This photo is in black and white not for effect, but to tone it down. I make light of things on this blog, but there really is a war going on. I wish it were a clean one. As clean as war could be, that is. There haven't ever really been wars in history that involve only the people who want to fight them.
I don't believe that this war will be won with guns. The trite phrase of "winning the hearts and minds" while cliche garbage comes closer to the truth of this war than any other. War is the ultimate expression of politics - persuassion at the end of a gun or the last word in any argument.
This is a war of Information. A war trying to establish the supremecy of ideas and ideology. The gun fire is just for effect. Effect upon the minds of the populace, of the press, of the politicians.
Maybe most wars are fought this way in "modern" times. But with the media of today it is so much more potent and pervasive.
So when President Karzai makes inflamatory remarks against the "West," it is that much more serious. When the NY Times prints an article discussing the supposed hopelessness of our presence here it is an attack against our "cause." And when the USA Today prints an article about the ineffectiveness of the Afghan Government for entertainment purposes and "eyeballs" on their paper, they are playing on the side of the "bad guys."
If it's about ideas and ideology, any support for the "other side's" position or any comment criticizing "our side" no matter how deserved is an attack.
This isn't a call for censorship or a demand for us to develop a propaganda machine. But it is a call to recognize that words are weapons. Today's battlefront may take lives with guns, but the war will be won by one idea proving superior to another. By enough people choosing one idea over another. It may take a gun to protect that idea, but the idea is the thing. Not the gun.
The AK-47 variant, the Chinese Type 56-1 in this picture is an example of an idea - the Russians invented it. The Chinese copied it. An Afghan insurgent got it. Then died with his brains all over it. His idea proved insufficient to the task.