Weekly Roundup

There's really not a weekly roundup. Maybe I'll start one as a way of avoiding too many links.

The situation in Afghanistan is scary. I feel terrible for the Afghan people, but I am glad that we are ending our military occupation. My foreign policy days are behind me, so I won't pretend to have any great insights. But the experts who managed to keep us there for 20 years never managed any accurate insights, either.

I'm happy to discuss the issue with anyone, but I'll start by asking them if they've read the Washington Post's Afghanistan Papers. I'll then ask them to look at our increasingly tense political divides in America. Could they ever envision an outside power occupying America militarily with the intention of helping us overcome our problems? I can't. We would never accept it. Thinking that we are capable of shaping another country smacks of American Exceptionalism.

There's really no other way to put it - the U.S Government, across the board, lied about Afghanistan starting at about day #2.

I sent that tweet to some friends, and we started talking about the movie War Machine. Great movie, based on Michael Hastings' work covering Afghanistan and General McChrystal. I swear my powers of manifestation are strong. Later I went to see some friends who have started new jobs at a bar. A woman sat next to me and ordered a War Machine. I'd never heard of the drink. It was a custom creation of a former manager. I asked about the ingredients, but it was too loud, I only caught whiskey and cointreau. She was rad. Works in theather, whipped out one of those accordion fans to beat the sweltering heat, and had the drink's ingredients written down on a coaster in case the bartender didn't know the drink.

A friend of mine called to tell me "I told you so" with respect to an argument we had about Afghanistan in March 2020. How's that for a memory! He claims I argued that Trump's peace deal with the Taliban was going to be a huge accomplishment and that it would usher in a tidy ending. I disagreed with how he remembered the conversation, but it was in Taos in the early days of the pandemic. I'd had more than a few beers, I was anxious about everything, and I was probably a little extra argumentative and plenty wrong. I still think he's putting an inaccurate spin on my argument. (I sent him the link. He has a witness, so around them, I will probably have to own up to some bad arguments. But since it's my blog, I can say they misinterpreted my comments.)

First, Trump didn't finalize any agreement with the Taliban, and that administration was such a shit show that I wasn't confident they'd be able to negotiate a meaningful agreement. I would like to think I argued that Trump was the first person to take actual steps to wind down the Forever Wars. I know Biden is on record for wanting to get out of Afghanistan, but I suspect if Trump hadn't started the process, we'd still be seeing inter-agency meetings brainstorming how to get out in 2023. And then Biden might lose, and we'd be there through 2032. Remember how Obama wanted to get us out of Guantanamo? I guess I don't have a Second.

Steve Coll, the author of Ghost Wars, knows more about that region's troubled history than I ever will. Isaac Chotiner at The New Yorker has a good interview with him on the subject. I think Coll would have liked to see a longer, small U.S. presence. I disagree with him, but I respect his position. Again, he's smarter than I am, and I don't think he's coming at it from a neocon angle.

I've mentioned previously that I'm obsessed with climate change articles. I can't stop reading them. I'm convinced that the barrage of articles reflects a growing oh shit awareness by everyone. I'm aware that there's the potential to be living through heat waves and smoky skies while reading too many climate change articles and having that lead to my exaggerated fears. I hope that ends up being the case. I don't think it will.

CNN has an excellent piece by photographer Camille Seaman looking at her decades-long work in Antarctica. The photos and observations are fantastic. There's a segue to some of her past work in Svalbard, Norway. She says she stopped going because the changing circumstances increased the likelihood of encountering polar bears. She didn't want to be the reason a polar bear had to be shot.

The New York Times has an interesting article about the problems facing coastal New Jersey. Devin Oktar Yalkin adds some incredible photos.

I just renewed my site's subscription with Ghost. That gives me a year to try to find my way with writing and documentary photography. I've accepted that it's going to almost certainly be a side effort, and that's fine. But if I'm still meandering about in a year, I'll probably have to look at moving to something like Substack. I've got nothing against Substack, but I don't want to leave Ghost. I really like their product and the people behind it. On that note - they're hiring. If I had tech chops, I'd be looking at this company. Here's a link to their job postings. If you score one, finnagle me a discount next year.