An ugly call for more civilian deaths in Afghanistan is accompanied by virtually no information about the author
The New York Times today published a monstrous Op-Ed complaining that the U.S. is being too careful to avoid civilian deaths in Afghanistan (which would probably come as a surprise to these people and these people if they hadn’t been Liberated by the U.S. . . . from life). The Op-Ed is by someone identified as “Lara M. Dadkhah,” and it’s so ugly that it merits little refutation, as it really negates itself (h/t reader Josh Golin):
So in a modern refashioning of the obvious — that war is harmful to civilian populations — the United States military has begun basing doctrine on the premise that dead civilians are harmful to the conduct of war. The trouble is, no past war has ever supplied compelling proof of that claim. . . . [A]n overemphasis on civilian protection is now putting American troops on the defensive in what is intended to be a major offensive. . . .
Of course, all this is not to say that the United States and NATO should be oblivious to civilian deaths, or wage “total” war in Afghanistan. Clearly, however, the pendulum has swung too far in favor of avoiding the death of innocents at all cost. General McChrystal’s directive was well intentioned, but the lofty ideal at its heart is a lie, and an immoral one at that, because it pretends that war can be fair or humane. . . .
Wars are always ugly, and always monstrous, and best avoided. Once begun, however, the goal of even a “long war” should be victory in as short a time as possible, using every advantage you have.
Note how her cursory, oh-so-humane caveat at the beginning (“Of course, all this is not to say that the United States and NATO should be oblivious to civilian deaths, or wage ‘total’ war in Afghanistan”) is casually dispensed with by the end, when she demands “victory in as short a time as possible, using every advantage you have.” Does anyone need it explained to them why causing large civilian deaths through air attacks in Afghanistan is not only morally grotesque but also completely counter-productive to our stated goals? For those who do, here’s one good response to this Op-Ed. Here’s another from Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy. If one can locate her, one might also ask her how well the strategy she craves worked for the Soviets in Afghanistan, or does she think the Soviet Army was also too soft, restrained and worried about civilian life?
But for the moment, I’m more interested in knowing who “Lara Dadkhah” is and, more important, what she does. She’s identified only by this conspicuously vague and uninformative line at the end of the Op-Ed: ”Lara M. Dadkhah is an intelligence analyst.” In the Op-Ed itself, she writes: ”While I am employed by a defense consulting company, my research and opinions on air support are my own.” What defense consulting company employs her? Do they have any ties to the war effort? Do they benefit from the grotesque policies she’s advocating? What type of “analyst” is she? Who knows? In the Op-Ed, she cites her so-called ”analysis of data compiled by the United States military.” Where is the data behind that analysis, and for whom was the analysis done? The NYT doesn’t bother to tell us any of this, and doesn’t require her even to specify her “defense consultant” employer.
More strangely still, it’s virtually impossible to find any information about “Lara Dadkhah” using standard Internet tools. Google produces almost nothing about her prior to references to her Op-Ed today. Nexis produces zero returns for her name — zero. And when I asked about her on Twitter, the only answer anyone could provide was that she authored this December, 2008 paper (.pdf) at Small Wars Journal, where she made exactly the same rancid argument: ”even as mounting civilian casualties are alienating the Afghan populace, excessive restraint in the use of airstrikes may be handicapping [COIN] efforts” (h/t Majlisblog). At the end of that article, she was identified this way (click to enlarge image):
That, too, vaguely refers to the work she has done — “as an open source analyst covering biodefense issues” and ”as a data analyst for current coalition information operations in Afghanistan” — while conspicuously omitting for whom that work is done.
What bizarre behavior from the NYT: it publishes an extremist, repellent Op-Ed calling, in essence, for the deaths of more innocent Afghans and accusing the Obama administration of sacrificing the lives of American troops due to excessive concern about civilians, all while providing basically no information about the author and allowing her vaguely to refer to a “defense consulting company” for whom she works while concealing its identity. There’s no way to assess her credentials, her expertise, her employment, her motives, her possible conflicts — nothing. In short, the NYT allows her to spout extremely ugly and inflammatory claims on its Op-Ed page under the cover of alleged expertise, while concealing even the most basic information about her credentials, employment and professional background. What kind of journalistic standards are those?
More Related Stories
- Is the Environmental Defense Fund ruining environmentalism?
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11