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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lauryn Oates: The War in Afghanistan Made the Country Better

I read the Doug Saunders column to which Lauryn Oates refers, and it was one of the worst pieces of journalism I've ever seen appear in a major newspaper. Either Saunders has a cognitive disability or he was intentionally manipulating and lying about data. He referred to one report that indicated that the current NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan was creating a situation in which Islamists were feeling more at liberty to mistreat women. Among other egregious distortions, Saunders implied it was because of the NATO forces presence in Afghanistan that conditions for women were worsening in that country.

Afghan women police training graduates (Nov 2011)

From The Huffington Post:
Media coverage of Afghanistan over the past decade is notoriously prone to selective coverage of the negative -- the latest bomb blast or kidnapping -- while doing a dismal job of telling the story of the transformative progress that has occurred, and what exactly is at stake should security deteriorate this year upon the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Then there are the armchair pundits, who further help colour public opinion in the NATO countries towards unjustified pessimism. Last Saturday The Globe & Mail ran an opinion article by Doug Saunders called "Was our Afghan saga useless -- or worse?" in which he suggests that Afghanistan may be worse off now than it was before international intervention (while simultaneously contradicting himself by noting that there are gains, though they may not last).
I've worked in aid and development in Afghanistan for more than a decade, and I am flummoxed by Saunders' article, and more so, by his clumsy misreading of the sources he cites...

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