War is Boring
April 19, 2011 8:35 AM   Subscribe

David Axe is on his way back from reporting for 6 weeks in Afghanistan.

While there he reported on the 541st Engineers using metal detectors and bayonets to find bombs.

He wrote about getting blown up by an IED a patrol had missed.

He observed NATO working to train more Afghani militias.

He saw the Afghanni's step up as we stand down, sort of.

He documented some districts being fortified, while others are all but abandonned.

He witnessed the difficulties in having our well-equipped troops hand over patrol leadership to much more poorly equipped Afghan police.

He visted the porous Afghanistan/ Pakistan border, right after a major fire fight.

At the same border station, he reported on plans to up the pressence to try to decrease the amount of taliban traffic over the border.

And he was ambushed with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry as they tried to gather intelligence and show their presence on the border.
posted by garlic (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The people are Afghans. Afghanis are their currency.
posted by sklero at 10:09 AM on April 19, 2011

And now I will actually rtfa(s).
posted by sklero at 10:10 AM on April 19, 2011

Although "Afghan" is preferred, "Afghani" has historical usage, especially as a modifier.
posted by dhartung at 10:46 AM on April 19, 2011

Although "Afghan" is preferred, "Afghani" has historical usage, especially as a modifier.
There are a few words for African-Americans that also have a historical usage.
posted by fredludd at 10:50 AM on April 19, 2011

Let's not derail. These have been some excellent and compelling pieces and I commend them to the house. The AfPak border clash in particular.

*Secretly wishes he had David Axe's job/moxie*
posted by bright cold day at 11:07 AM on April 19, 2011

Thanks for posting this. Read my comments as made by someone who's never been to war and hasn't followed Axe's work too closely.

I read his graphic novel a while back, and while I'm agog at the guy's personal courage and obvious surplus of survival instinct, it left me feeling uncomfortable. He unfortunately seemed to confirm a lot of my suspicions about embedded reporters; I was a little amazed at his sometimes cavalier attitude toward the wider implications of the military actions he covers, and an apparent lack of interest in the motivations of those who take up arms against occupying troops, or the hardships of the civilians forced to suffer the actions of both sides. I can only imagine how profoundly shitty it is to be a frontline soldier, but the idea that the fault is only with the folks on the other side also leading profoundly shitty lives seems almost offensively simplistic.

What comes across to me as a clear bias in favour of those with the most power makes his work seem like journalism only in the most technical sense - it reads more like the (very skilfully written) travelogue of an (exceptionally perceptive) adrenaline junkie. It definitely adds to my understanding of the conflicts, but not nearly as much as I (from my extremely comfortable vantage) feel it could.

Especially troubling was a throwaway line in War Is Boring about "people who criticize the war without having ever fought" (paraphrased). Most criticism in the antiwar movement isn't people who've never served criticizing how the war is pursued (that's up to the Republicans)- it's people opposed to occupying other people's countries on moral and political grounds. His assertion is like saying you need to have played in the Steelers for a few years before you can start an office betting pool. That he missed this pretty obvious distinction gives the rest of his work a jingoist tone I have a hard time ignoring.

The implication in one of the linked articles that integration of Afghan troops is difficult because AMERICANS ARE ACTUALLY TOO AWESOME doesn't help. (Neither does having his work appear in the Danger Room, really.)

Frontline coverage is something that many of us are hungry for - I loathe how most of the press keeps us distanced from any real understanding of the experiences of those who fight. But this feels like I'm seeing everything through an ideological pinhole camera. Does anyone who follows his stuff have links to articles that suggest otherwise?
posted by Mike Smith at 1:22 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Are you looking for something like this embed with the taliban, Mike Smith? It's not David Axe, but it can get the otherside perspective that it sounds like you're craving.
posted by garlic at 2:31 PM on April 19, 2011

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