Just call me old fashioned -- I have serious misgivings respecting and tolerating journalists who embed with an enemy (the Taliban in this instance) responsible for what some call the strictest interpretation and implementation of Sharia law "ever seen in the Muslim World." The crimes against humanity that were a direct result of their rule in Afghanistan and continue in their desire to regain that rule cannot be forgiven or glossed over in hopes of some temporary respite from increased violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Yea, yea, okay -- some people's terrorists are other people's freedom fighters -- yada, yada -- save it for the think tank- or university-circle sponsored seminars, studies and white papers. There is still black and white in today's complex environment and our efforts in South Asia should most certainly fall within that category.
If there was ever a grouping of individuals and supporters that deserved complete annihilation (yea - I said the A word) -- the Taliban and their support structure would and should be up front and center. It will take quite some time (that is why it is called The Long War) and there will most certainly be peaks and valleys along the way -- but we must - and will - win this one and we will write the last chapter of the history book reserved for the victors.
But this is not about me and my particular passion for defeating a brutal enemy, it's about Nir Rosen and his latest Rolling Stone piece entitled How We Lost the War We Won: A Journey Into Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan. Opinions via e-mail and several blogs and their comment sections are generally favorable to Rosen's latest dance with the devil.
It's Official: Nir Rosen, Who Embeds With the Taliban, Is More Impressive Than I Am
--Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent
My colleague Nir Rosen, who is also a contributor to The Washington Note, is quickly becoming the preeminent Robert Kaplan-esque chronicler of Islamist insurgencies and conflict.
--Steve Clemons, The Washington Note
I read a draft of this story a few weeks ago and was, no kidding, glued to the page.
--Andrew Exum, Abu Muqawama
More blog traffic here -- the vast majority strongly disagree with my humble opinion on Rosen and his reporting -- so be it.
So, with a nod to Sun Tzu concerning knowing your enemy, I'd say read Rosen's article for any insight it may provide in defeating this gang of thugs.
Creative Dissent - Andrew Exum, Abu Muqawama
Our World - Richard Fernandez, The Belmont Club
Nir Rosen and the Taliban - Herschel Smith, The Captain's Journal
Why Nir Rosen Isn't To Be Trusted - Terry Glavin, Chronicles & Dissent
Nir Rosen: the Neo-Taliban's Nancy DeWolf-Smith? - Joshua Foust, Registan
I've received several e-mails indicating there might be some glaring errors or misrepresentations of fact in Rosen's Rolling Stone account of his most excellent adventure. For those so inclined, please send along such items to SWJ - documented / referenced of course. I'll post them here as an update.
Embedded With The Taliban - Jules Crittenden, Forward Movement
In fact, How We lost The War We Won: A Journey Into Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan is misleading from the start. Contrary to his claim, Rosen never actually manages to embed with the Taliban. He just hangs out with some guys who say they are commanders ... though other Taliban don't seem to have much respect for their standing ... and say they'll get him in, but never quite manage to do more than link him up with some heavily armed layabouts. Lucky for him. Had he actually been with any fighting elements of the Taliban, he'd probably be dead now, which is what usually happens to the Taliban in large numbers when they directly engage the hated Crusaders. He probably would have been OK if he was just with a ... you know ... demolitions unit. Unless it was a suicide demolitions unit and they decided to give the American the full embedded experience.