"The increase in American troops this summer is in some sense an effort to make good on a promise that the international community made back in 2001 - to bring peace and a measure of prosperity to a country that's been at war for decades..."Bringing peace and prosperity...of course. How's that for objective journalism?
To bolster the story that the US has nothing but the noblest aims NPR turns to Seth Jones, RAND expert on Afghanistan. He explains that the problem of the Soviet Army's war in Afghanistan was "their decision to treat this as a conventional war and what becomes clear when you look at counterinsurgency operations is the focus should be on protecting the local population not on killing it."
Every time I hear someone talking about counterinsurgency "protecting the local population" it blows my mind. Just what alternate universe counterinsurgency is Jones talking about? Anyone who reads history knows that most counterinsurgency operations are about extreme levels of state terror being applied to vulnerable - usually poor - civilian populations. I'm thinking of Vietnam, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Indonesia, East Timor and of course the US godchild of counterinsurgency - Guatemala.
Montagne jumps in to explain that [protecting the local population] "is now the catch-phrase if you will of the US military...McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, that's precisely what he says US troops and NATO troops are there to do now."
Oh silly me, I didn't realize that the "top US commander" said that's what the US military is doing - dang! I guess if the good general says it's so then it must be true. Seth Jones is not about to disagree either, stating that "the focus...has shifted to try to protect the local population." I guess it's not only the military that owns this catch-phrase.
Lastly, the report closes with Inskeep's announcement that "Renee is packing her bags to travel to Afghanistan and we'll be hearing from her..." That is great news, Montagne has done some really profound reporting from Afghanistan including stories of BIG VICTORIES.