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Exchange with EDP's Sam Russell re: Afghanistan article

 
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Ian



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 111
Location: Norwich, England

Post Post subject: Exchange with EDP's Sam Russell re: Afghanistan article Reply with quote

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Dear Sam

Thanks for your additional response. I agree that further communication probably won't be productive, so will also leave the exchange here.

I would only add that we don't actually know whether Private Darton is "saving lives", as he or the British soldiers he keeps safe could well be taking lives too. I'm fairly sure you didn't ask his wife this - very important - question. As it is nothing to do with editorial policy, I look forward to your next "colour piece" titled 'Local Norfolk soldier is taking lives in Afghanistan'...

Kind regards

Ian



Ian,

Editorial policy had nothing to do with it. I was contacted by the wife of a local soldier who is delighted to be working with dogs to defuse IEDs, and that is what I wrote the story about. I do not seek to strong arm politics into every story I write, and there are many aspects to the war beyond questions of legitimacy of the conflict.

If you have questions for the EDPís editor I suggest you address those to him and not to me, and if you have a story on an opposition protest or similar I suggest you email details to the newsdesk or the relevant district office (I cover Great Yarmouth). I get the impression weíll have to agree to disagree re: the above article, so I shall leave this exchange here.

Best,

Sam Russell, Reporter



Dear Sam

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my email.

One can imagine a similar report in a local Russian newspaper about a Russian soldier and his dog defusing landmines planted by the insurgents during the Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s - 'One man and his dog are saving lives'. Or by a local Iraqi newspaper about an Iraqi soldier and his dog defusing landmines planted by the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. However, I strongly suspect you don't think the Russian or Iraqi soldier were "saving lives", right?

I presumed, of course, that you were asked to write "a colour piece" rather than something that addressed the wider issues of the war. I would only add that the EDP has backed the Afghan war (and the Iraq war) to the hilt and reports such as yours do little to question or resist this increasingly unpopular and deadly editorial policy (417 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan as of today). As opinion polls consistently show the majority of the British public would like British troops withdrawn as soon as possible, perhaps you could write "a colour piece" on people in Norfolk who oppose the continuing British occupation of Afghanistan? Do you think your editor at the EDP would allow this?

Ian



Ian,

I appreciate there is a wider debate on the politics of war Ė but this article does not concern that. It is about celebrating a young manís efforts to locate and defuse IEDs, which do not discriminate who their victims are when they explode. As a colour piece it does not concern the broader political dialogue, and I fail to see the issue with stating that efforts to disarm IEDs are saving lives. I do not intend to discuss the rights and wrongs of the British mission in Afghanistan here, but needless to say I scrutinise statements from the authorities when they are the subject of a story.

Best,

Sam Russell, Reporter



Dear Sam

As a regular reader of the Eastern Daily Press, I read with interest your recent story on a local British soldier in Afghanistan titled 'One man and his dog are saving lives' (http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/how_one_great_yarmouth_man_and_his_dog_are_saving_soldier_s_lives_in_afghanistan_1_1397214).

It seems to me that Private Connor Darton and his dog Tink are only "saving lives" if you support the British mission in Afghanistan and assume the "lives" in question are "British lives". If you were being objective, surely the headline should have read 'One man and his dog are saving British lives'?

I say this because the British army are involved in a military occupation of Afghanistan, and therefore a key participant in the escalating violence that is leading to the deaths of thousands of Afghans - insurgents and civilians. To take just two recent news stories:

- The Guardian: "The British military is continuing to co-operate closely with the [Afghan intelligence service] NDS when interrogating detainees at a prison at the British base at Camp Bastion in Helmand province." (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/09/british-military-pressure-afghan-prisoners)

- Associated Press: "One of the most powerful men on the Taliban council, Agha Jan Motasim... chastised the West, singling out the United States and Britain, for failing to bolster the moderates within the fundamentalist Islamic movement by refusing to recognize the Taliban as a political identity and backtracking on promises - all of which he said strengthens the hard-liners and weakens moderates like himself." (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hi3fZ6MvM-6bd3h7FiyMpo5wVCjA?docId=b2c4e40e2c874b0b89e8347bc41585eb)

With these facts in mind, clearly Private Darton and Tink, as part of the British military in Afghanistan, are contributing to a British military policy that is causing suffering and death in Afghanistan. Do you agree? Or am I missing something?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

Ian Sinclair
Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:18 pm
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