Media Alert: Holbrooke & Obama’s Afghanistan Report


holbrooke brussels forum.jpgFor those following America’s increasingly high cost misadventure in Afghanistan, check out Elisabeth Bumiller’s account of the grim intelligence estimates on US progress there.
At 10 am EST time this morning, I will be chatting with Brian Lehrer of the NPR affiliated WNYC Brian Lehrer Show about Richard Holbrooke and what his absence means for America’s Afghanistan course.
And about 1:30 pm EST this afternoon, I’ll be on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell discussing the expected Afghanistan Strategic Review update that President Obama will be offering tomorrow.
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “Media Alert: Holbrooke & Obama’s Afghanistan Report

  1. David says:

    A war of attrition?
    Also, military folk are better at fighting a war than they are at knowing whether or not we should be in that war. It is absolutely not true that one had to be a troop in Viet Nam to understand that war. Insight-driven people were found all across that spectrum, and no one had a special capacity for judgment either because they had or had not served.
    It was a civilian understanding that the Axis had to be defeated, as it should have been, and military understandings that made it possible.
    I’m with Holbrooke’s final words.


  2. Warren Metzler says:

    Thank you for that link,erichwwk. Everyone should go to counterpunch and read that article. It shows the US in its true light, and shows Holbrooke for what he is. I think that Steve has an obligation to read that article, and then post here on his blog an explanation as to why that article’s information is false, or why if it is true we should accept anything he’s presented in the past couple of days about Holbrooke.
    I loved this part: “the agreement reached in the autumn of 1995 was not very different from the agreement reached in March 1992 by the three ethnic groups under European Community auspices, which could have prevented the entire civil war, if it had not been sabotaged by Izetbegovic, who withdrew his agreement with the encouragement of the then U.S. ambassador Warren Zimmermann. In short, far from being the great peacemaker in the Balkans, the United States first encouraged the Muslim side to fight for its goal of a centralized Bosnia, and then sponsored a weakened federated Bosnia


  3. Don Bacon says:

    The “brilliant folks of Foggy Bottom” where the motto is “Diplomacy in Action” are not longer diplomats, in war zones, they are civilian components of the Empire — nation-builders. The Pentagon didn’t have anyone to rebuild a country after they destroy it so the State Department will now fill that roll.
    It’s Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”, the introduction of American


  4. Warren Metzler says:

    I served in Vietnam. The so-called South Vietnamese military, ARVN, was a joke. And what was also present in that country? A totally corrupt government. And there were no major ethnic factions that didn’t like each other, and were willing to kill each other.
    It is patently obvious that Afghanistan has several major ethnic factions, who don’t assume they have any relationship with each other. Until you have a civilian leader who unites those factions, who gets most of the population in each faction to perceive that they are all united as a nation, who see themselves more as Afghan than as Pashtun (as an example), it will be literally impossible for any government of that country to be effective.
    Can not the brilliant folks of Foggy Bottom see this? They have 200 plus years of history of closely observing many a country. Do they not have any sense of what is necessary for a country to arise to mature consciousness and behavior.
    It appears to me that communism, with periods of major violence, was necessary to bring most of the citizens of many a country, Russia and China for example, into a consciousness where the average citizen perceived herself as a individual who had the right to become what she herself perceived was her destiny; arising from a consciousness of a slave that spent her whole life living in a context set up by the local lord. Is it not possible that a country like Afghanistan, as possibly is true of Iran, needs an draconian Islamic government to accomplish the same end point? If this is so, wouldn’t the US presence in Afghanistan be specifically hindering that very path? Could our presence be the major problem over there?


  5. erichwwk says:

    I hope I am not being disrespectful to a recently departed, especially one that Steve has made clear is a dear friend. But purporting to represent me I perceive as grounds for shortening the time one should remain silent.
    Commenters here have already expressed the various faces of Richard Holbrooke. One of the least complimentary is this post at counterpunch:
    Question of the Day
    Holbrooke or Milosevic: Who is the Greater Murderer?
    I wonder how Steve would respond, where he to be asked this in one of his many interviews? Or has he been asked this question? If so what was the response?


  6. Kathleen says:

    Watched a great interview with Holbrooke over at Cspan with Christiane Amanpour. Christiane was a bit obnoxious…would never let him finish. Would the medical care have been different for Cheney?
    The War of Ideas in the Middle East
    Secret House resolution says No to Palestinian statehood
    The US Campaign to End the Occupation is pushing urgent action to condemn an Israel lobby resolution circulating in the House to block international efforts to recognize a Palestinian state. From the US Campaign:
    We are outraged to learn that Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is trying to push through Congress today a resolution


  7. Don Bacon says:

    Arun, I really don’t care a whole lot what the Afghans want. Let them decide what they want. It’s not in our best interests to give 200 nations in the world what they want.
    We do know that what they want is peace. Who doesn’t? And the current change to a stepped-up combat level is increasing anti-US feeling. According to a recent poll, only 43% of Afghans now express a favorable opinion of the United States and 27% of Afghans said attacks against American forces could be justified.
    Given the circumstances, that the US is in the middle of an India-Pakistan squabble, as well as many other reasons, it’s best for the US to leave.


  8. Arun says:

    E.g., Wikileaks
    The cable refers to Afghan support for Baloch separatists.
    “Having outlined Pakistan


  9. Arun says:

    Don Bacon,
    What is notably absent in these “Pakistan’s position is promoted by the growing influence of India” discussions is – WHAT IS IT THAT THE AFGHANS WANT?
    Sorry for capitalizing it, but if Karzai & co, and in general Afghans want Indian consulates and Indian aid and Indian reconstruction assistance, it doesn’t matter what Pakistan wants or doesn’t want, and there is no way for the US to force the issue.


  10. Arun says:

    Hi Steve,
    I thought you had a great conversation with Brian Lehrer this morning. I sat in the parking lot until the interview was over.
    A couple of questions:
    1. I’ve been told that US diplomats asked Kiyani what it would take to get Pakistan to strike at the militants on its side of the border, specifically the Haqqani group; e.g., would expulsion of Indian officials from Afghanistan do the trick. I’m told that Pakistan did not give any even theoretical conditions under which they would abandon the Taliban.
    2. I’ve been hoping that Wikileaks would shed some insight into a frequent Pakistani allegation – that Indian presence in Afghanistan is used to bolster Baloch separatists. So far, nothing has appeared. Do you have any insight into Indian support for Baloch separatists in Pakistan {Please note, IMO, Baloch separatism would hit not only Pakistan, but also Iran.}


  11. Don Bacon says:

    The “grim intelligence estimates” include the continuing bad news of Pakistan’s support of the Taliban. A US-financed “partner” is supporting a US enemy. Good golly!
    What isn’t covered well in the news reports is that Pakistan’s position is promoted by the growing influence of India, Pakistan’s arch-enemy, in Afghanistan.
    General Mchrystal’s Assessment, Aug 30, 2009:
    “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely bemnefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.”
    This was an area that Holbrooke, for all his strengths, apparently neglected.
    from a wikileaks cable, Jan 2010:
    “Holbrooke assured [India FM] Rao that he is in favor of Indian assistance programs in Afghanistan and is not influenced by what he hears in Islamabad.”
    So now we have “grim intelligence estimates” of a US partner supporting the killing and injuring of US troops because the US refuses to recognize a basic factor promoting the resistance to US efforts.
    In any case AfPak is costing over two billion a week, seemingly forever, and there’s a lot of money being made so — be happy! Obama seems to be satisfied and it looks like there’ll be no major changes.


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