Afghanistan: Fruits of the U.S. journalist surge

At times a couple of weeks ago, a visitor might have been forgiven for confusing Kandahar with New Hampshire during primary season. Everywhere I went — well, okay, on two consecutive stops — I ran into a bigfoot reporter working for a big U.S. publication. In Arghandab I met a guy in a polo shirt who turned out to be James Traub of the New York Times Magazine. A few kilometres down the road at Senjaray, I ran into Joe Klein, the Primary Colors author and columnist at Time.

Where I spent an hour, Klein was spending a week, so Capt. Jeremiah Ellis appears for two paragraphs in my piece but is the central character in Klein’s fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking cover story for Time. It’s well worth your attention, as is photographer Adam Ferguson’s photo essay to accompany the same story.

One of the most consequential news management calls of 2008-9 was the New York Times’ decision to reassign the paper’s best war correspondents, including C.J. Chivers and Dexter Filkins, from Iraq to the south of Afghanistan. Today  the Times website features harrowing video footage shot by Chivers earlier this spring during the battle for Marjah. Marines there meet stiff resistance from insurgents, including a rarity: a skilled marksman, probably using a 70-year-old Lee Enfield bolt-action rifle.

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