Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our Side or Their Side

You might think the brutally stupid 2001 Bush declarations of "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" or the slightly refined "You are either with us or against us" has been thoroughly discredited--but not on NPR.

On Friday's ATC, Jackie Northam, wrapping up NPR's series on the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, turns to three main sources for her report. First is Anthony Cordesman whose bio notes "formerly served as national security assistant to Senator John McCain of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and as civilian assistant to the deputy secretary of defense....Cordesman has been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal." Her second expert is Quite an Adventure Bob Grenier who we are told was "the CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1999 to 2002." Her third source is...another CIA spokesperson, Bruce Riedel who Northam - in all seriousness - describes as having "spent nearly three decades in counter-terrorism at the CIA" (and I guess Putin worked for decades on East German democracy for the KGB!).

From this wide range of ideological opinion you can be sure that you won't hear any questioning of the US right to dictate policy in Pakistan/Afghanistan or the history of the US' role in creating the violence of the region. All you hear are differences of tactics.
  • Cordesman states that "we have never put significant resources into this war...we have let the Taliban grow in power without providing anything like the resources we provided in Iraq."
  • Bob Grenier "says the US may have to abandon the idea of creating one [a strong central Afghan government] and start dealing with the tribal leaders...says it's important to build up local forces in the Pashtun area along the border with Pakistan."
  • Lastly, "Riedel says the next President needs to make it clear to Pakistan's new government that those days are over." We then hear Riedel stating that "one of the things he needs to convey to Islamabad is that the time for double dealing is over. You need to be on one side of the war on terror -- our side or their side."
You might wonder where Northam goes with that one. She drones: "for its part the US has stepped up attacks on suspected Taliban hideouts using unmanned predator aircraft..." Yep, we are doing our part...

For better information on the US created horror (and likely continuing nightmare) of Afghanistan without the mind and soul killing "our side, their side" nonsense be sure to read Anand Gopal's recent piece and Nir Rosen's Rolling Stone article. You might hear from people like these on DemocracyNow! but I doubt we'll be hearing from them on NPR anytime soon.

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