INTRODUCING THE VON HOFFMAN AWARD

“The war in Afghanistan, the one [Bush] should never have declared, has run into trouble. Just a few weeks into it and it’s obvious that the United States is fighting blind. The enemy is unknown, and the enemy’s country is terra incognita. We have virtually no one we can trust who can speak the languages of the people involved. With all our firepower and our technical assets and our spy satellites, it looks like we don’t know if we’re coming or going … We are mapless, we are lost, and we are distracted by gusts of wishful thinking. That our high command could believe the Afghani peasantry or even the Taliban would change sides after a few weeks of bombing! This is fantasizing in high places. In the history of aerial bombardment, can you think of a single instance of the bombed embracing the bombers? Bombing always unites the bombees against the bombers, and-duh!-guess what the reaction has been in Afghanistan? You don’t need to speak Urdu to figure it out, which is good since none of us does … Moreover, as hellish as the Taliban are, it appears that the ordinary people of Afghanistan prefer them to the brigands and bandits with whom we’ve been trying to make common cause-and who, we’ve been hinting, will take part in a postwar government.” – Nicholas von Hoffman, New York Observer, November 14! Readers are hereby invited to search the web to find the most prophetically challenged pieces of media war-wisdom so far. Please put Von Hoffman in the subject line.