Month: August 2009

In Defense of Hamid Karzai

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

Discussion of the problems created by tribalism in Afghanistan often provokes from our own compatriots such outraged responses as, “Hey, who are we Americans to talk? We have our share of tribes too!” There’s no arguing with that. Here at home we’ve got the Bible-thumping cracker tribe, the latte-sipping liberal tribe and dozens more, all of which have to be catered to by the political process. To me though, the most useful American parallel to Afghan tribalism goes back to 1491—before the first European sail appeared off these virgin shores. Tribal America

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Weekend Mashup—August 21 to 23

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

This past week, the New York Times ran the op-ed “The Land of 10,000 Wars” by Ganesh Sitaraman. Hard to resist the urge to post the entire op-ed here. Check it out if you haven’t read it already.  

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The Writer’s Voice

By Steven Pressfield | 13 Comments

How do you find your writer’s voice? A lot of humbug has been written on this subject. The myth is that in finding that voice, the writer achieves a kind of personal enlightenment. She discovers “who she really is.” Not in my experience.

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Tribes, the Taliban and the Death of Baitullah Mahsud

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

I was very interested last week to see what would happen, in terms of leadership succession among the Pakistani Taliban, after the reputed death of Baitullah Mahsud. According to scores of press reports as well as Pakistani and Taliban spokesmen, the immediate aftermath was a shootout involving two rival successors, Hakimullah Mahsud and Wali ur-Rehman, that resulted in the death of Hakimullah Mahsud. Within two days however, Hakimullah was phoning in, according to the Economic Times, declaring not only that he was still alive but that so was Baitullah–and that the world would be hearing from both very shortly. This…

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Returning Home: Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher

By Steven Pressfield | 2 Comments

In the ancient Spartan tradition, there were only two cases when burial markers were permitted: for warriors killed in battle and for women who died in childbirth. The memorials were simple stones, often without inscriptions.  

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On Research, Or What I Learned from a Single Sheet of Fool’s Cap

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

I’ve been lucky in my career in having a few really terrific mentors–just guys who’ve taught me stuff about writing and work. The best is Norman Stahl, the cosmically brilliant documentarian, novelist and military historian. Do you know people who’ve got a lot of bullshit? Norm has the least of anybody I’ve ever known. In fact I would say Norm has absolutely NO bullshit. Here’s one thing he told me:

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Lessons From Ramadi: A Guest Post from Captain Thomas Daly

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments
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Tribes in Afghanistan: A Guest Post from Michael Yon

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

The following is a guest post from Michael Yon, which we’re really privileged to get and which I’m delighted to share. As I type this, Michael is reporting from Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Check out Michael Yon Online Magazine to read his reports. Michael is a former Green Beret, who has reported from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. It is also important to note that Michael is an independent combat journalist—unaffiliated with any other news organization—and among the best of this generation of reporters.

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The Nature of Epiphanies

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

[This is “Writing Wednesdays,” #3. Our winner–of a signed copy of The War of Art–is David Cutshall. Here’s the fave quote he sent in: “Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some idea of what we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.” Thanks, David! The following takes off from there.]

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The Bizarro World of COIN in a Tribal Setting

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

Remember the Bizarro World, from Seinfeld and Superman comics? Everything is its opposite in the Bizarro World. Up is down, black is white, in is out. Students of Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Tribal Engagement tell us it’s the same in their field. Who would have thought, for example, that killing bad guys would be a no-no? Or that a good old-fashioned grease-the-palm payoff would prove as effective as “winning hearts and minds?”

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