September 11, 2009
Recent events have returned Americans' attention to their eight-year war in Afghanistan. Reports of a deteriorating political situation
, increasing military and civilian casualties, and accusations of fraud
in the re-election of President Hamid Karzai have some wondering about the state of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. They are not alone. The death of a British soldier during the rescue of NEW YORK TIMES reporter and the international furor over casualties from a bombing raid requested
by German forces has those governments on the defensive about their Afghan operations. In addition, under pressure from member countries
, NATO has asked the United Nations for new timelines for withdrawal.
In August, General Stanley McChrystal delivered
a classified report to the White House that many believe sets the stage for a further expansion of the war. McClatchy News Service reported
that some top Pentagon officials fear that further escalation will be in vain without a clear definition of our mission there.
To get a reality check, Bill Moyers interviews Nancy Youssef, McClatchy's chief Pentagon correspondent. Youssef, who recently returned from Afghanistan, explains that the war has morphed continuously, to the point that it feels like a succession of separate conflicts: "We talk about Afghanistan as an eight year war. But the truth is, it's been eight separate, individual years of war."
All this leaves U.S. and NATO soldiers with a host of ambiguous choices. Youssef says they are faced with questions like should they "train the soldiers to serve a corrupt government that we're not sure we can put faith in? Stabilize a country against the Taliban that some residents are comfortable or at least accept in their communities?"
Youssef perceives a disconnect between what both Presidents Bush and Obama have called a "war of necessity" and the way the war has been handled thus far: "What's happening now in Washington and all these assessments we're trying to answer very basic questions: 'What is the goal? What is the strategy? How do you implement the strategy?' So, even though we call it a war of necessity, I don't think it's ever been treated as a war of necessity, even now. That debate is just starting, in year eight of the war. It's extraordinary."
Nancy Youssef, McClatchy's chief Pentagon correspondent, spent the past four years covering the Iraq war, most recently as Baghdad bureau chief. Her pieces focused on the everyday Iraqi experience, civilian causalities and how the U.S.'s military strategy was reshaping Iraq's social and political dynamics.
She joined the Washington Bureau in August 2005. Before that, she was a reporter for the DETROIT FREE PRESS, covering legal issues. While at the FREE PRESS, she traveled throughout Jordan and Iraq for Knight Ridder, covering the Iraq war from the time leading up to it through the post-war period. She began her journalism career at the BALTIMORE SUN.
She has won several awards for her work including from Maryland-D.C. Delaware Press Association and the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. A Washington, D.C.-area native, she earned a bachelor's degree in economics from University of Virginia and began her post-graduate studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Her parents are from Egypt, and she has been visiting the region all of her life.
Guest photo by Robin Holland.
Shahan Mufti and Juan Cole
As the world follows the violence and unrest in Pakistan, Bill Moyers speaks with historian Juan Cole and journalist Shahan Mufti about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, how it relates to the war in Afghanistan, and why they think Pakistan is not likely to become a failed state anytime soon. (May 15, 2009)
Bill Moyers sits down with historian Marilyn Young and former Pentagon official Pierre Sprey, to discuss the use of aerial bombing, including drones, in warfare. (January 30, 2009)
As a new administration is set to take over in the White House, Bill Moyers checks in with author Sarah Chayes on the state of affairs in America's other war in Afghanistan. An author and former journalist, Chayes has lived the last seven years in Afghanistan helping to rebuild the country. (December 19, 2008)
Foreign Policy and the New President
What will President-elect Obama's promises of change mean for the Middle East? JOURNAL guest host Deborah Amos sits down with Elizabeth Rubin, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Slate magazine columnist Fred Kaplan. (November 14, 2008)
Pakistan in Peril
Bill Moyers on the unrest in the streets of America's ally. (November 9, 2007)
Journalist Christian Parenti, back from his fourth visit to the forgotten frontline, speaks to Moyers about the growing influence of warlords in government and the resurgence of the Taliban. (June 8, 2007)
The War Briefing
FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria and correspondent Martin Smith offer harrowing on-the-ground reporting from the deadliest battlefield in the mountains of Afghanistan, and follow the trail to the militant safe havens deep inside the Pakistani tribal areas, probing some of the most urgent foreign policy challenges facing the next president. (October 28, 2008)
"General: Afghan Situation 'Serious'"
By Ann Scott Tyson, THE WASHINGTON POST, September 1, 2009.
"Fake Afghan Poll Sites Favored Karzai, Officials Assert"
By Dexter Filkins and Carlotta Gal, NEW YORK TIMES, September 6, 2009.
"Eight years after 9/11, Taliban roils 80 percent of Afghanistan"
By Aunohita Mojumdar, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, September 11, 2009.
"Karzai in His Labyrinth"
By Elizabeth Rubin, THE NEW YORK TIMES, August 4, 2009.
TIMES TOPICS: Afghanistan
Complete coverage of Afghanistan in the NEW YORK TIMES.
"From insurgency to insurrection"
THE ECONOMIST, August 20, 2009.
NATO and Europe
"Britain, France and Germany urge Afghan pullout plan"
By Philip Webster and Michael Evans, THE AUSTRALIAN, September 11, 2009.
"German colonel 'overstepped authority' in deadly Afghan air strike "
By Ben Farmer, THE TELEGRAPH, September 10, 2009.
"Government gives up hope of more European Nato help in Afghanistan"
By Sean Rayment, THE TELEGRAPH, September 5, 2009.
More stories from Nancy Youssef at McClatchy DC
"Military leery of Afghanistan escalation with no clear goals"
By Nancy A. Youssef, Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS, September 7, 2009.