To say that the mainstream press’s recent coverage of America’s ostensible Afghan War withdrawal – and Iraq-Syria mission muddle-throughs – has been atrocious could be a competitive candidate for understatement of the year. Nearly everyday is the same, when I open my email newsletters from publications like the Washington Post and New York Times – minimal war reporting, nearly no analysis or commentary, and a load of overt or not-so-subtle alarmism about the supposed perils of US withdrawal from decades-long fiascoes.
Then there are the semi-regular editorials to the same effect, from the who’s who gallery of should-be-discredited chickenhawk staff and guest columnists. Frankly, it feels like we’re truly through-the-looking glass when 20 years into our endless adventures, Max "never been right on a past-or-present war" Boot, and two-time-war-loser David "convicted criminal" Petraeus, are both still getting plenty of pontification space. In fact, by my count, since March 2021, Washington Post-published opinion pieces have run 11-to-1 opposed to Biden’s troop withdrawal; this at a time when around two-thirds of average Americans – and nearly three-quarters of the war’s combat vets – support full withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Seemingly worse still, last week the Washington Post’s David Ignatius – who was wrong on Iraq, wrong on CIA assassination and torture, et. al. – not only lambasted President Biden’s "rushed and chaotic" troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, but favorably contrasted his "more careful and successful approach in Iraq." Yes, you read that right – success…in Iraq. Look, this sort of vacuous, delusional, and fact-free commentary amounts to a clown show. Yet, it remains the norm in the establishment television and print world.
Which is why one must look elsewhere for quality coverage – in depth, breadth, context, and credible analysis. That’s where Antiwar.com comes in. The contrast is almost crazy. Consider Afghanistan: this site publishes or posts dozens of complex, critical, and unique original analyses or viewpoints on this subject literally every month.
Matters get even worse once one leaves the interventionist establishment’s favored Greater Mideast hot spots. Try and find serious analysis on America’s adventures in Africa – not brief and bland coverage lifted from Reuters or the Associated Press – in the "papers of record." The lack of such critical examination or scrutiny in the mainstream media – you know, the purported job of the press corps – is partly what has allowed the Pentagon and four consecutive imperial presidential administrations to quietly utilize Africa as both play- and proving-ground for its "new" tech-savvy, proxy-powered, and abstract "way of war."
Not so with the writers and editors at Antiwar.com, where not only have I been on the continent’s geek-beat – to the tune of nine rather comprehensive columns since the New Year – but there’s also solid analysis from Ramzy Baroud. Plus, in any given week Dave DeCamp and Jason Ditz usually highlight several Africa-related breaking news stories. For some juxtapositional specificity, consider the case of Chad – Franco-America’s favorite hired gun. Well, since January 1st, the New York Times has run exactly four legitimately Chad-centered articles – all of which appeared between April 20-23, in the wake of the country’s Paris- and U.S.-backed strongman’s death. These weren’t exactly deep dives or complex analyses either – totaling just some 5,000 combined words. Some of my own individual Chad columns were almost as long, and way more apt to touch on in-context backstory.
Furthermore, where but Antiwar.com can one find not one, but two regular columnists covering the Caucasus-Nagorno-Karabakh beat – what with Rick Rozoff rivaling my own otherwise obscure obsession with a conflict that’s more forgotten than "frozen." The same goes for the key zones of competitive insanity where Uncle Sam could really muscle and/or blunder himself – and the world – into nuclear Armageddon: like Ukraine, the Arctic, Taiwan, or the Baltic.
And here’s another thing: in an era when most of the prominent and polite papers have long since slashed their foreign bureaus, they don’t contribute half enough on-the-spot witnessing to make up for the utter dearth of real analysis. What the columnists and staff at Antiwar.com offer is a refreshing touch of the old school, updated for the online-era – the good stuff that’s nearly extinct at most other outlets. Over here, they still think context, contrast, backstory, and accountability matter when analyzing stories that deal with death – often mass death.
Call me crazy, but that still seems like an intellectual and ethical no-brainer – only these days, it’s a formula you’d be hard-pressed to find many other places besides Antiwar.com.
The competition, the interventionists in the mainstream press, enjoy high salaries and corporate sponsorships. Antiwar.com doesn’t. They work on a shoestring budget. That’s why every dollar matters. Antiwar.com relies on you, the readers, to fight back against the war machine.
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Danny Sjursen is a retired U.S. Army officer, the director of the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy (CIP), contributing editor at Antiwar.com, and co-hosts the podcast “Fortress on a Hill.” His work has appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, The Nation, The Hill, Salon, The American Conservative, and Mother Jones, among other publications. He served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and taught history at West Point. He is the author of three books, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War, and most recently A True History of the United States. Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet.
Copyright 2021 Danny Sjursen