PBS Frontline - Obama's War (October 13 2009)
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PBS Frontline - Obama's War (October 13 2009)
Tens of thousands of fresh American troops are now on the move in Afghanistan, led by a new commander and armed with a counterinsurgency plan that builds on the lessons of Iraq. But can U.S. forces succeed in a land long known as the "graveyard of empires"? And can the U.S. stop the Taliban in neighboring Pakistan, where U.S. troops are not allowed and the government is weak?
In Obama's War, veteran correspondent Martin Smith travels across Afghanistan and Pakistan to see first-hand how the president's new strategy is taking shape, delivering vivid, on-the-ground reporting from this eight-year-old war's many fronts. Through interviews with top generals, diplomats and government officials, Smith also reports the internal debates over President Obama's grand attempt to combat terrorism at its roots.
"What we found on the ground was a huge exercise in nation building," says Smith. "The concept's become a bit of a dirty word, but that's what this is. We started with the goal of eliminating Al Qaeda, and now we've wound up with the immense task of re-engineering two nations."
The brunt of the work is falling on rank-and-file soldiers, and nowhere is it more difficult than in the dusty, unforgiving landscape of Helmand province, the Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, where FRONTLINE embedded with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. Since the Marines' arrival in July, Helmand has become the most lethal battlefield in Afghanistan. But FRONTLINE found the Marines trying to act as armed diplomats, attempting to build the necessary trust for badly needed economic development.
"It's trying to change the culture of the organization," Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, tells FRONTLINE of the administration's plan. "At the end of the day, our best counterinsurgents are going to be young sergeants who just have an ability to deal with people. We've got to give them the flexibility to make decisions."
Even as American soldiers struggle to make progress in Afghanistan village by village, equally vexing challenges remain across the border in Pakistan. "In Afghanistan we know what to do; we just don't know if we have the resources or the time available to do it," David Kilcullen, a leading counterinsurgency expert, tells FRONTLINE. "The problem in Pakistan is we're not really sure what to do."
When FRONTLINE confronts the Pakistani army about its reluctance to take out key Taliban leaders, the military's chief spokesman, Gen. Athar Abbas, argues that the accusations are misplaced. There is no truth, he claims, that insurgents stage attacks on American forces from the Pakistani side of the border. "They operate from Afghanistan. If somebody claims that everything is happening from this side of the border, I am sorry, this is misplaced, and we refute it."
Barred from sending troops across the border, the United States is left with few good options. No quick fix will solve Pakistan. "If we have a strategy in Pakistan," says George Packer, a staff writer at The New Yorker, "it's to build up the civilian government to the point where it can be a kind of counterbalance to the military and begin to reorient their own sense of their destiny. Is that even thinkable for a foreign power to do? Even as I say it, I think, why do we think we could even begin to accomplish that?"
hehe obama's war
anyone else find it funny how he's completely a war president yet gets a nobel PEACE prize?!
Oct 15 2009, 09:42 UTC
The idea that a head of imperial state presiding over
[url=http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/09/03/afghanistan/]the grotesque, weapons-of-mass-destruction-producing and mass-murdering apparatus that is the expansive American military establishment, American imperial power-structure and the National Security State[/url] should even be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize is of course ludicrous and frankly, moronic.
But then again, we're talking about European elites here. Europeans, and especially the elite spectrum, aren't going to be at the receiving end of American and Israeli "smart-bombs", drones, and missiles. Thus they have the luxury of being fucking imbeciles and thinking of the American state as some benign, benevolent entity, especially with that smooth-talker, "articulate", "handsome" Obama. I've always thought Obama, with his melifluous, sweet-sounding rhetoric signifying nothing was far more dangerous than people like Bush and Cheney, who represent the true ugly, vicious, Machiavellian face of the American Empire. With Bush and Cheney, it was difficult for even the heavily biased, Western mass-media, which until recently, dominated the global media, to put lipstick on the pig of American imperialism. I mean it's hard to put spin on a clear war of aggression against Iraq that was based on the most flimsiest of excuses and outright lies, on a brutal torture program, on the CIA rendition and black prison program, on America shipping missiles and bombs for Israel to help slaughter Lebanese and Palestinian civilians, especially Israel's most recent purposeful terror campaign against and barbaric slaughter of Palestinians civilians.
Obama on the other hand is a godsend for the American elites: he provides cover and good PR for the vicious, racist, mass-murdering American imperial power-structure.
As Chomsky said in one of his talks, European elites would love nothing better than to lick America's boots. Obama gives them the perfect excuse to do so. The only problem they had with Bush was his Yankee, cowboy attitude, his non wordly-ways, not necessarily with his policies.
Europe and America are all part of the West after all, and the West is in the business of fucking over brown people and the 3rd world. They've been doing it for the last 500 years. The disagreements Europe has with America boil down to different mafia factions quarreling over territory. For example, France's objections to America invading Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with concern for the Iraqi people themselves but rather because French oil companies, among others, had a presence in Iraq and were making money and getting a piece of the pie. America wanted to kick Russian and French oil companies out and get a share of the loot, especially because as Chomsky has iterated many times, the vast oil reserves in the Middle-East are a source of great wealth if your country's oil companies can get into the action. Unfortunately, Saddam had turned against his former patrons, the Americans, and so he had to be "taken care of" so that American oil companies could their hands on that sweet, sweet oil pie.
That's international relations for you: nothing but a mafia enterprise motivated by desire for wealth, power, and where brute force and raw power dominate. That programs like PBS Frontline and the rest of the Western propaganda outlets mask over this fundamental truth and reality shows just how little they should be trusted for any real analysis and actual truth.
Oct 15 2009, 17:05 UTC
brother TEMPTATION i hear you
Oct 16 2009, 00:49 UTC
I love comments that are more than one liners.
TEMPTATION, Thanks mate.
One can often read arguments about military strategies needing this or that to be successful... Is it not seem obvious that success is in the prolongation of military actions, unresolved, continuous, costly to the many, supremely profitable for the few.
i have little doubt that Obama will be as successful as Bush was in warring on the vulnerable. To paraphrase Arundhati Roy "ivory snow and tide" both made from the same big corporation (proctor and gamble). (I probably have the name brands wrong). and (no pun intended in using ivory snow as an analogy to obama). Seems like the European elite prefers the softer touch when it comes to mass murder.
Oct 16 2009, 16:40 UTC