark hostile land half a world from home even after all the help his friends could give him and the best medical treatment we had available. Perhaps if Newsweek had been a little more American and a little less journalist, things might be different.
It's clear that Newsweek's intent with this article is to sow doubt and malcontent about our progress in Afghanistan. This is precisely the intent of the Taliban's information campaign. The only way that they can win this war is if America loses her will and the fastest way for that to happen is through irresponsible yet constitutionally protected journalism like this.
The Schismatics in Dante's "Inferno", those who sowed discord during their lifetime, were punished throughout eternity in the 7th circle of hell by being cleaved nearly in two then allowed to heal before the process is repeated. I would like to think that I am not a vindicative person, but someone will have to explain to me why I should not wish this punishment on the likes of Newsweek.