Friday, October 16, 2009
Neither A nor F Friday
So here are a few of the things I’ve been reading on Afghanistan lately. A few of the titles pretty much say it all, though you should certainly—as we say on blogs—read the whole things.
Paul Rogers, “AfPak: The Unwinnable War,” openDemocracy
A. J. Rossmiller, “Stalemate,” The New Republic
Todd Gitlin, “Getting Out of Afghanistan,” Dissent
William R. Polk, “Open Letter to President Obama,” The Nation
A few older items, a bit more equivocal:
Stephen Biddle, “Is It Worth It?”, The American Interest
Conor Foley, “Afghanistan,” Crooked Timber
And from last week, a truly edifying reading experience, Scott Horton’s interview with Medea Benjamin, “Is Medea Benjamin Naive or Just Confused?”, Antiwar.com.
No, it’s not edifying because Medea Benjamin is naive or confused. On the contrary, Ms. Benjamin is knowledgeable and clearheaded, really quite wonderful throughout. It’s edifying because Horton (shorter Horton: “c’mon, Medea, the Christian Scientist Monitor totally lied, right? you don’t care about Afghan women any more than I do, right?”) pursues a line of questioning that leads to this climactic moment:
Benjamin: But you do have the Taliban in Afghanistan and you have…
Horton: Yeah, but what did the Taliban ever do?
Benjamin: Well the Taliban…
Horton: To us.
Best. Huh. Ever. For the record, I think the proper form of this world-historically stupid question is “what has the Taliban done to us lately.” Anyway, Benjamin quickly rallies, and proceeds to try to educate Horton about this “Taliban.”
Benjamin: Well see, if your perspective is just from the United States. My perspective is also from what they did to the women of Afghanistan. But if your perspective is truly from the United States, what people say is that if we allow the Taliban to take over Afghanistan then that will be a safe haven for Al Qaeda.
Horton: Yeah, but that’s no different is it than the National Review saying, you know, Saddam Hussein was really bad to the people in Iraq.
Like I say, truly edifying. Finally, the al-Qaeda/ Iraq link we’ve all been waiting for!
OK, so I’ll be talking at Northwestern today and tomorrow. Feel free to map out a plausible and humane Afghanistan exit strategy in comments, and I’ll pass the thread along to Obama and McChrystal when we’re all done. Oh, and don’t forget to stabilize Pakistan! Extra extra bonus points for keeping the baying neocons marginalized on Iran. Thanks.