Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Counterinsurgency Channel

If you were listening to NPR last night you might have thought Tom Bowman was describing US foreign policy in Afghanistan when he said, "picture a Brinks truck on steroids." Actually he was simply describing a US armored vehicle.

The report itself is meant to promote an aspect of US counterinsurgency in Afghanistan - the training of Afghan police as part of Task Force Phoenix [what dumb ass names these operations anyway?]. The report opens with some great editorializing from Michele Norris:
"If American policy is ever to be successful in Afghanistan, it will be because of people like Army Major Jim Contreras; he's the top American police trainer in Helmand province in Southern Afghanistan. Afghan police are key to fighting insurgents: they know the neighborhoods, the people, who is an insurgent and who is not."
In spite of the likely failure of the US "mission" in Afghanistan - and the dismal (and lucrative) history of the US training program for Afghan police forces, Norris assures us that this will be the "key to fighting insurgents." It's striking, too, how apropos of nothing, Norris confidently asserts that they know "who is an insurgent and who is not"?

There is nothing in the report to indicate how disastrous the new Bushama/Obamush War in Af-Pak will be, instead there is the focus on one program (and one man) that will deliver that ever elusive, mythical (can you say Phoenix?) success that empires are always gunning for in Afghanistan.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Task Force Phoenix"

How can someone who went to Columbia and Harvard (Obama) be so oblivious of the Vietnam War?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -- George Santayana

Obama is looking a lot like Lyndon Johnson: preaching change but practicing business as usual.

WarOnWarOff said...

Iz hour mpyres larnin' yet?

Porter Melmoth said...

It appears that NPR is using the term 'top' a lot, when describing players in current events. Not 'best' or 'most talented' or even 'most competent'.

Of course, such terms would be too partisan for an impartial news organization, but terms like 'activist judge' are probably OK...

Porter Melmoth said...

My Afghan friend tells me that there is and always has been PLENTY of high-level squabbling amongst the Nato forces in A'stan, and that's a story that isn't picked up at all by any media, as far as I can tell. They're supposed to be one big happy family fighting the good fight for the downtrodden.

Meanwhile, in the Poppy Belt, biz is brisker than ever. And it's all those darn sodbusters' fault!!!

PS: The best gig for Americans is way out west, in Herat province. It's cushy 'n peaceful, and the bases are lavish B-dad-style Green Zones, but without the surrounding conflict.

miranda said...

Regarding Obama's obliviousness to war and its consequences: I have always marveled that, though he is the same age as I am (almost to the day), he seems to have grown up in a different era.

He has a history of disappointing people who expect him to represent their interests. It goes back even to his days in college and as Prez of the Law Review. How many more of these about-faces will we have to see before it's recognized that his election was a massive bait-and-switch and yet another fraud on the electorate?

Anonymous said...

I went to an Ivy league school and certainly understand how insulated the Ivy league is from the real world and especially from wars like Vietnam that so many Ivy leaguers (Bush, Cheney, etc) got "excused" from.

but what I don't understand is how someone could spend close to a decade at such schools and not once crack open a book about the Vietnam war, out of curiosity if nothing else.

And certainly anyone who is running for President should be reading up on such things so that they do not make the same mistakes that their predecessors made.

But it appears that Obama is doing just that in Afghanistan and Pakistan (eg, with his drone/bombing campaign).

We've seen this movie before and it did not turn out well the last time (or the time before that).

I know for a fact that some very smart people go to schools like Harvard so it surprises me when someone appears to make very basic mistakes as Obama is making.

Did he learn NOTHING (other then how to make a speech) while he was at Columbia and Harvard?

democommie said...

miranda:

It could have been far, far worse. Not sayin' it's good, but it could have been far worse.

I tend to hear both liberal and conservative values espoused on NPR, too few of the former, by far.

It is what it is. I'll take what I can get from them as compared to almost all other broadcast/cable media they are better. Sad truth, but truth.

b!p!f!b! said...

What's the diff, DemoCom, when it's just the same sludge only served in a deep roast with a froth on top?

Anonymous said...

I'll take what I can get from them as compared to almost all other broadcast/cable media they are better. Sad truth, but truth.'

In at least one regard they are worse -- much worse.

They masquerade as a "balanced news source".

First, the whole idea that journalists are somehow totally objective observers of the situation is just too funny fro words.

Second, the idea that there is no subjective truth so we might as well feed people two opinions (which are often really the same opinion) is also a joke.

That's not journalism. It is sheer laziness. It's what someone does instead of journalism.

For some reason, we have come to accept very low expectations for our public officials, our media -- and ourselves.

Until this changes, nothing else will.

Anonymous said...

RE: "I tend to hear both liberal and conservative values espoused on NPR....as compared to almost all other broadcast/cable media they are better. Sad truth, but truth."

Any EVIDENCE to support that opinion?
I see CNN at the gym all the time and their coverage seems about the same - sometimes better, sometimes not...

gopol said...

Nigerian Forces Move Against Oil Militants is a charming and in-depth look at the situation in Nigeria - or not. It's quite a bit different story than I heard on Democracy Now.

Even the actors are different. On NPR it's the "miltants" who want more of the oil wealth they don't properly deserve vs. the flawed democratic government (what can you expect from these ignorant third world countries, really?) whose "security forces" are angry about hurting themselves while killing villagers...or something: they certainly are very angry about something!

On DN there's this Saro-Wiwa guy who preached non-violence (before being hung by the flawed democracy on trumped up charges) and his surviving family and friends vs. Chevron's Condoleezza Rice (the oil tanker) poisoning the environment and thus leaving the people with no means of survival, imposing a kangaroo government and etc.....and in a US courtroom. No courtroom in the NPR story.

You wonder how Quist-Arcton contributes to shaping the story. It seems she'll be taking a prominent roll in NPR coverage of West Africa - this treatment augurs ill. After all, we wouldn't want 100000 brl/day to be jeapordized in any way. After all, they only make 4.388 million USD per employee.

Anonymous said...

Even the actors are different. On NPR it's the "miltants" who want more of the oil wealth they don't properly deserve vs. the flawed democratic government (what can you expect from these ignorant third world countries, really?)"

Hmm, I wonder how NPR would characterize the US if they were located outside looking in.

That's the best litmus test for propaganda.

If your terminology would change significantly when you change your perspective, it means you are almost certainly reporting propaganda rather than news.

I'm quit sure NPR would fail this test rather dramatically.

NPR uses ALL the same buzzwords that the US government uses to describe the world. What more proof does one need that they are attached at the hip?