With Peter Bergen popping up everywhere these days (including a couple unexpected and more expected ones), I thought it might be worth collecting together some of those links. Which I just did. Admire my hyperlinking skillz.
Other links of note:
Military Women in the Media 22 from akinoluna; wonderful aggregation of a topic of particular interest to me.
According to the Pentagon’s report, the Army’s goal for fiscal year 2009 was to sign 65,000 new recruits. It actually signed 70,045—amounting to 8 percent more than the target.
But the picture is less bright than it seems. Though the Pentagon’s report doesn’t mention this fact, in each of the previous two years, the Army’s recruitment goal was 80,000—much higher than this year’s. The Army met those targets, but only by drastically lowering its standards—accepting more applicants who’d dropped out of high school or flunked the military’s aptitude test.
This year, the recruiters restored the old standards—a very good thing for troops’ morale and military effectiveness—but they signed up 10,000 fewer new soldiers.
That puts a slightly different spin on things.
I have no idea where I got this 2006 Harper’s article from, but wow it was a fascinating read. It’s an account of a discussion between A.J. Bacevich, Charles J. Dunlap Jr., Richard H. Kohn, and Edward N. Luttwak about the US military, democracy, and much else. If you have a little time, I reccommend it.
I wanted to write a post specifically devoted to the PBS Frontline special, but to be honest, everyone else has said all that I though and more. I direct you to Kings of War, whose comments on the subject are something of a microcosm of opinion on the documentary.
Secdef Gates is touring East Asia right now, and will be talking with Japan about Afghanistan. (Did you know new PM Hatoyama is being investigated for fundraising fraud? Guess it’s just getting interesting, in Japan.)
The military in Afghanistan has walked back its decision to ban KIA photographs/videos:
After news organizations protested the amended rule, the Pentagon suggested a rewrite. The new rule released Thursday would allow photography of casualties but said participating news organizations could not use material where there is a recognizable face or other identifiable feature. Journalists could not write about or photograph wounded troops unless those service members give prior permission.
Prior to the AP’s controversial photo in September, news organizations had much more leeway to publish photos of the dead as soon as the next of kin had been notified – even though much less of this material has been shown during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than in past conflicts.
And finally, John McCreary updates me on conflicting things coming out of Iran:
Iran: For the record. Two Iranian news agencies rebutted reports this weekend that Supreme Leader Khamene’i died, while state-run TV ignored the subject. Hunh?
Huh indeed. That would be a rather big deal. I mean, I heard he had a cold…
Last month, I posted a criticism of the Columbia Journalism Review‘s criticism of Tom Ricks, because “blog” actually means “responding to things other people are responding to.” And it looks like Jaime McIntyre got into it too:
If you don’t like what a reporter is saying, or if the story does not affirm your previously held belief, it’s all too easy to dismiss it with the assertion that the reporter has lost his independence. In short, it’s a cheap shot.
Challenge me on my facts, question my conclusions, hold me accountable for reporting that falls short, but don’t suggest just because I have spent time talking to people who know more about something than I do, I’ve been snowed; that somehow, despite my years of experience, I have lost my critical faculties, the very skepticism that is the bedrock of any good reporter.
Believe me, Ricks has lost none of his skepticism or independence over the years. Just the opposite. The CJR’s problem seems to be that after some very thorough research and firsthand reporting, Ricks has simply come to some conclusions the article’s author doesn’t agree with.
And he certainly carries more weight than I do! Just came across this today, and figured it was worth mentioning. (He also has a piece out today on DADT and Col. Prakash’s paper.)
I’m kind of running on Doctor Who-time here, but I thought this article/critique of Tom Ricks in the Columbia Journalism Review was, well, rather odd.
The charge seems to be that Ricks ceased to be an objective journalist and has instead become an opinionated advocate for counterinsurgency strategy. Well…yes. And I’m not sure Ricks would disagree. There is a reason he works for CNAS instead of the Washington Post. There’s a reason he produced two books and maintains a blog, rather than doing file copy for a newspaper. It’s because he…ceased to be an objective journalist when he became an opinionated advocate for counterinsurgency strategy.
The article apparently disapproves of that move, because every other paragraph from halfway through is a quote from someone in the Beltway ragging on Ricks’ insatiable appetite for this topic. The author looks to criticize Ricks for no longer retaining the journalist’s virtue of objectivity, but the account of Ricks’ career clearly gives rationale for that: Ricks’ perspective from the embeds he did in the early part of this century gave him the basis to present his own accounting of those events. His books weren’t reporting; they were analyses. His blog isn’t reporting; it is commentary. And he has not somehow lost something by shifting into this other role. He has made a career change in line with his own personal changes.
I don’t really get the point of the article. Was it to deliver a hit to Tom Ricks for leaving the journalists’ club? Was it to claim that he has drunk the counterinsurgency kool-aid? Because it seems rather petty to criticize a dude who no longer claims journalistic objectivity for not retaining that journalistic objectivity.
Speaking of Ricks, he exercised his opinionated, non-newsprint-affiliated voice on Wednesday to criticize the spin put on illiteracy rates among ANSF troops by AP:
The Afghan army is “hard to train.” Why? Because the soldiers are illiterate. Pop quiz: How many of the Spartans at Thermopalye were literate? One reason armies have had officers is to ensure that for every 100 or so soldiers, there is someone who can decipher a map and read orders.
I kind of prefer this feisty, no-bullshit Ricks to WP-affiliated reporter Ricks, I must say.