I thought this Laura Seay piece lambasting English language coverage of Mali pretty outstanding. I know nothing about Mali and thus haven’t commented on it except to express sadness at the loss of cultural heritage (and yay! most of the Timbuktu manuscripts have survived thanks to people taking them into their own homes). But that hasn’t stopped many “experts” from talking on an issue about which they know little. The best part is Seay showing the foolishness of cheap, meaningless comparisons between Mali and Afghanistan.
Of course, it’s not just major publications doing this. It’s also famous critics of American foreign policy.
This also reminds me of an old professor of mine who worked on the Philippines telling me that the large majority of “experts” writing and talking about the Philippines during the Marcos-Aquino years had no knowledge of Tagalog and really didn’t know what they were talking about. I suppose that’s pretty common with countries off the radar of most Americans.