Thursday, March 26, 2009

Afghaniscrewed

On Wednesday, The Village Voice published a feature that I wrote after my last trip to Afghanistan. The story also appears on the covers of Nashville Scene and New Times Broward- Palm Beach, both former employers of mine. My pal Rafal Gerszak's photos accompany the story and I borrowed one of his images for my blog’s header.

The piece tells of the difficulties that well intentioned U.S. soldiers encounter when dealing with local nationals who are supposed to be helping the coalition effort. It also highlights intra-coalition difficulties that bedevil the mission.

Most importantly, the story asks the question, “Why are we still in Afghanistan?” I don’t pretend to have any answers, but I was dismayed to find that many of the brightest coalition soldiers I interviewed didn’t have good reasons either.

One thing that the piece did not reflect was the time that I spent unembedded in Afghanistan. I met some wonderful people while in Kabul. The reason that I didn’t quote any of them in the story—aside from Jassim, the Chicken Street vendor—is because we didn’t really talk much about the war. We talked about family, business, food, music, the WWE, anything really, that normal people would talk about when getting to know each other.

Though I’ll start my embed soon, I’m going to make a concerted effort to develop relationships outside the military. One thing that’s missing from western coverage of the war is the voices of Afghan people. I’m as guilty of this as anyone, and I aim to rectify that omission this time around.

2 comments:

  1. PJ,
    Rafal's pics are awesome and I threw up a blog post about them. Thanks for pointing those out.

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  2. I found them via Bouhammer's blog. I have to agree with him. His pictures were outstanding! I would recommend that he add identifying tags though...

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