NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY

US Media and Afghan War


Reese Erlich: Military downplaying biggest surge of the war -   October 15, 2010
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



I support The Real News Network because it cured my vertigo from all the spinning by Fox and MSNBC. - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

Transcript

US Media and Afghan WarPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. In Afghanistan, one of the biggest campaigns run by the American military is taking place around Kandahar. You wouldn't know it if you rely on American media to follow the story. Now joining us from Oakland, California, to talk about US media coverage of the Afghan war is Reese Erlich. He's the author of the book Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire, just published, and he's on a national speaking tour. You can find out more about that at ReeseErlich.com. Thanks for joining us, Reese.

REESE ERLICH, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Thank you so much, Paul.

JAY: What do you know in terms of what's going on with the campaign? And then, what do you make of the media coverage?

ERLICH: Well, the US was planning a major surge or campaign in Kandahar for many months now, and they delayed it in the spring. They now have leaked sign—indications of it to the media. But I think one of the reasons we're not getting a lot of coverage of it is because it's not going so well. The US is trying to secure the rural areas immediately outside the city of Kandahar and doing whatever they can inside Kandahar. And waging a counterinsurgency war means that you're winning—or at least attempting to win over the local people politically. But the Taliban—this was the stronghold of the Taliban for many years, going back to its founding in the 1990s, and the US and the Karzai government do not have a very good reputation. So, one, when you wage a counterinsurgency war, you end up killing a lot of civilians. And two, the people who you bring in to run the local police, the local administrators, are corrupt, and in many cases drug dealers who are using the government offices for their own economic benefit. And so, as bad as the Taliban is—and they are genuinely hated in Afghanistan—the Karzai government and the US are seen as even worse.

JAY: In terms of the media coverage, we had seen in the earlier battles tons of media, lots of press releases, embedded journalists. Not so in this campaign. There's some reporting, but certainly nothing on the scale of Marja.

ERLICH: Yeah, I think they learned from Marja, which is that they did this big publicity campaign. It turned out to be—including just lying about it. They claimed that Marja was a major urban stronghold of 30,000 people, which was just an outright lie. It's a collection of small towns numbering in the hundreds. So they couldn't even get the basic facts like that straight. Kandahar is going to be a much more difficult situation. They're hoping, I suspect, to win some victories, or claim to be able to have won some victories, and then announce it to the press.

JAY: Now, 60 Minutes did do a piece which put a pretty gloomy picture on the campaign. Here's a little clip from what 60 Minutes did a couple of weeks ago.

~~~

LARA LOGAN, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, CBS NEWS: Is it your sense that you're winning here?

CAPT. JOHN HINTZ, US ARMY, 101ST AIRBORNE: I think we're winning. I think we're winning.

LOGAN: You don't look convinced.

HINTZ: I'm not 100 percent convinced. I mean, but you can't look at it like we're losing. I'm not going to come here and lose. So do I think we've gained ground? Yes. Is it enough ground? No. I would like to say that if I—given another six months here, I could bring in the next village, the next two villages, and bring them to my side.

LOGAN: But you can't.

HINTZ: I can't. I'll never give up on it. But at times I wonder, if I walk out of here tomorrow, where is this place at?

LOGAN: Where do you think?

HINTZ: Well, it's lost.

~~~

JAY: So what did you make of the 60 Minutes piece, Reese?

ERLICH: It was surprising, in that part of the broadcast was fairly honest about how difficult the situation the US military faces. 60 Minutes and all of the mainstream media had been big-time supporters and cheerleaders for the war effort, certainly in the beginning, that we were going to bring democracy and economic development. And it turns out you can't wage a war, a counterinsurgency, an occupation, without alienating the people. And there was a scene where they'd go out to this village that they had supposedly been contacted to help them build some infrastructure project, and they get out there and it's clearly—the villagers don't want to have anything to do with the US. And sure enough, the US soldiers are attacked on the way out. And I suspect that those kinds of confrontations are happening more and more because the US war effort is so unpopular among ordinary Afghans right now.

JAY: Now, the other development last week was the—several attacks on US-NATO supply tankers bringing fuel to the Afghan situation as they went through Pakistan, both attacks by Taliban fighters and also a dispute with the Pakistan government itself, which seemed to close down some of the supply.

ERLICH: Well, Americans are unaware of it, but the US is waging a war in Pakistan, supposedly our ally. There are acknowledged 250 US troops in plainclothes inside Pakistan. There is an undisclosed number of private security contractors loading the drones that are being used to attack. It's admitted that the drone attacks against supposed terrorist targets in Pakistan have increased many, many times. And the most recent incident was a US or NATO helicopter flew into Pakistan and shot up a Pakistani military post and killed three soldiers and wounded others. The Pakistanis understandably are a little ticked off at the idea that they're, in their own country, being attacked by their supposed allies. So the Pakistanis are showing that they have some skin in the game, if you will, and they've closed down the border and backed up all the supply trucks that include fuel and tanks and other military equipment. And I'm sure they've contacted their allies among the conservative forces there, the Taliban and others, and said, we're going to look the other way if you attack. And sure enough, there have been—dozens of trucks have been set on fire, some people have been killed. It's a real mess.

JAY: The piece of this which I find hard to understand is, if there was ever an opportunity for the US to try to get some public opinion in Pakistan on their side, it's the floods. And, you know, with a massive US effort to help on the flooding, you'd think they would have bought a little bit of cooperation, at least amongst Pakistani people. But it seems so modest, so limited what the US is doing to help what the UN has called the worst natural disaster they've ever seen.

ERLICH: Yeah, if this was any other country other than Pakistan, you would see massive daily coverage of movie stars going over to help the poor Pakistanis, and US planes unloading supplies, etc. But because of the political differences right now between the US and Pakistan, the US is not contributing that big of an aid effort. I just read Iran is going to donate $100 million worth of aid to Pakistan, and that's a lot of money for Iran, and proportionately a lot more than the US is donating. The basic problem is is that Pakistan is supposed to be a US ally, but they have very different interests than that of the United States. They want to see a pro-Pakistani government emerge out of the chaos in Afghanistan once the US troops leave. The US wants to see a pro-US (and by implication a pro-Indian) government, and the Pakistanis are playing games behind the scenes to make sure that some of the insurgent groups that they help and they finance and they support will come to power to eliminate the influence of the Indians, which has grown under the US occupation.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.

ERLICH: Thank you.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network. Tell us again your website where people can find you.

ERLICH: It's ReeseErlich.com. I'm coming to a city near you. Check out the webpage for the details of what cities I'll be visiting.

JAY: Cool. Thanks. And thank you again for joining us on The Real News Network.

End of Transcript

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


More Info

US Media and Afghan War
Reese Erlich: We’re not getting coverage because it’s not going well

Oct. 15 - TRNN The US military is fighting more than just the Taliban in it’s current counterinsurgency campaign in Kandahar, said journalist and author of Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, Reese Erlich. In an interview with The Real News, Erlich said the US military is receiving resistance from the local people as well as supposed ally, the Pakistani government.

He said waging a counterinsurgency requires the political support of the local people, but civilian casualties, and corruption within those positioned to replace Taliban authorities, have turned the public in Kandahar against the American military.

“It turns out you can't wage a war, a counterinsurgency, an occupation, without alienating the people,” said Erlich. “One, when you wage a counterinsurgency war, you end up killing a lot of civilians. And two, the people who you bring in to run the local police, the local administrators, are corrupt, and in many cases drug dealers who are using the government offices for their own economic benefit. And so, as bad as the Taliban is—and they are genuinely hated in Afghanistan—the Karzai government and the US are seen as even worse.”

Erlich told TRNN that Pakistan has closed their border to slow American supply trucks headed for Kandahar in retaliation to American assaults aimed at Taliban in the country.

“Americans are unaware of it, but the US is waging a war in Pakistan, supposedly our ally. There are acknowledged 250 US troops in plainclothes inside Pakistan. There is an undisclosed number of private security contractors loading the drones that are being used to attack. It's admitted that the drone attacks against supposed terrorist targets in Pakistan have increased many, many times. And the most recent incident was a US or NATO helicopter flew into Pakistan and shot up a Pakistani military post and killed three soldiers and wounded others.”

Last week the Taliban attacked US-NATO fuel supply tankers as they crossed through Pakistan. Erlich said the lack of support from Pakistan’s government is likely causing more damage than just delaying reinforcements.

“And I'm sure they've contacted their allies among the conservative forces [in Pakistan], the Taliban and others, and said, we're going to look the other way if you attack. And sure enough, there have been—dozens of trucks have been set on fire, some people have been killed. It's a real mess.”

Senior Editor of The Real New, Paul Jay, said the US could procure favour by sending aid to the flood-devastated regions of Pakistan.

“Yeah, if this was any other country, other than Pakistan, you would see massive daily coverage of movie stars going over to help the poor Pakistanis, and US planes unloading supplies, etc. But because of the political differences right now between the US and Pakistan, the US is not contributing that big of an aid effort.”

Erlich said that when the US leaves Afghanistan, it intends to leave a pro-US government behind, which would benefit India. He said Pakistan is currently doing what it can “to make sure that some of the insurgent groups that they help, and they finance, and they support will come to power to eliminate the influence of the Indians, which has grown under the US occupation.”

Media coverage of this insurgency has been much more sparse than in the past. Erlich said this is likely because US military knows how difficult this campaign will be.

“I think one of the reasons we're not getting a lot of coverage of it is because it's not going so well,” he said. “Kandahar is going to be a much more difficult situation. They're hoping, I suspect, to win some victories, or claim to be able to have won some victories, and then announce it to the press.”

                                               -30-

To view/read full interview - US Media and Afghan War

Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

Comments


Latest Stories


One Baltimore Neighborhood Proves Police Alone Aren't the Answer
The Politics of Fear Ahead of Greek Referendum
Puerto Rico's Debt Is Not Financial, It's Colonial: The Political Imprisonment of Oscar Lopez Rivera
Survivor of Israeli Attack on USS Liberty: It Could Not Have Been a Mistake (2/2)
TRNN Replay: The Roots of the Greek Crisis
Why BP's $18.7 Billion Gulf Spill Settlement Falls Short
Puerto Rico on the Brink of Financial Collapse
The Birth of Patrice Lumumba and the Assassination of a Free Africa
Greek Referendum a Necessary Step into Uncharted Waters
North Korea's "Hate America Month"?
Plundering Our Freedom with Abandon - Robert Scheer on Reality Asserts Itself (9/10)
SCOTUS Case Could Bring "Right to Work" to All 50 States
Turkey Planning Next Move After ISIS Commits Massacre in Kobani
Survivor of Israeli Attack on USS Liberty: It Could Not Have Been a Mistake (1/2)
No Labor Protections in Obama's Overtime Plan
Ida B. Wells and Lessons to Learn from South Carolina
US Hedge Funds Get Bailed Out If Greeks Pass Bailout Referendum (1/2)
Iran Deal Still Possible Despite Passing of Deadline (1/2)
Plundering Our Freedom with Abandon - Robert Scheer on Reality Asserts Itself (8/10)
How China's Infrastructure Bank Threatens U.S. Hegemony
Like Grandfather, Like Grandson: The Life and Death of Malcolm Latif Shabazz
Will the Greek Referendum Bring the Troika Back to the Bargaining Table? (1/2)
Why Chicago Won't Go Bankrupt - And Detroit Didn't Have To
Plundering Our Freedom with Abandon - Robert Scheer on Reality Asserts Itself (7/10)
Why Are Indians Eating Less If Incomes are Growing?
Pope Francis vs Climate Change
Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley
TRNN on Greece
Can the United Nations Stop War?
TRNN REPLAY: The 50th Anniversary of the First US Offensive in Vietnam

RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting