The Real Thing

Someone posted this as an example of excellent coverage of the Afghanistan war. A brief warning: it’s not for the feint of heart.

This is more combat than I have any real desire to be in, but it illustrates a point I made earlier—more information is better. It’s a hard look at the reality the United States and its partners face around Afghanistan, where today the New York Times reported three U.S. soldiers were killed.

It’s interesting the limited capacity for war the American people have, particularly with two simultaneous conflicts going on. When Iraq was melting into sectarian violence no one asked about Afghanistan. Now it’s Afghanistan, formerly America’s “Forgotten War,” that is erupting into violence. The techniques—improvised explosive devices and suicide bombs—have been imported from Iraq, as have the casualties, which just climbed above 2,000.

This type of reporting is invaluable. It connects the viewer at home with the soldier on the field. U.S. and British citizens (the Guardian is a U.K. paper) can begin to understand what the war in Afghanistan looks like, and they can decide what level of importance they should place on foreign policy when they go to the voting booth.

Will it hurt or help the war effort? I’m not sure. No one wants to see young American soldiers die, but it’s more a matter of your view of the threats posed by a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. Would it lead to more terrorist attacks, and is the current strategy affecting it? Those questions aren’t answered by the reporter in the field. They are hopefully addressed by reporters back home consulting with specialists and experts. But the reporter in the field gives context. They make it clear just what those decisions mean, on the ground, for one soldier and one family. They aren’t policies in a vacuum, and it takes people broadcasting or filing from the field to make the true impacts clear.

I’m still waiting to find out if that’s something I’ll be doing, but regardless I think it’s important when someone does it well, from a perspective rarely seen, to share it. This video is intimidating, but it brings reality home.

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