Monday, October 23, 2006

Two Realms of War, Afghan Troubles Ahead

The Long War is marked by its accelleration of the politicization of the use of force: the fronts are simultaneously on the ground and at home. Operations happen within two realms: effects are created almost at the same time in the immediate/practical and in the symbolical/communicative realms.

Michael Yon in The Weekly Standard (hat tip to Defense Tech) and MountainRunner each have some interesting pieces on the mediation of the second realm through the first: public diplomacy and press relations are obviously central to the tentative management of or at least concerted effort in effects based use of force.

Meanwhile, Yon's basic argument for facilitating life for embedded reporters is also straightforward in the sense that embeds are better reporters than journalists who are not at the scene. Yon likes his track record in reporting -- and his prediction for the NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2007 is extremely disturbing:
During the beginning of the war, when some of us called an insurgency an insurgency, our patriotism was questioned. Is there any question now? Are there just a few "dead-enders" that we are still "mopping up"? When I called a civil war a civil war a full year ahead of the media, out came the dogs. When I predicted success in Mosul even while the guns were hot, many mainstream journalists thought I was hallucinating. But these were all things I learned from being embedded for months with our troops. There was tremendous progress in Iraq in 2005, and I reported it, all while warning about the growing civil war that could undermine everything. I reported extensively on a unit that was getting it right--the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (Deuce Four) of the 25th Infantry Division--and as I traveled to Mosul, Baqubah, and other places, I was mostly alone as a writer.

Early this spring, when I reported from Afghan farms about this year's bumper opium crop, people thought I was using that opium. Now it is common knowledge that the opium trade is fueling a Taliban comeback. Mark this on your calendar: Spring of 2007 will be a bloodbath in Afghanistan for NATO forces. Our British, Canadian, Australian, Dutch, and other allies will be slaughtered in Afghanistan if they dare step off base in the southern provinces, and nobody is screaming at the tops of their media-lungs about the impending disaster. I would not be surprised to see a NATO base overrun in Afghanistan in 2007 with all the soldiers killed or captured. And when it happens, how many will claim they had no idea it was so bad and blame the media for failing to raise the alarm? Here it is: WARNING! Troops in Afghanistan are facing slaughter in 2007!
Here's to hoping Yon will be proven wrong.

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