February 13, 2010

The Largest Assault of the Afghan War (as Far as Anyone Can See)

Hicks Marjah

This shot by Tyler Hicks demonstrates the profound ambiguity of the much ballyhooed “new style” offensive in Marjah in Helmand province.

The question is: how does anybody really know if this guy — who wasn’t detained — is one of the civilians we are bending-over-backward to protect, or whether he’s Taliban? (According to the Pentagon, 75% of the insurgent force happen to be local residents.)

Afghan Offensive CNN DOD pics

And then, as far as the coverage itself is concerned, give credit to the NYT for having a reporter and photographer there at all — given how other media (CNN and the BBC, for example) are relying heavily on the Pentagon and Britian’s MOD for “news” images.

‘Operation Moshtarak’ Begins: NYT Slideshow. CNN video.

(photo: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times. caption: Company K, accompanied by an Afghan army platoon, set down in three landing zones to gain a foothold in territory long under insurgent control. Here, an Afghan villager, who was not detained, was confronted at the first compound that the Marines seized)


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Michael Shaw
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