Tag Archives: Pakistan

Are Afghanistan Leaks on Purpose?

President Barack Obama has been given, if published reports are true, four ways forward to deal with his most vexing foreign policy problem, Afghanistan. He’s chosen none, not even the one most thought he would, a surge of about 40,000 new troops. That’s the one promoted by the chief military commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal. We know this because his recommendation was leaked to the Washington Post.

Now comes word that the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, has a different view.

Karl Eikenberry
Karl Eikenberry

He’s nervous about sending thousands of US troops into harm’s way on behalf of a government many see as hopelessly corrupt and marginally competent. That would be the administration of Hamid Karzai, who will be inaugurated for a second term shortly. Of course, we know this because two cables from Ambassador Eikenberry to President Obama were leaked to (guess who?) the Washington Post.

At the root of all this is Karzai’s reported anger at US pressure to acknowledge his first round majority in the last election was fraudulent. Now that Eikenberry’s sentiments have been made public, expect the Afghan president’s position to harden as well. This begs the question, however, who’s doing all this leaking? Trying to figure this out had become a parlor game in DC. In the case of Gen. McChrystal, speculation centered on hawks in the Pentagon.

If President Obama was to make good on his pledge to follow the dictates of the military on the ground, leaking McChrystal’s report made perfect sense. But who leaked the Eikenberry cables, which some now say may have played a role in Obama’s decision not to accept any of the four options he was given? There’s been some speculation the leak may have come directly from the White House, from the President’s inner circle. That would be without the President’s knowledge, I think. It’s happened before, in the recent past.

On Thursday President Obama told soldiers at an Alaskan Air Force base that any troops sent in harms way will have a clear strategy and mission. But there’s still the thorny question of mission and strategy in Afghanistan. There seems to be a consensus that simply bringing the troops home is not an option. That, the thinking goes, would leave Karzai’s ill equipped military to the tender mercies of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. It might also create huge problems for Afghanistan’s neighbor and nominal US ally Pakistan. Yet there is still that desire to end US involvement in this almost nine year conflict, and bring the country’s fighting men and women home. That’s what a growing number of Americans want.

That would mean admitting there is no clear and definable mission for the US in Afghanistan. It would also be a political firestorm for President Obama. But in the end it would save American lives, lives that could well be lost in pursuit of an unattainable goal.

What to do about Afghanistan? That’s way above my pay grade. And what about the leaks? You tell me.

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Who's King of Media? Here are my top choices…

Media coverage of national and world events has become a wasteland, with talking and shouting heads spouting a great deal of hot air. That’s why it becomes important to recognize radio and television broadcasts that bring new and different perspectives to media consumers. So many people tell me they have no idea who is telling them the truth, and who is pulling their leg.

There is one television program that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Bill Moyers Journal represents many things to many people. To some, Moyers’ style is boring and his program doesn’t contain enough bells and whistles. To the right wing, he’s a clear and present danger, spouting socialist ideas on TV stations paid for with public money.

To me, Bill Moyers is an oasis in a media desert. His show airs here in New York and Friday and Sunday nights on the local PBS station. To anyone wanting serious journalism and commentary, he is must see tv. He took on the weighty issue of Pakistan in this week’s program. Historian Juan Cole and journalist Shahan Mufti made me look at the situation in the region in a whole new way.

Maybe that’s why conservatives fear him so much. It can’t be his style. He’s laid back, he doesn’t raise his voice the way so many TV personalities do. He also doesn’t give the impression that if you disagree with him or one of his guests there must be something wrong with you. If you haven’t watched Bill Moyers Journal in awhile, or maybe even never, check it out.

There is very little informed news on the radio these days. Like the cable TV trash talkers, radio is filled with speculators and dimwits masquerading as oracles. Then there’s Free Speech Radio News. It’s a half hour daily newscast aired mostly on non commercial stations across the country. Like Bill Moyers, FSRN tackles issues in a substantive way, giving voice to the voiceless on issues that the mainstream chooses to ignore.

There’s almost never an occasion when, after listening to an FSRN cast, I don’t think to myself, how come nobody else is covering that?

As is the case with Bill Moyers, you don’t have to agree with every conclusion or every voice you hear.

Yet the difference between FSRN and the mainstream is such that you feel your brain has been scrubbed by an eco-friendly cleanser when the half hour is up.

I write about these two programs because I’m constantly surprised how many people who follow news on cable either don’t know about them or don’t consume them regularly.

“Didn’t Bill Moyers retire? Free Speech Radio What?” So I decided to take this first day of the week to spread their gospel.

Have you listened or watched either lately? If not, what are you watching?

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