Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rough Terrain

The Washington Post has an intriguing piece by Vanessa M. Gezri about an experimental program in Afghanistan, where teams of anthropologists and social scientists are working alongside soldiers to help win over the Afghan people. I first heard about this program on NPR. As with most programs in Afghanistan, there are controversies as well as struggles. The full article appears here. Alongside the article, is a multimedia gallery about the program called "Reaching Out in Afghanistan."

Seven Days That Shook Afghanistan

"In the space of a single week, a string of disturbing military and political events revealed not just the extraordinary burdens that lie ahead for the Americans and Afghans toiling to create a stable nation, but the fragility of the very enterprise itself."

The article by Dexter Filkins appears in tomorrow's edition of the New York Times.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bearing Witness: Five Years of the Iraq War

At this year's Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival there is a new Web Documentary award category. One of the nine finalists is from Reuters "Bearing Witness: Five Years of the Iraq War". It is a profoundly disturbing and very graphic five minute multimedia presentation. Something we would never see on television, not in the U.S. anyway. It reminded me of when Michael Ware talked about the footage he took in Fallujah, Nov. '04 that jars the sensitivities and depicts the terrifying experience of what war is really like.

Cheney's Jihad

Peter Bergen has a great piece in Foreign Policy about why enhanced interrogation techniques don't enhance U.S. interests. You can read the full article here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PR v. Journalism

An interesting update on the PR firm that is still recommending to the Pentagon which reporters should be given an embed with American troops based on the number of "good news" stories they have produced in the past. How is it possible that this is still going on?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A School Bus for Shamsia

This week's edition of the Sunday, New York Times Magazine is dedicated to 'The Women's Crusade'. There are many wonderful articles appearing in the magazine, including one by Dexter Filkins. Filkins writes about his involvement with the Mirwais Mena School, the brave Shamsia, and the state of education for girls in Afghanistan. This is an amazing follow-up to his piece from January, 13, 2009. In the former article, Filkins wrote about how Afghan girls were defying terror and embracing school even after being scarred by acid.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Baghdad truck bomb aftermath

Arwa Damon shows us the enormous crater caused by the truck bomb detonated outside the Foreign Ministry Wednesday, as well as the remains of the nearby houses that were destroyed in the blast.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Under fire in Afghanistan

ITN's Nick Paton-Walsh comes under fire at a remote outpost in Afghanistan.

(This is from the airing on The Situation Room because only about half of the report was posted at

Afghanistan: A War We Should Be In?

Rory Stewart appeared as part of a panel on Channel 4 News in London, UK, discussing the Afghan war. Along with Rory Stewart the panel consisted of a mother of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan, a Captain who served from 2003-2005, an Afghan interpreter, and a Pakistani community worker. The video of the panel is shown in three parts below:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Major Attacks in Baghdad Reveal Iraq's Vulenerability

With all eyes focused on Afghanistan's election tomorrow and the 24-7 healthcare debate coverage here in the U.S., it is important to not let Iraq fade into the background. Iraq continues to be a violent and fragile state. In a coordinated attack involving powerful truck bombs, insurgents killed 95 people and wounded nearly 600 people at the Foreign and Finance Ministries in central Baghdad.

Sam Dagher filed a detailed report for the New York Times and made the following disturbing assertion: "Nearby American soldiers stood by helplessly - despite the needs of hundreds of wounded - waiting for a request for help from Iraqi officials that apparently never came."

John Burns on Afghanistan

In today's 'At War' blog, John Burns answers questions on Afghanistan. He made the following statement ahead of tomorrow's presidential election: "Afghans, of course, would like the kind of elections Americans enjoy, but the ones they are being offered are surely a far, bar better way of assigning power than any offered by the ruthless men of the Taliban.

Rory Stewart: The 'Impossible' Afghan Mission

Rory Stewart appeared on "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook for a reality check on Afghanistan's election eve. Asked whether Pakistan and Afghanistan should be treated as one problem, as the administration asserts, he dismissed the notion with a colorful analogy:

"It's like you're going into a room with an angry cat a big tiger. And the angry cat is Afghanistan and the big tiger is Pakistan. Pakistan has nuclear bombs. Pakistan has Bin Laden. Pakistan can destabilize India. And you're in that room and you're whacking the cat. And somebody says to you, 'Why are you whacking the cat?' And you say, "Oh, it's a cat-tiger strategy - it's an Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy.' Really the reason we're whacking the cat is we don't know what to do about the tiger."

You can list to the full audio interview with Rory Stewart here. The interview with Rory begins at 5:45 point.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Afghanistan Imposes News Censorship on Election day

Carlotta Gall of the New York Times writes about the restrictions on all news organizations, "banning them from reporting suicide bombings and other violence during the Thursday vote."
The restrictions follow a spike in violence as recent as today, where seven people were killed and 52 wounded after a suicide car bomb in Kabul.

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Taliban Threats May Sway Vote in Afghanistan

In today's New York Times, Dexter Filkins writes about Taliban threats and lack of polls in the Pashtun Region.

He states that "across the Pashtun heartland in eastern and southern Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents hold sway in many villages, people are being warned against going to the polls...Conditions have been so chaotic that many Afghans have been unable to register to vote...In many areas, there will not be any polling places to go."

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

At War: Notes From the Front Lines

The New York Times has a great feature on their website that includes blogs/posts from their war correspondents. Included in this group is Dexter Filkins, Stephen Farrell, Carlotta Gall, Ashley Gilbertson, John F. Burns, and many more.

Today's post is aptly titled "At War Contributors". You can find the latest and most recent posts here. Check it out and show your support to the many journalists who sacrifice their time and safety to bring their stories home to us.

Generation Islam

CNN's Christiane Amanpour presents another terrific investigative special this week, premiering Aug 13 on Domestic and August 14th on International. She traveled to several war-torn countries to find out what the future promises to be like for the next generation of Muslims -- raised turning such turbulent times, are they destined to become enemies of the West or will they be the ones who transcend the differences between cultures and forge a better future for generations to come?

“In my travels through Gaza and Afghanistan, again and again I found people more interested in a future than a fight. Parents who want the best for their children and children who know there has to be something better,” says Amanpour. “And their allegiance will be to whoever helps them get there.”

CNN also has a web page up with links to all the different components of the program and links to the different organizations that are working to better conditions in Gaza, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It is a terrific resource for anyone looking to learn more about the regions and the issues.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Inthesandbox's Blog & Inside Iraq Blog

Wanted to draw attention to two excellent blogs:

The first blog is new to me (many thanks to Delie for the tip). It is called "Insidethesandbox" and can be found here. You can also follow the blog on twitter. The purpose of the sandbox blog is to give one insight into the world of war reporting, from the viewpoint of journalists and photographers on the front line.

The second blog is called "Inside Iraq" and can be found here. Inside Iraq is updated by Iraqi journalists working for McClatchy Newspapers. They are based in Baghdad and outlying provinces and for security reasons, their full names are not given.

Also, do not miss CNN's Backstory clips (many thanks to Delie again, for posting them). You can find a link to Delie's archive of CNN Backstory here or on the link at the bottom of this blog (next to the wonderful 'Wareabouts' brought to us by Cyn). For those of us in the U.S. who do not get CNNI and are in search of honest reporting, these sites are invaluable.

Hardly Winning

Short article in Foreign Policy by Peter Bergen.

Life, Death and the Taliban

Charles M. Sennott is the Executive Editor and the Vice President of GlobalPost an online international news service. He is an an award winning journalist and author with a distinguished career in international reporting for both print and broadcast news organizations.

A longtime foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe, Sennott served as the Globe's Middle East Bureau Chief based in Jerusalem from 1997 to 2001 and the Europe Chief based in London from 2001 to 2005.

He recently returned to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he revisited the people and places he got to know through his reporting. While in the region, he spoke with high-level Taliban officials and visited a refugee camp and a girls' school His reporting is part of a special multimedia project for the GlobalPost entitled "Life, Death and the Taliban."

He appeared on NPR's Fresh Air to talk about his recent trip to Afghanistan, his extensive GlobalPost report on the Taliban and the value of international reporting from the ground. You can listen to his interview here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Karzai In His Labyrinth

The New York Time's Sunday Magazine has an excellent piece on President Karzai by Elizabeth Rubin. Elizabeth Rubin is a contributing writer and Edward R. Murrow fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has reported extensively on Afghanistan for the magazine and spent several days in the presidential palace with Karzai and his entourage for this article.

Rubin writes about Karzai's isolation, the distrust the people have for him, his relationship with the warlords, and the corruption inside his inner circle. The article also has a preview of the various presidential candidates including Dr. Abdullah Abdullah (a leading candidate) and Ashraf Ghani (a former Afghan finance minister and adviser to the World Bank).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Precarious Election in Afghanistan

This slide show by Tyler Hicks of the New York Times, captures some amazing images of Afghanistan as it readies itself for the election.

Roadside Bomb Kills 6 Afghan Civilians

Dexter Filkins filed a report in today's New York Times website about a roadside bomb that killed six civilians in Afghanistan. The violence comes three weeks before the country's presidential election. In Filkin's piece there are links to a short video on the roadside bomb and a must read article by Carlotta Gall about the upcoming elections.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More troops needed for Afghan war

Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann comment on the need for more troops in Afghanistan.

Lunch with Rory Stewart

Financial Times columnist, Emily Stokes sat down with Rory Stewart for an insightful chat (Rory Stewart states that there is no distinction between personal chat and interview). Over lunch at a sedate restaurant of New England cuisine, they touched upon Stewart's Turquoise Mountain charity, the need for more of a development strategy in Afghanistan, British politics and his upcoming BBC documentary series on Lawrence of Arabia.