L'Affaire Rosen

Friend of the blog Nir Rosen, who wrote a recent article about the Taliban for Rolling Stone (for which he embedded himself with the a Taliban platoon), is under attack for lack of patriotism. Rosen has been under attack before, since he views the recent US wars as imperialist (that's what he told Joe Biden) and has a bizarre enthusiasm for dangerous people and places. Nonetheless, he's produced some of the most original reporting that's out there.

The criticism against him reached rather exaggerated levels at the generally respectable war nerd blog Small Wars Journal, where commentator Bing West, after making a series of reduction ad hitlerum remarks about journalists being unpatriotic, asserts that "It is morally wrong for an American citizen to deceive friendly troops in order to sneak into enemy territory in the company of enemy soldiers." West longs for the days of moral clarity when people like Rosen, caught behind enemy lines, who simply be shot:

Rosen described how he and two Taliban fighters deceived the guards at a government checkpoint. Suppose during World War II an American reporter had sneaked through the lines with two German officers wearing civilian clothes. “When we caught enemy combatants out of uniform in the 1940s,” a veteran wrote in The American Heritage, “we sometimes simply executed them.” The Greatest Generation had a direct way of dealing with moral ambiguity.


An argument for the summary execution of journalists who take a look across enemy lines?
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.