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Nov. 11 2009 - 4:02 pm | 4 views | 1 recommendation | 1 comment

The floating heads of a bunch of white guys will determine our Afghanistan policy

The Washington media is as the Washington media does. And one of the things it often does is assemble a bunch of experts to tell you about the ‘varied perspectives’ on an issue. And often these exercises only serve to remind you how deferential the DC insider media are to the old white dudes who have been around in Washington forever talking about the same stuff over and over again. In doing this, they subtly communicate that they just don’t care enough about what other voices, such as women and people of color, have to say about major issues of the day.

Take The New Republic for instance.

Today, they published the efforts of an associate editor and three interns who have apparently been well-schooled in their lessons by finding 19 white guys (and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to show us the varied perspectives on what we should do in Afghanistan. This is what it looked like:

The ‘Should We Stay or Should We Go?’ Matrix

Where our top opinion-makers stand on the Afghanistan question.

via The ‘Should We Stay Or Should We Go?’ Matrix | The New Republic.


I’ll let you click through to find out who all of these floating heads are. But if they had undertaken a little effort, they could at least have found a few more women to make sure there were a few less Y chromosomes on the X and Y axes of that graph. It’s really not that hard. Here are just a few examples whose thoughts on Afghanistan are at least as useful and worthwhile as those of David Brooks, Andrew McCarthy, Tom Friedman, or Rory Stewart:

  • Arianna Huffington (Disclosure: my former boss), made a big splash a few weeks back when she called on Vice President Biden to resign if he really disagreed with President Obama’s approach on Afghanistan.
  • A Vice President at the American Enterprise Institute, Danielle Pletka, has made the case for why we have to get Afghanistan right.
  • Barbara Elias of the National Security Archive at George Washington University explained why we probably won’t be able to buy off the Taliban in a recent article for Foreign Affairs.
  • Samina Ahmed and Candace Rondeaux help the International Crisis Group generate some of the most insightful, thorough, and ground-based analysis of what’s happening in Afghanistan.

Without that much effort, that’s five women whose voices could have been added to TNR’s almost all-dude grid on Afghanistan. I guess the magazine has already gone to print, but it’s never too late to fix your mistakes online. I advise TNR send their web posting of the grid back to rewrite and remind their bright young things that you don’t have to be a white guy or a Secretary of State to be an opinion-maker on America’s war in Afghanistan.


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    I'm waiting for the day when I can get the news directly into my brain. Until then, I'll be lit up by the electric glow of screens, chasing the latest breaking like the hopeless news junkie I am. Ever since the Encyclopaedia Britannica tried to launch a web portal ten years ago, I've seen many ends of the online news spectrum, from my time as a political news reporter for both RawStory.com and the Huffington Post to the better part of a year I spent running the late New York Sun's website. There have been a lot of other stops in between. Now I am your homepage editorial overlord. But I haven't let it go to my head. Yet.

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