October 17, 2008 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Return to the Valley of Death. In this Vanity Fair article, Sebastian Junger describes life with the men of Battle Company at their Korengal Valley outpost in Afghanistan. In Rolling Stone, Nir Rosen describes his journey into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan: How We Lost the War We Won.
posted by homunculus (18 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Rosen was interviewed this week on Democracy Now.
posted by homunculus at 2:38 PM on October 17, 2008

Looks good. Thank for posting this. It's frustrating hearing people say the economy is the most important issue in this election. I know it's bad and that sucks for us. But people, come on, our people are still DYING DAILY over in war zones. I'm really sorry you're paying $3.50 for a gallon of gas but getting our people back home safely is THE MOST CRITICAL issue we face.
posted by vito90 at 3:09 PM on October 17, 2008

thank you, very good set of articles.
posted by Substrata at 4:40 PM on October 17, 2008

Sebastian Junger is course the author of The Perfect Storm (1997). When he wrote the book, his first, he was working as a lumber jack and short order cook, having only published a few magazine articles here and there (nothing to pay the bills, or that well known). He is from the part of MA where Storm takes places and had visited the bar and knew some of the people and so saw an opportunity to tell the story. Of course it went on to become a "surprise hit" with the movie. The book along with Into Thin Air are usually credited with creating the niche of "adrenalin literature" which is still going strong. Oddly though Junger has yet to really write another book like it, but he has some excellent magazine pieces for Outside and Vanity Fair.
posted by stbalbach at 5:51 PM on October 17, 2008

I completely agree with Obama that we took our eyes off the ball by dropping Afghanistan and letting Osama bin Laden skate by invading Iraq, and I still want bin Laden brought to justice one way or another, but I'm afraid Bush may have fucked this up so badly it might be unsalvageable.

I think a stable Afghanistan is in the interests of not just the United States but of Europe, since we're the likely targets for terrorism if we let Afghanistan slide back into lawlessness. I believe Obama's much more likely than McCain to secure international cooperation, but at this point I fear that he'd only be installing very nice doors on the barn when the horses have already gone.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:38 PM on October 17, 2008

Some google-bait for y'all...

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.

posted by jfuller at 6:52 PM on October 17, 2008

The picture at the top of the 2nd page of the VF article is priceless. In one photograph, conclusive evidence of why we will never win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.
posted by BinGregory at 8:55 PM on October 17, 2008

...and the Rolling Stone article is even more discouraging. Full of pithy quotes though:
But those closest to the chaos in Afghanistan say that throwing more soldiers into combat won't help. "More troops are not the answer," a senior United Nations official in Kabul tells me. "You will not make more babies by having many guys screw the same woman."
posted by BinGregory at 11:45 PM on October 17, 2008

"People might hate the Taliban, but they hate the government just as much. At least the Taliban have rules. This government, they're just parasites fucking with you."
"This can't be solved other than by talking to the Taliban," says a top diplomat in Kabul. A leading aid official adds that it is important to understand the ideological goal of the Taliban: "They don't have an international-terrorist agenda — they have an Afghanistan agenda. We might not agree with their agenda for the country, but that's not our war."
Great, great set of articles, homunculus. Thanks.
posted by BinGregory at 12:25 AM on October 18, 2008

The picture at the top of the 2nd page of the VF article is priceless. In one photograph, conclusive evidence of why we will never win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

VF's caption for that photo is "Sergeant Tanner Stichter, who has “Infidel” tattooed on his chest, collects fingerprints for a database."

Jolly green giants, walking the earth (wherever we please) with guns and ID scanners, hunting for bodies and souls.
posted by cenoxo at 3:00 AM on October 18, 2008

Nir Rosen, from the last link:

I spent a month in Falluja in the spring of 2004 when it was under mujaheddin control and I came under similar criticism. Three years later, these people were on the US pay roll, and President Bush was praising them.
posted by BinGregory at 7:32 PM on November 2, 2008

The Big Picture: Afghanistan's Korengal Valley
posted by homunculus at 9:26 AM on November 15, 2008

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