For those of you actually interested in understanding the mess in the Middle East – consider the outstanding coverage of Michael Yon. He’s a great writer – and an even greater photographer:
Some days ago I visited the bazaar at Jalalabad, and took a bunch of colorful photographs and met many friendly people. Walking through Jalalabad, one could almost forget there was a war. But for the most part, this war is today being fought not in the cities, but the villages and small family compounds where most Afghanis live.
Urban counterinsurgency can be incredibly dangerous, yet the population has a common life. City dwellers are dependent on civil services like water, sewage and electricity; they often have specialized roles in complex economies. Their feelings and opinions form a political aggregate which both the democrat and terrorist must heed. These elements of common life give the urban population a center of gravity which can reach a tipping point and shift, either toward the insurgent or the government. In Iraq, most people live in cities or towns. When the center of gravity in certain communities began shifting against Al Qaeda and other groups, the shifts had a profound impact on the war. Also, Iraq, as Afghanistan, has powerful tribes which can behave like “voting blocs.” Often they vote with bullets.
I’d call it: Reporting, minus the bull-crap. If you still haven’t checked out his stuff – you owe it to yourself. His reporting come straight from the ground – and it will actually elevate your knowledge and understanding of the situation, unlike much of the dumbed down, dope-tastic (not to mention: negative) coverage you’ll get from other sources.