So we have another dispatch from Korengal, this time by the Wall Street Journal’s Yochi Dreazen.
The Khe Sanh-style fighting in this godforsaken valley seems to draw American journalists like honey. First Sebastian Junger went there and wrote an unfocused and meandering reportage that lacked both passion and detail and was dwarfed by Tim Hetherington’s powerful photos. Then Elizabeth Rubin of the New York Times ventured in, spent weeks with the tired men of Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and came back with what is probably the best piece of journalism to come out of Afghanistan since 9/11.
So, with the ultimate Korengal story already written, why do it again?
Because that’s what we do. We read each other’s stuff, follow each other’s breadcrumbs and rarely delve deep into our subjects even when they occupy us for years. When Time ran a bleak story on Mosul’s COP Rabiya last February, every embed wanted to be there, regardless of what was happening across the river in eastern Mosul. For a while, Baquba was shit hot, then Arab Jabour. In Afghanistan, Garmser is suddenly the place to be, even though the Brits have been slugging it out with the Taleban over there for years. (The Limeys, too, got to enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame, but not before Prince Harry’s heroic two-month deployment.)
I’ll repeat myself: we desperately need a Nir Rosen or a Patrick Cockburn to poke his nose into these places. This is now more important than ever, as attention shifts from Iraq, which has become way too complicated for general media consumption, to Afghanistan, where, as Abu Muqawama’s Kip pointed out, bad shit has been happening at least since 2005, but no one cared.