Thursday, September 17, 2009

Memo to Bill Moyers

FROM: Mort Persky

Dear Bill-- I learned some worthwhile things from your Nancy Youssef interview, but was troubled by most of what I heard. Aren't two of the most important things Ms. Youssef said at irreconcilable odds with virtually everything she says about the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, especially the war?
These are the two things I'm talking about:
1. She said Gen. McChrystle wants and needs more time to get it right, and that it would be a good thing if he gets that time. How much time? Years? Months? And more importantly, to do what, to achieve what? As far as I can tell, she doesn't know, nor does anyone else.
2. She said it was good news that the U.S. seemed on the verge of "committing itself" to the war. Can it be good to commit ourselves to a war that fits her description of it?
She describes a war and a country in which we aren't sure what we're doing or need to do, don't know who the enemy is even when we see him (or think we see him), a country so big and uncontrollable it resists any strategy we can execute or envision now (or with "more time"?) a country filled with people who want desperately to be left alone by us and the Taliban, who will never leave because it's their country and "they own it.".
Under these circumstances, how can it be good news that Gen. McChrystle might have "more time to get it right" or that our country would commit itself to doing the job? What job? Ms. Youssef either doesn't know or can't say, and she's hardly alone.
"We wanted that war to be relevant," she says, "and that's an important goal." Is that what we've got a "too small" contingent of 100,000 coalition troops fighting for -- the goal of being relevant when nobody knows what that means, much less what it requires of us?

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