The NY Times front page today features not one, but two stories about Afghanistan. One is a largely pictorial essay (view the slideshow) about the architectural evidence that remains from the Soviet Union’s influence in Kabul decades ago.
It’s the other, however, that is so strikingly concurrent with Sleeper, the play we’re about to open this Thursday. The headline reads, “Risks of Afghan War Shift From Soldiers to Contractors.”
In David Ian Lee’s Sleeper, one of the characters, Bobby Goffin, leaves his hospital consulting in the U.S. behind to take a job building roads in Afghanistan, a job he believes will be very safe.
A stand-out statement from the article – “More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.” What follows is a pretty shocking list of statistics, including the fact that “at least 430 employees of American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan” and “according to the Labor Department’s statistics, 1,777 American contractors in Afghanistan were injured or wounded seriously.” And we don’t even know the real numbers, because these private companies aren’t required to reveal all the details.
We’ve spent a lot of time reading about the history of the Afghanistan-Pakistan chaos and studying the most current events and policies with respect to our recent actions in the region. Even so, it’s hard not to view it with detachment, the events being so far away, and there being so many months since Afghanistan has been a nightly part of the news cycle. But there’s nothing like a front page headline to make it so much more visceral and immediate.
Read the NY Times stories online here:
Risks of Afghan War Shift From Soldiers to Contractors
In Afghanistan, a Soviet Past Lies in Ruins
See Sleeper starting February 16.