The end of a Wall Street Journal article (7/14/11) on a new report on Afghan deaths highlights the peculiarity of their culture: Of civilian casualties, 2 percent were caused by night raids, slightly down from last year, with 30 fatalities, the report says. Night raids have been a contentious issue between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military officers and civilian leaders. The raids are sensitive in Afghanistan, because foreign soldiers burst into civilian homes, where strangers are unwelcome in the country's conservative Islamic traditions. What a strange place. I guess in a civilized society, when a foreign soldier bursts […]
An analysis in USA Today (6/23/11) by Richard Wolf claims: President Obama's decision to remove 10,000 troops from Afghanistan this year and a total of 33,000 by next September was deemed a step in the right direction Wednesday by a growing, and bipartisan, anti-war movement. Really? I'm not aware of many people in the "anti-war movement" who have expressed that sentiment. And neither is USA Today, judging by the quotes that are included in the article. The piece notes that "Many Democrats called for a faster drawdown" and "Many liberal Democrats demanded more troops home sooner"– naming Sen. Carl Levin, […]
The headline in today's Post, previewing Obama's speech tonight: Obama's Challenge: Leaving, but Not Too Quickly Funny how it's not the other way around–leaving too slowly would seem to be a larger political problem, given the state of public opinion. The Post reports: President Obama will face a stiff political challenge Wednesday in presenting his plan for a gradual end to the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. His prime-time address must remind a skeptical electorate and a concerned Congress that the country's longest war remains worth fighting–and funding–for several more years. Why is it that Obama must "remind" the public […]
One of the most common criticisms of the PBS NewsHour is that it too often mimics the elite bias of the commercial media. A recent broadcast of the NewsHour (6/8/11) had two segments about the debate over the Afghan War–the first a news report covering the Senate nomination hearings for Ryan Crocker, Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan. Quoted in the piece were senators Jim Webb (D.-Va.) and Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Barack Obama. The discussion segment that accompanied it featured two more senators: Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez. […]
Afghan president Hamid Karzai denounced once again U.S./NATO airstrikes that killed civilians. In this recent incident, 14 were killed, including 11 children. This prompted ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer (5/31/11) to call in ABC reporters to sort things out, leading to this exchange with Pentagon reporter Martha Raddatz: SAWYER: He's talking to the Afghan people. But Martha, he put restrictions on what U.S. troops can do, what the NATO troops can do. How onerous are these? RADDATZ: Well, he's trying to put restrictions on. I mean they simply have to carry out air strikes over there. It's a very […]
OK, this isn't Sean Hannity's byline in the Post today, but it might as well be. The headline should stop you: In bin Laden Victory, Echoes of the Bush Years The piece–actually written by Scott Wilson and Anne Kornblut–lays out the argument: As President Obama celebrates the signature national-security success of his tenure, he has a long list of people to thank. On the list: George W. Bush. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, Bush waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have forged a military so skilled that it carried out a complicated covert raid with only a minor […]
During an interview on CNN last night (5/1/11) with New York firefighter and 9/11 first responder Kenny Specht: BLITZER: Did you ever give up hope, Kenny, that the U.S. would kill bin Laden? SPECHT: No, but I'd be lying to you, Wolf, I'd be lying to you if I thought about it every night. No, I didn't give up hope. That's all we had. That's all we had. It's like anything else, though. It's just sometimes we think that when it's not spoken about anymore, we wonder really what's being done. I mean, we're in a quagmire, for lack of […]
Readers of the Washington Post can see this headline in today's edition (4/25/11) about the U.S. drone airstrikes: Debates Underway on Combat Drones But there is no actual debate in the article. Reporter Walter Pincus cites a British military study that calls the use of missile-firing drones "a genuine revolution in military affairs," adding that the "use of unmanned aircraft prevents the potential loss of aircrew lives and is thus in itself morally justified." Pincus goes on to explain: At a Washington conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) last week, the issue of drones was also widely […]
The Los Angeles Times' Michael Muskal explains Obama's 2012 campaign: Running for reelection is different than running for the first time because the incumbent has a record that voters can evaluate. Obama will cite healthcare insurance overhaul, his administration's response to the recession and his foreign policy, which includes winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Afghan War is winding down? Well, that would be news. Forget about Obama having "a record that voters can evaluate." I'm moreconcerned about reporters' inability to evaluate the present.
Washington Post Dana Milbank (3/19/11) skewers the Republicans for their "emergency meeting" to defund NPR: This particular emergency involved the lower end of the FM radio dial. Republicans, in an urgent budget-cutting maneuver, were voting to cut off funding for National Public Radio. All $5 million of it–or one ten-thousandth of 1 percent of the federal budget. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office ran the numbers and calculated the impact this emergency measure would have on government spending: "No effect." One of the rules of corporate media balanceisthat if you criticize Republicans, you have to findan example of similarbuffoonery on the […]
The new Washington Post/ABC poll is on the front page of the paper today (3/15/11): Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, the highest proportion yet opposed to the conflict, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. The Post's write-up includes a lot of strange language about the political situation for the White House: "a growing challenge for President Obama,""a difficult political challenge,""an awkward issue for the president." A more direct way of putting it would be to say thatObama's war policy is massively unpopular. A broader point: No matter how […]
CNN/Time pundit Fareed Zakaria is considered one of the smartest guys in elite policy/media circles.Speaking with CNN host Anderson Cooper on Friday(3/4/11), he advocated CIA intervention in Libya. Deriding a no-fly zone as something less than a "magic solution," he explained: ZAKARIA: There's a lot of covert stuff we can do. We can effectively fund the Contra war against Gadhafi the way we did in Afghanistan. COOPER: So you think the opposition should be armed? ZAKARIA: I think the opposition–I think that the CIA should start looking into covert actions that can fund the rebels, that can provide food, logistics, […]
Froma March 2 report on CNN about the U.S. killing nine Afghan boys: MICHAEL HOLMES: I mean, just another terrible thing. We've seen this happen before. DON LEMON: Yes. Sad all the way around. He did apologize, but still. HOLMES: It does a lot of damage to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. You don't win hearts and minds that way. LEMON: Absolutely. Thank you, Michael. I can think of bigger problem here than the"damageto the U.S. mission."