Monday, 24 August 2009

At War: Tyler Hicks

Photo © Tyler Hicks-All Rights Reserved

Well, the headlines this morning on Afghanistan are not encouraging, what with the rigged elections and with American military commanders in the country telling Richard Holbrooke (President Obama’s chief envoy to the region) that they did not have enough troops to do their job, pushed past their limit by "Taliban" rebels who operate across borders.

The usage of "Taliban" for every single insurgent (whatever his connection) in Afghanistan is really getting way past its expiration date...or the other one that is really getting so stale that one can almost smell it, is Al-Qaida...or even better, "Al-Qaida-affiliated"....as if the people living in the badlands and caves of Pakistan northern regions have an organization chart, showing affiliates or subsidiaries.

The New York Times (sensing that the war in Afghanistan will not be over in a while) is featuring a new blog called At War. The latest entry is by Tyler Hicks, the noted photojournalist and conflict photographer, who's reporting from the Korengal Valley using night vision photography and audio. I think it's quite clever of The New York Times to do this, as it adds a multi-dimensional aspect to Tyler's reporting.

And to end my tirade, here's this in Tyler Hicks' own words:
"The enemy fighters in this area are mostly local Korengalis. Accustomed to the mountains they can move stealthily in small groups, wearing running shoes or plastic sandals while carrying little more than Kaloshnikov (sic) rifles."
Three things jumped at me: the first is that the fighters have been identified as local Korengalis, not Taleban...and the second is that they're wearing plastic sandals. Those of us who remember the Viet Nam War, also remember what the Viet Cong wore on their feet...sandals. And the third is that the Koregalis, like the Viet Cong, also use Kalashnikovs.

Make of this what you will, but it doesn't augur well for us.