when the dust clears

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The Takeaway and Washington’s conventional wisdom factory

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Below is a copy of a letter to the editor I wrote to the NPR morning program The Takeaway after listening to a recent segment about the Afghanistan war.

Good morning.

I found The Takeaway story broadcast this morning, 6/23/11, about the political/military situation in Afghanistan to be particularly unbalanced. Guest Peter Mansoor presented his case for continued, even deeper, US military involvement in that country and characterized President’s Obama’s decision to draw down troops as “political.” Takeaway offered no counterweight to these opinions. May I suggest potential interviewees with equally stellar credentials who might present a different point of view:

Jonathan Stevenson, Naval War College, author of the May 2011 Harper’s magazine piece “Owned By the Army: Has the President Lost Control of His Generals?”; Michael Sheehan, former State Dept. senior adviser on counterterrorism, NSC member under Clinton and Bush, former Green Beret, and author of Crush the Cell who advocates a spec ops-driven approach in Afghanistan, not a troop-heavy, nation-building endeavor; and C. Christine Fair, Georgetown prof. and former RAND senior political scientist RAND analyst—an actual Afghanistan expert—who has called for a variant of Joe Biden’s “Counterterrorism Plus” approach.

My politics are to the left of these folks, but I trust them because they back up their statements with empirical evidence. They do not spin and sling mud as Colonel Mansoor (ret.) did this morning. Please consider them as guests for your next Afghanistan segment in which you feature a pro-counterinsurgency, pro-nation-building guest.



We need more debate about Afghanistan, not less, given the dire political, military, economic, and humanitarian state of affairs in that country after a decade of war. Such debate thrives on the web, but not in terrestrial news media. Public radio and TV should be filling the void—and not just with former generals and colonels and current axe-grinding think tankers.


Written by bxpnyc

2011/07/06 at 07:21

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