How is our grim and endless military project in Afghanstan (and Pakistan) going? You'd rather not think about that? Neither would the headline writers at the New York Times. Presented with multiple days of front-page-worthy bad war news this week, the morning paper has struck an odd, dissociated tone.
Here's Tuesday, when the Times covered the military court hearing into charges that five members of the Fifth Stryker Combat Brigade serially murdered Afghan civilians for kicks and cut apart the victims' bodies for souvenirs:
Drug Use Cited In the Killings Of 3 Civilians
Testimony in Afghan Case — Tapes Aired
If you're diagramming the grammar there, the subject is "drug use" and the verb is "cited." Also tapes are being aired. Vivid and shocking news, no? Bad things happen when people abuse drugs. (Or: drug abuse and murder happen in out-of-control war zones?) The online headline was the
"Court Hears of U.S. Unit Killing Afghan Civilians at Random."
Actually, the Times refrained entirely from naming the unit to which the soldiers belonged. This is a story of individuals. Four individuals, plus their individual commanding sergeant.
What else happened this week? Here's Thursday:
Subject: "video." Verb: "hints." How does the video make this hint? By containing moving images of people who dress and talk like Pakistani Army members as they use Pakistani Army guns to shoot and kill six blindfolded captives. (The Pakistani Army is on our side.)
And what is new today?
PAKISTANI DEATHS IN U.S. AIRSTRIKE STRAIN RELATIONS
The airstrike deaths are
. They are also killing Pakistanis (who are on our side). At least this time the subheads clarify the context:
THREE SOLDIERS KILLED
Crucial Supply Line for Afghan War Blocked in Retaliation
Oh, there's a
going on. That explains a lot.