Prominent Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid responded with frustration and consternation when asked by the BBC about a section of George W. Bush's memoir that appears to have been partially lifted from Rashid's own work. Rashid's best-selling English-language books include a widely read 2000 history of the Taliban and a 2008 book on the Afghan War, which is at times witheringly critical of U.S. strategy and the Bush administration's leadership. Here's the relevant excerpt from Rashid's 2004 article in the New York Review of Books, "The Mess in Afghanistan":
Fahim walked up to the plane accompanied by nearly one hundred bodyguards, loyalists, and ministers all bristling with weapons. Karzai got off the plane with just four companions. As the two men shook hands on the tarmac, Fahim looked confused. “Where are your men?” he asked. Karzai turned to him in his disarmingly gentle manner of speaking. “Why General,” he replied, “you are my men—all of you are Afghans and are my men—we are united now—surely that is why we fought the war and signed the Bonn agreement?”
And here's the relevant section from Bush's memoir, Decision Points.
When Karzai arrived in Kabul for his inauguration on 22 December - 102 days after 9/11 - several Northern Alliance leaders and their bodyguards greeted him at an airport. As Karzai walked across the tarmac alone, a stunned Tajik warlord asked where all his men were. "Karzai responded: 'Why, General, you are my men. All of you who are Afghans are my men.'"
The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim, who first reported the similarity, accused Bush of "lifting" it as part of his "higher crimes against the craft of memoir." The BBC's Alastair Lawston concurs that "parts of [Rashid's] work appear to have been plagiarised by President Bush." Whether or not the similarities really amount to plagiarism, Rashid told Lawston he is upset:
You would expect an American president's researchers to come up with an acknowledgement, at least if they wanted to lift somebody else's articles or comments.
Unfortunately neither President Bush nor his researchers paid me that compliment nor have they apologised since the quote was spotted some days ago.
My children and their friends and some journalist colleagues want me to sue him, but I told them I would do no such thing.
Other friends and colleagues have said it was a big joke, but in all seriousness I am not laughing.
It is never a compliment when politicians plagiarise ideas or comments from journalists without acknowledging their work. Unfortunately it happens all the time.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.