Wardak Province, AfghanistanThe second-person pronouns ("you," "your") are wrong. You are not in Afghanistan, he is. But such quibbles aside, Brooks's ability as a reporter -- his ability to describe -- have never been in dispute. One could complain about the "scraggly" and "ragamuffin," but the genuine objection to Brooksianism involves his opinions, which are invariably wrong. So let's cut to the chase and quote his concluding paragraph:
You drive up to the forward operating base in Wardak Province in an armored Humvee, with the machine-gunner sticking up through the roof and his butt swinging on a little perch just by your head. Outside there's a scraggly downtown, with ragamuffin Afghan children, almost no old people (the median life expectancy is 45) and dust everywhere. The dust of Afghanistan piles up in front of the storefronts and covers the ruins of the buildings destroyed during the Soviet period, or during the civil war or during some lost conflict from centuries past.
When you put more boots on the ground, you not only augment your army’s firing power, you give it the capacity to experiment. A few years ago, the good guys had only vague ideas about how to win this war. Now they’re much smarter.Which, coming from David Brooks, can only mean that the situation in Afghanistan is rapidly descending into chaos and disaster. Give generously today!
P.S.: I've got some reporting of my own to do today, so Frequent Commenter Smitty is in charge.