1) "Anatomy of an Afghan War Tragedy," by David Cloud, in yesterday's Los Angeles Times. This is the most vivid recent rendering of a truth that in our bones we all understand: that the most technologically advanced, complex, and "sophisticated" new U.S. combat tools are ill-matched to the realities of a mountainous, pre-modern society with no obvious battle lines or clear distinctions between friend and foe. Read this story before your next discussion on whether American strategy can "succeed" in Afghanistan. Read and weep.
2) "M," by John Sack, published in Esquire forty-five years ago with the cover line, "Oh My God -- We Hit a Little Girl!" Bonus question/current-events IQ test: See if you can guess why I am suggesting reading these two stories back to back.
This John Sack article, which I remember seeing as a teenager, is part of a wonderful Esquire project of putting "The 7 Greatest Stories in the History of Esquire Magazine" on line, in their entirety. Congrats to Esquire's Tim Heffernan for this effort, and to the Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf for the tip to it, via his The Best of Journalism site.
Can't say it often enough: by far the best way to read these long online essays is with Instapaper, which sends beautifully and readably formatted versions to your iPad, Kindle, portable computer, etc. More about it here.
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