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Deborah Amos Asks: What is the Measure of Success in Iraq and Afghanistan?

(Photos by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, guest host Deborah Amos spoke with journalist Elizabeth Rubin and author Fred Kaplan about policies the United States might pursue in Afghanistan and throughout the region, and how we can evaluate how much progress occurs.

Amos asked:

“When the Bush administration took on Afghanistan and then Iraq, there was this notion that we were involved in a democracy-building operation. And then there was talk even in the campaign about victory, that there would be a way that we would know that it was time to leave, that it was over. Those ideas have really lost currency. Is there a measure of success in these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?”

Rubin said:

“I think the measure of success is when they’re not in the news anymore, when they start to just become countries that are existing on their own... When there’s a certain kind of stability and a country is being built, it’s going to be a lot less newsworthy than when you have Afghans getting killed every day, Americans getting killed everyday... But you’re not going to have one day that’s going to signify the end.”

What do you think?

  • Should the United States remain in Iraq and Afghanistan until they become democracies? If not, at what point of “success” should U.S. forces withdraw?
  • Should democratizing foreign countries be an objective of U.S. foreign policy? If so, how much of a priority should it be?
  • Are all nations capable of democratic governance? Why or why not?


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    Comments

    The first thing you have to do when you create a mess that backs you up against a wall, is to admit the truth. You made a mistake. You were wrong. The intention was not honorable. "oh what a spider's web we weave when we practice to deceive"
    It just makes me furious when I think of the destruction the war in Iraq has caused. As far as I am concerned if the people who hold the strings really wanted to clean up this mess , they would find a way to do it.

    Mumia W.

    Whether the 9/11 Truth movement will continue to grow and gain strength remains to be seen. But the fact remains that there is no evidence against Bin Laden. Tell me, what lunacy are you referring to? Are you really familiar with the work of David Ray Griffin, Peter Dale Scott, Stephen Jones, and Richard Gage?

    I think we lost the country a long time ago. The Constitution is now little more than an artifact.

    You are right we need to recall the troops. But we can't, there's this thing called the Global War On Terror-justified by the myth of 9/11. The 9/11 myth must be exposed and destroyed.

    I don't really know if the American people are intelligent and moral enough to preserve or create a new better Constitution. But I do know that they are lied to constantly. They are basing their judgments off false information. We shouldn't even be having this discussion about Iraq and Afghanistan. If we really understood 9/11 and the military-industrial complex, corporatism, and empire, we wouldn't be there.

    @grama judy, November 22, 2008 1:27 AM,

    I hope that we can help rebuild Afghanistan. We need to make it up to them after what we've done to them; however, our resources will likely be strained for the next several years.

    Additionally, after our troops have left Afghanistan, the Taliban will be in control, and any Americans who go there will have to conform to Taliban law. The Taliban may not allow us in at all, or they may allow us in only after conversion, and they might choose to "convert" us by putting swords to our necks and asking "do you accept the fundamental tenants of Islam?"

    In any case, our ability to rebuild Afghanistan will be restricted by the Taliban's willingness to trust us and Americans' willingness to live under Taliban rule--fun isn't it? However, this indeed is a way to, over time, undermine militant Islam. Once our troops leave, the insurgency will be over, and we might be able to win friends using honey (rather than vinegar).

    However, I need to say that ending the killing of innocent civilians and ending the torment of our troops in Afghanistan are the primary reasons why we should leave.

    @beecham, November 21, 2008 12:21 PM,

    Ah, the "inside job" conspiracy theory--the current lunacy of the hour in America. I hate to see my country flushed down the drain by a corrupt and incompetent government who's actions result in paranoia and distrust of government among the people.

    I am cursed with the obligation of living in "interesting times." At some point soon, our government (AKA "the boy who cried wolf") will need us to trust it, and there will be no trust left, and so it will come to and end.

    And the sad part of this tragedy is that the American people are neither intelligent enough nor moral enough to create a constitution and government as good as the ones we're about to lose. This country has been destroyed.

    I do agree that we should recall our troops from throughout the globe because our economy is collapsing, and we can't afford a global empire. Our remaining resources should be used to preserve the core country lest we become like the Soviet Union--a former country.

    Winning hearts and minds may still be possible by assisting with rebuilding infrastructure, funding education projects and small business help. Something we should have been doing after the initial and misguided invasion of Afganistan. People should feel a sense of empowerment and faith in government being able to provide for them. Then the insurgent "terrorists" elements become marginalized and true democracy can occur.

    Should the United States remain in Iraq and Afghanistan until they become democracies? If not, at what point of “success” should U.S. forces withdraw?

    The best thing the U.S. could do to facilitate any hope of democracy in Iraq would be to military disengage from Iraq, ASAP. Obama MUST, in his first 100 days of office, initiate disengagement and begin removing military troops from Iraq. He should remove all battalions within one year! There is no reason to wait additional years to remove all U.S. troops. The American military presence and occupation of Iraq only exacerbates the deteriorating situation in Iraq, including corruption.

    As far as Afghanistan is concerned, whatever is left of an American military that can actually do some good should be sent to that country. However, a permanent American military presence in Afghanistan only drains the United States national treasury. The U.S. can't afford it. The U.S. has gone completely broke occupying Iraq. I don't understand how it could stay in Afghanistan permanently.

    As far as success, it's beyond that measurement to decide when the U.S. should withdraw militarily. The fact is, the U.S. can no longer afford to stay in Iraq PERIOD! We are a country so deep in debt that it's helped to trigger the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At some point, success is left to those who never asked for the U.S.'s help. Iraq never asked to be invaded or occupied. Success for Iraq is for the U.S. to get the hell out of its country!

    Should democratizing foreign countries be an objective of U.S. foreign policy?

    No, not at all. It is utter hubris for the United States to embark on any "democratizing" of countries. The United States needs to embark on a mantra of "let's get our own house in order" and see what kind of example we can set for other countries to emulate and follow. Right now, the United States is a pitiful excuse for a democracy (aside from Obama's election) and Obama can only regain the United States reputation in the eyes of the world if he removes the American military presence in foreign countries and engages in diplomacy.

    If so, how much of a priority should it be?
    Are all nations capable of democratic governance? Why or why not?

    It should be a very high priority for the United States not to pursue democratization as a political strategy when dealing with other countries. The U.S. must act and behave like a partner to other countries and not act condescendingly towards and tout the notion that democracy is the greatest form of government. It is not. It is up for each individual country to pursue its own path towards self-governance and the U.S. should act as a beacon of democratic inspiration by acting to improve its own house instead of trying to clean up the houses of others!

    No, not all countries are capable of democratic governance. Just take a look at the Arab countries! With the exception of Israel, what Arab country actually functions as a democracy?? Where women are given equal rights to men??

    It's ridiculous. George W. Bush has ruined the world and Obama will spend the rest of his life leading humanity as it desperately tries to salvage and/or save what is left and rebuild a planet torn down by military madness.

    I have to agree with the very first post to this story-that of Sam Thornton.

    Furthermore, I would like to add this;

    As a cultural anthropologist who just happens to be a political scientist as well, I have been asking until I'm blue in the face: Has anyone given any thought to the cultural differences between anyone else and our(the general US culture's)contorted, myopic worldview?

    My rational mind assures me that they cannot when demonization of the "other" is required to sell a war. The only attributes of the "other" that can be allowed public scrutiny in order to serve the powerbrokers are those upon which fear can be developed and nurtured.

    The much maligned Niccolo Machiavelli pointed out, some five centuries ago, that this is one of the most effective ways to insure that the common-folk will agree to such aggressions. Another unfortunate tool that we give far too much power to is that of religion. In my view, organized religions are merely population control devices based on fear. There are belief systems that are exempt from this claim but some would argue their status of belief system vs religion. For me the distinctions are clear.

    One of the crippling shibboleths shared by most Americans is the idea that Democracy is the great cure all for what ails other countries, despite ample evidence to the contrary. For example, attempts to replace the monarchies of central Europe with parliamentary democracies after World War I failed miserably and quickly, with regimes replaced by various forms of autocratic rule. The democracy experiment succeeded only in producing conflict and chaos.

    Now we're engaged in the same enterprise in Iraq and Afghanistan with predictable results. Seems like we either can't or won't learn.

    Mumia W.

    There is simply no evidence that Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden was involved in 9/11. None whatsoever.

    The Taliban offered to hand over Bin Laden if evidence of his guilt was provided. The world is still waiting.

    It's time to wake up. 9/11 was an inside job.

    Deal with reality.

    Both wars were lost when Bush ignored history and sent in the first troops.

    My question no is this: What will our government do if the People of Iraq vote in a government that isn't a puppet of the US? Will they deny it's existence as they have done in Palistine?

    If we push for "democratic" elections - we better be prepared to accept who the people of a country choose. Whether we like them or not.

    Seven years after the supposed liberation of Afghanistan, there is now conclusive evidence that the Nato occupation is a disaster (cf. The errors of Iraq are being repeated - and magnified, Guardian, November 19). The civilian death toll is mounting. The level of violence is higher than at any time since the invasion in 2001. The UN reports that, under occupation, life expectancy has fallen to 43 years and one in five children die before they reach their fifth birthday. Afghanistan is now fourth from bottom of the UN's league table of development. The mounting violence has caused a refugee crisis and, according to Acbar, the umbrella group of Afghan NGOs, it is making the delivery of aid to the majority of the country impossible. The NGOs warn that there is a very real danger that thousands of Afghans will starve this winter.
    The end of the Bush era should be a moment to reassess foreign policy: even the UK ambassador to Afghanistan, Sherard Cowper-Coles, has said the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. It’s time to recognise the facts and to begin to plan the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

    Ms. Amos asks:
    Is there a measure of success in these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?”
    NO. An illegal war; one million dead iraqis and over 4000 dead US and coalition soldiers...and you ask us if there is a measure of success?
    How dare you frame a show on success in iraq.....it's a complete failure and a moral outrage!
    However, there could be a measure of success in regards to JUSTICE concerning these two wars. When we see President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Condeleeza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld tried and put in jail for war crimes against humanity.

    “Success?” Is this a trick question?

    Over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion, according to a study conducted by the prestigious British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB). These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the mass killings of the last century—the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia’s infamous “Killing Fields” during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s. http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/1-over-one-million-iraqi-deaths-caused-by-us-occupation/

    OMG, all these innocent people, how can America allow this insanity to continue? However much we owe the Saudis and China, it couldn’t compare to what we owe these poor Iraqis.

    On a brighter note: Cheney and Gonzalez have been indicted for their corrupt private prisons. http://crooksandliars.com/john-amato/dick-cheney-indicted-tx

    NO! Get out and bring them home. Let's start the conversation from this point; "We have an illegitimate government and they are looting the treasury". Opps, they have looted it and now we are broke. Sad but true. I hope they don't let the lying thieves get away with the biggest heist ever. I appreciate the give and take of the various talking heads and pundits but sometimes I wonder if they can't see the forest before the trees. Isn't it obvious what has happened? I am a Viet Nam Veteran and most guys that I know thought that action was bullshit and so are these. America's meddling in other countries affairs has never been successful. Wasteful, shameful, and quite frankly a crime what has taken place over the past eight years. I don't know that our country can ever recover from this episode in it's history. Does that answer your questions?

    @Rubin Kaplan - this is 2008, not 1888. Please call your doctor and ask him to up your meds. o.o

    IMO: I can see why they censor you as that kind of hate speech and generalizations based on ethnicity has no place in an intelligent forum.

    Back on topic:

    If Afghanistan had been a major oil producer - I'm sure we never would have headed for Iraq. I have friends in Afghanistan and is appalling how abandoned they feel. There are the true heroes - who do what they can with what pittance our country gives them.

    @paul siemering, November 14, 2008 9:19 PM,

    You say there was never a reason to bomb Afghanistan? In 2001, al-Qaeda was based in Afghanistan. The Taliban were protecting them--remember? Perhaps when you read Richard A. Clarke's Against all Enemies you overlooked the part where Mr. Clarke, in 1999, puts the Taliban on notice that they would be held responsible for any further attacks against the U.S. made by al-Qaeda.

    You say you didn't read the book? Please do so. The Afghan War was the correct one. The Iraq War is the distraction that will result in our defeat in the War on Terror.

    Fred Kaplan said, referring to NATO in Afghanistan that, “they go down to the south. Taliban come out to play. And they say, "Oh, well listen, I said I'd come. But, no, I'm not gonna fight at night. I'm not gonna fight on the ground. I'll fight in the north but not in the south." ...if they're not going to put lives on the line, they've got to put money on the line.”

    This sweeping, appalling generalization does an injustice to the sacrifice of lives and the commitment of significant resources that Canada and other NATO countries are making in Afghanistan. Mr. Kaplan should know better.

    As of Oct. 6/08 Canada has 2500 troops deployed in southern Afghanistan at an estimated cost in excess of 24 billion. To put this in perspective, Canada has a population 1/10th of that of the US. On a per-capita basis, Canada's troop commitment to the fight is higher than that of America (US has deployed 20,600 as of Oct6/08).

    Canada has mourned the loss of 97 lives in Afghanistan The US has suffered 627 casualties of it's sons and daughters. Based on the number of troops each country has committed to the fight, Canada has a significantly higher casualty rate than that of it's US ally.

    The Bill Moyer's Journal is known for it's thoughtful social commentary and analysis. It is unfortunate that Mr Kaplan, as a guest commentator did not rise to the occasion.

    (Data from nato.int and icasualties.org)

    Elizabeth Rubin: you said....
    “I think the measure of success is when they’re not in the news anymore, when they start to just become countries that are existing on their own... "
    What make you think not being in the news is a measure of success? that's when the neo-cons in the pentagon, and u.s oil companies can do their best work...when that spotlight is off, when it's not on the evening news anymore and they can get their hands on that oil.
    Please, Ms. Rubin...you insult us when you feign to even answer this silly question. Democracy Building!!...what a joke!! The United States has NO interest in spreading democracy in iraq or anywhere else in the middle east for that matter.
    Talk of democratization is what politicians blather on about to get elected. You might wanna go back and study world history again, or step away from the Council on Foreign Relations long enough to allow some serious refection on why we're in iraq.
    The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are already successes. Just as vietnam was a success. A success for the military industial complex and huge corporations that are profiting from these two wars. As long as the money flows....bling bling....it's a success.
    And Ms. Amos it appears you have chronologically mixed Bush's stated reasons for war. you said.... “When the Bush administration took on Afghanistan and then Iraq, there was this notion that we were involved in a democracy-building operation."
    Were we?
    Gee, I seem to remember something else....when Bush, standing on the pile of rubble at ground-zero with a bull-horn in his hand exclaimed, "We're gonna make those who did this pay!"...I don't remember hearing too much about democracy building then. Not even a notion of it. He whipped us up into a frenzy...for blood...arab blood....meanwhile the corporations began salivating knowing that eventually we were headed to war.
    It was only when they said they couldn't find Bin Laden and the WMD's we're smuggled out that the administration had to change its reason for its illegal invasion and now occupation. So democracy building....no...i don't think so.
    If I sound angry, that's because i am. How dare you frame a discussion on these wars like you have. Especially as we celebrate Veterans Day....vets deserve the truth, and a real debate not some watered down intellectual junk talk. These wars are for power and profit....and you aid the criminals in washington, hosting a talk like this on Moyer's show.

    The US has been a nation of imperialism and oligarchy since about 1776.

    orangutan, what are you referring to when you say we’ve had an “oligarchy since about 1776?” Since we’ve had a Bush in the White House for 20 of the past 28 years (you could say 22+ of the past 34 years if you count Poppy as Director of the CIA, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Jeb in 2012 and his son, P., in 2020), I’ve been calling our current oligarchy as the Prescott oligarchy (named after Poppy's papa). So, how was our nation run by an oligarchy prior to the mid ‘70s? Were you referring to the components of the Iron Triangle? The earliest reference to this only goes back to the post WWI era. Please elaborate.

    Ralph Pulitzer's post WWI comments
    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=2&res=9407E1D71339E13ABC4052DFB7668382609EDE&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

    The market came and ruled the day.
    It was moving fast and here to stay.
    The numbers grew, the rich got richer.
    The American dream was a real bewitcher.
    The stakes were high, chances greater.
    The market crashed, sooner than later.
    Now it is time to fix the cash flow game.
    Base economics on Supply demand gain.
    Invest in people, turn the world green.
    Make life the best, we have ever seen.

    The U.S. should not be concerned with democratizing other nations. Success should be defined as the establishment of a government that respects and protects the human rights of its citizens. Although, our country (U.S.) has had its own human rights problems, the writers of our constitution were correct in trying to protect the country from oppression by a majority. If the U.S. can't establish a system that protects the human rights of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have another surge and declare victory, regardless of the results.

    Beecham says "The US has become an nation of imperialism and oligarchy."

    The US has been a nation of imperialism and oligarchy since about 1776.

    Bill Moyers once possessed an intriguing and meaningful personal narrative. Its trajectory deplored celebrity and embraced responsibility. His curious and critical following has dwindled with age and has been replaced by us refugees from a cultural implosion. He sometimes still creates a window into the mind of exemplary people like Andrew Bacevich, Sarah Chayes or Jeremiah Wright.
    But mostly his sphere has tightened and the well-worn phrases and concepts presented only produce a hunger for what is left unsaid.

    Deborah Amos is refreshing. As a war correspondent she has a more immediate perspective. While I do not think it fair to the Moyers audience that she take over the Journal as moderator she is a preferred alternative to the book sellers and windbag academics Moyers often attracts. (Some of these, like Kevin Phillips, are entertaining but are ultimately wasting our time by reinforcing what we already know or believe.) A rotating team of hosts with different careers and povs are needed to replace Moyers who has earned his rest and privacy.

    Another alternative is to open this show or another to bloggers like those below, so we can see their faces and understand where they are coming from. I am impressed with the knowledge and insight they provide, which is often better than the Journal content.

    Why are things this way? Well, we are consumers now whether we prefer it or not. Organic American culture has ceased production and now arrives in unalterable packaged form. The injustice the Disney machine does to our children illustrates the condition well. Imagination and continuity in dealing with our creative, social and political dilemmas comes a poorly handcrafted distant second to the culture-like substances heaped upon us. I believe popular culture turned on Moyers and he was drowned in conformity and resource coercion.

    Bill tried to solicit videoes from blog correspondents but we have not heard about the response or reception. The censorship over the food situation, transnational elite collusion, 9/11 Truth and economic manipulation have remained out of his bounds, so maybe he was frightened by our response. In any case culture is the constructs, knowledge and tools a people uses to cope with the group, survive and advance. The best we can hope is that Moyers Journal does not indulge further into packaged culture imposed by the needs of the powerful. Anyway, Deborah Amos is a delicious and organic part of the mental diet every Journal watcher needs, but is only one small component of a balanced intake.

    As far as the occupation or domination of other countries, such as the drug nexxuses of Afganistan or Columbia, "success" can only be measured as our wealthy dominating class and their corporations are enriched. Success for us in our powerless state is probably best served by abandoning the delusive fictions of honor, victory or replicated democracy. As the fruit of our "democracy " withers in a toxic storm it has a diminishing "market." Changing the brand (ex: Dole, Chiquita) from Bush to Obama will have little effect without input from the plantation laborers (us). No global problem can be solved until a general and universal empowerment is achieved. When you see the wretched and tortured people overseas you see your political self, awash in victimhood. Moyers Journal must advocate for that needed empowerment or remain a pointless substitute and an obstacle to genuine freedom. Injustice as entertainment is sadism. Look critically at the content, engineered or natural, then decide.

    (You right wing nut jobs blaming "End Times" on Jewish ethnicity do have a point about Israel being held hostage to ruthless corporatism, but if your solution is to blame your Jewish neighbors and the 6 million Israeli citizens , who are diverse in opinion, for the cruelty and selfishness of the wealthy elite, then you are eating from the toilet of fascism, and are tools of said elite.)

    The wars that the U.S. is conducting in the Middle East have nothing to do with "terrorism" or "revenge for 9/11" or any "security" or "freedom." They are wars to save the zionist/jewish entity, called "israel" from its powerful enemies. The same goes for the continued calls for war with Iran.

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria, and any other current or potential target of U.S. war spending are no threat or enemy to the U.S. but they are enemies of the zionist/jewish entity called "israel."

    Until you, Americans, are free to speak the truth in public about the control that the zionists/jews have over the affairs of your country, you will not be free to stop the madness and expense of these and similar wars. Wake up people and take back your right to call the zionists/jews by their true name: your real enemies.

    J Wyatt wrote:

    "The measure of success in Iraq would be the elimination of terror attacks, establishment of Democracy accompanied by free markets and prosperity, and the establishment of permanent US bases to stabilize the region and keep Iran and Syria in check. Anything less will result in a future battle for our children and grandchildren."

    If I hear these words come from President Obama, I will be forced to leave the U.S. I see no hope for the future under those impossible conditions. For every Taliban killed three recruits take his place. If this is pursued, it will evolve into something that makes Viet Nam look like a hockey night brawl.

    Democracy is no longer possible as long as there is a World Trade Organization and/or International Monetary Fund. Why do so many not see that reality?

    J. Wyatt, prepare your children for the worst.

    The word "Success" does not and can not apply to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The idea that creating democracy has ever been a concern of those behind the war is absurd. The wars are about power and control. They are about oil. How can you still not realize this?

    The US has no business at all telling other countries how to run themselves. In any case the US has no interest, and has never had any real interest in spreading democracy. Nor have they had an interest in spreading capitalism. They have an interest in spreading corporatism and dictatorship.

    Are any countries capable of democratic governance? You seem to assume the US is democratic. For one the US constitution calls for a Republic form of government. But we certainly don't follow the Constitution. We are ruled by oligarchs. Oligopoly.

    These questions are based on false assumptions, and are actually quite absurd.

    9/11 was an inside job. It's time to accept this fact. There is absolutely NO evidence Bin Laden was involved. The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq are illegitimate, they are criminal. The US has become an nation of imperialism and oligarchy.

    "Should the United States remain in Iraq and Afghanistan until they become democracies? If not, at what point of “success” should U.S. forces withdraw?"

    How was it that we were able to deal with military action in Germany, Japan and Korea and never worry about when to leave? Nobody seems to think our troops in these countries are a problem - except in some parts of Japan. Some of the time. And why was there little or no mention of the President Elect's position to stay in Afghanistan? This seems to be a well minded earnest effort to get us to give it up in every place of the world and leave the world open to a new force. What or who, I have no idea about. Perhaps Bill has friends down at the corner revolution store.

    Here is a link to an article from Nov. Share International magazine, which speaks to the issue of democracy. It is part two of a two part interview. Part one is posted in the October 08 issue, also to be found at this site.
    http://www.share-international.org/magazine/old_issues/2008/2008-11.htm#cor

    I never miss my Friday night dose of REAL television journalism on Mr. Moyers' thought provoking jounal. Last night, SHAZAAM!, finally, something with substance on the now tragically "put on the back-burner" lingering issue of the Bush Administration's blundering militarisitc arrogance at the expense of the lives and suffering of young and not-so-young American soldiers as well as innocent civilian populations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The "chicken-hawks" are still blabbering the term "victory" about from their comfortable chairs on right- wing- think- tank panels and in propaganda studios on t.v. and radio. Any even moderately informed and rational thinking American knows the hot-button term "victory" is just dishonest hyperbole at its worst. NO! America as a 21st century society cannot,(let alone should not), blindly go down the path of ramming our political system down the throats of other societies in a "well, there will be collateral damage" wink & nod. On our domestic front, as a very hopeful Barack Obama supporter, I PRAY he will not lose his ability to enact real societal change based on his vision through very misguided strategies that will inevitably end up in an 'Afghanistan quagmire" that just might make the Iraq War blunders look like little bumps on the road to amajor car wreck with death 7 suffering ongoing for many years. Just go to the tapes of burning Soviet tanks & helicopters & weeping Russian mothers..LBJ surrendered all chance of enacting his "Great Society" initiatives by the sad & tragic distraction and self-destruction in HIS Viet Nam quagmire.. The same sad and dangerous fate looms large at Obama, with the added threat of a nuclear-armed and fundamentalist regime in Pakistan if he does not tread smartly and cautiously in these waters. One last thing, the nation aty large seems to have 'bought into' the outright lie that we invaded Iraq only to bring stable democratic governace to the area. The real agends were poorly hidden and spoken of in obvious terms by the likes of mr. cheney, who now seems to get to escape prosecution for his illegal & unconstituional bullying of the entire "post-911" national security crisis..Thank you, Ms. Amos for the opening segment of the fine job you did as Mr. Moyers' very capable substitute, and for the selection of well informed AND intentioned patriotic American journalists.....Bruce Robertson, Kauai, Hawaii.

    I never miss my Friday night dose of REAL television journalism on Mr. Moyers' thought provoking jounal. Last night, SHAZAAM!, finally, something with substance on the now tragically "put on the back-burner" lingering issue of the Bush Administration's blundering militarisitc arrogance at the expense of the lives and suffering of young and not-so-young American soldiers as well as innocent civilian populations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The "chicken-hawks" are still blabbering the term "victory" about from their comfortable chairs on right- wing- think- tank panels and in propaganda studios on t.v. and radio. Any even moderately informed and rational thinking American knows the hot-button term "victory" is just dishonest hyperbole at its worst. NO! America as a 21st century society cannot,(let alone should not), blindly go down the path of ramming our political system down the throats of other societies in a "well, there will be collateral damage" wink & nod. On our domestic front, as a very hopeful Barack Obama supporter, I PRAY he will not lose his ability to enact real societal change based on his vision through very misguided strategies that will inevitably end up in an 'Afghanistan quagmire" that just might make the Iraq War blunders look like little bumps on the road to amajor car wreck with death 7 suffering ongoing for many years. Just go to the tapes of burning Soviet tanks & helicopters & weeping Russian mothers..LBJ surrendered all chance of enacting his "Great Society" initiatives by the sad & tragic distraction and self-destruction in HIS Viet Nam quagmire.. The same sad and dangerous fate looms large at Obama, with the added threat of a nuclear-armed and fundamentalist regime in Pakistan if he does not tread smartly and cautiously in these waters. One last thing, the nation aty large seems to have 'bought into' the outright lie that we invaded Iraq only to bring stable democratic governace to the area. The real agends were poorly hidden and spoken of in obvious terms by the likes of mr. cheney, who now seems to get to escape prosecution for his illegal & unconstituional bullying of the entire "post-911" national security crisis..Thank you, Ms. Amos for the opening segment of the fine job you did as Mr. Moyers' very capable substitute, and for the selection of well informed AND intentioned patriotic American journalists.....Bruce Robertson, Kauai, Hawaii.

    I write a great deal of the time, but this needs no long drawn out complications...Besides the strategic ins and outs of the conflict, do you not think this segment could have been better spent contemplating our very involvement in Afghanistan, rather than attempting to ascertain its logistical concerns. Bill, you stand for a freedom of perspective seldom seen in any media, period. Please DO NOT Stop asking the tough questions. Bill, people are dying and suffering over there, shouldn't the question of topic more closely address the real concerns of the truly deprived? Children are dying, by the guns of our sons and brothers and we are in an academic discussion over logistics, rather than the true nightmare of WAR. Please don't disregard our true democratic roots Bill, let’s keep asking those tough questions, because you would be hard pressed to show me any poor person that has gained or advocated for war.


    Q: Should the United States remain in Iraq and Afghanistan until they become democracies? If not, at what point of “success” should U.S. forces withdraw?

    A: No. "Success" should be the point at which the Iraqi people can govern themselves with some semblance of security. I really doubt that the current world situation will hasten this goal at all. We are waiting for the emergence of
    the World Teacher, who is well-equipped to speak to the hearts of all men no matter what their nation, language, or religion. He is a Pakistani with the highest credentials. He has been waiting for an invitation to speak about the needs of mankind and the ways to fulfill those needs and institute justice for all. (see share-international.org) It is the lack of justice which has bred terrorism in the hearts of those with no hope, no means of living much less expressing themselves as human beings. Until this teacher is invited to come forward, we will just have more of the same hostility in the world. And with nuclear bombs available in pretty little packages, we really must take this seriously...not just militarily.

    Q: Should democratizing foreign countries be an objective of U.S. foreign policy?

    A: Certainly not. Why should all nations follow the lead of some? Each nation is the expression of its people. Even in America, where this experiment has been going on for a few hundred years, we do not all agree that America is a democracy.

    The measure of success in Iraq would be the elimination of terror attacks, establishment of Democracy accompanied by free markets and prosperity, and the establishment of permanent US bases to stabilize the region and keep Iran and Syria in check. Anything less will result in a future battle for our children and grandchildren.

    Dear Ms Amos,
    Your informative program brought out the worldly interests in Afghanistan with India, China, Pakistan, Russia, the Taliban and ourselves all fighting, killing and dying, But why? My question is for what reason? Is it merely the poppy plants, or rather oil like Iraq? What does everyone find so valuable to kill and die for? Surely it cannot be for humanitarian reasons, that would be a paradox and wouldn't make any sense at all, would it?

    Thanks,

    =
    MJA

    I believe our invasion of Iraq is just a small piece in a large puzzle. The name of the puzzle is called globalization and some of the other pieces would be the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, job outsourcing, import/export deficit, immigration, rising gas prices, our belly up banks, and finally torture and the Patriot Act.

    To start with, go back about thirty years ago when there were three superpowers, the US, the Soviet Union and China. This was during the Cold War era where both the US and Soviets were posturing to show the world and each other who was more powerful. Then in 1978 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and began fighting Osama bin Laden’s mujahideen (Reagan labeled them as freedom fighters), and they were supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim nations. About 9-10 years later the Soviets had to withdraw because the war had bankrupted their country. Along with the war, the Soviets could no longer afford a military to exercise control over East Berlin and the Eastern Bloc countries. This led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and chaos through out the Soviet Union for several years.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, stated:


    We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would...That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap...The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Afganistan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

    Now is it just me, or does the Soviet invasion sound strangely familiar with our current Iraqi invasion? All of Bush and Cheney’s excuses haven’t panned out (WMD, removing a dictator, staying the course, Iraqi sovereignty…). So, is this our second Vietnam War? Is this war just a means to bankrupt America? Coupled with job outsourcing, import/export deficit, immigration, rising gas prices, and now the failure of our banks, some experts are saying America is on the verge of a full blown depression and it will take years for us to recover.

    Ok, now how does this relate to globalization? Well back in 1991, George H. W. Bush gave a post Gulf War speech which referred to the New World Order (NWO). From guessing, it appears that since people were not very interested with this NWO idea, it was relabeled as globalization, sort of like when the Republicans change the title of the inheritance tax to the death tax. Here’s some of what Wikipedia has to say:


    The Gulf crisis is seen as the catalyst for Bush’s development and implementation of the new world order concept. The authors note that before the crisis, the concept remained "ambiguous, nascent, and unproven" and that the United States had not assumed a leadership role with respect to the new order. Essentially, the Cold War's end was the permissive cause for the new world order, but the Gulf crisis was the active cause.

    They reveal that in August 1990, U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles W. Freeman, Jr. sent a cable to Washington from Saudi Arabia in which he argued that U.S. conduct in the Gulf crisis would determine the nature of the world. Bush would then refer to the "new world order" at least 42 times from the summer of 1990 to the end of March 1991. They also note that Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney gave three priorities to the Senate on fighting the Gulf War: prevent further aggression; protect oil supplies; and, further a new world order. The authors note that the new world order did not emerge in policy speeches until after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, maintaining that the concept was clearly not critical in the U.S. decision to deploy. John H. Sununu later indicated that the administration wanted to refrain from talking about the concept until Soviet collapse was more clear. A reversal of Soviet collapse would have been the death knell for the new order.

    David Gergen suggested at the time that it was the recession of 1991-92 which finally killed the new world order idea within the White House.

    In 1992, Hans Köchler published a critical assessment of the notion of the "new world order," describing it as an ideological tool of legitimation of the global exercise of power by the US in a unipolar environment. In Joseph S. Nye, Jr.'s analysis (1992), the collapse of the Soviet Union did not issue in a new world order per se, but rather simply allowed for the reappearance of the liberal institutional order that was supposed to have come into effect in 1945. This success of this order was not a fait accomplis, however. Three years later, G. John Ikenberry would reaffirm Nye's idea of a reclamation of the ideal post-WWII order, but would dispute the nay-sayers who had predicted post-Cold War chaos. By 1997, Anne-Marie Slaughter produced an analysis calling the restoration of the post-WWII order a "chimera... infeasible at best and dangerous at worst." In her view, the new order was not a liberal institutionalist one, but one in which state authority disaggregated and decentralized in the face of globalization. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_world_order

    Now maybe I have misunderstood this, but from what I have learned in the past eight year, I would have to agree with Slaughter’s assessment where the NWO is a means to global chaos.

    Was America, the guardian of the world, led into a possible depression and chaos which would allow the powers-that-be to advance their global agenda? Why was it so important for Bush to rush the Patriot Act through Congress? Are torture and the Patriot Act just tools to keep us from getting back to way we were? I know this is speculation, but these questions have been bothering me for a few years now (seeing this inevitable financial meltdown has been a curse, but luckily I listened to my hunches).

    So if America is already out on its feet only we just don’t know it, does that mean that globalization has two superpowers down and one to go? If I’m right, then in 2 or 3 decades, the Chinese military will be wasting money while it marches through the northern portion of the Middle East (globalization has determined the Shia are expendable), and the Chinese government’s greed and selfishness will happily allow this to happen.

    Here are some interesting links:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shia
    http://www.transglobalhighway.com/ (a couple years ago, Neil Bush and Rev. Moon were scrounging money for this project)
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/images/attachement/jpg/site1/20080115/0013729e477108f6e02012.jpg (Bush’s 2008 Transfer of Wealth Tour)

    Thank you so very much for airing this segment and presenting such a complicated issue so clearly. As a non-Indian woman concerned about current issues in Indian Country, I am viewed as something of an oddball or hobbyist among my friends. In truth, Supreme Court decisions like the Crow Dog case and the Marshall Trilogy are as much a part of this country's history and battle with racism as Dred Scott or Brown v Board of Education. It's a crime that American citizens know so little about the status of Indian reservations, law enforcement on reservations,or even the laws behind financial successes like Indian gaming.

    Having watched the USSR go down attempting to defeat the Afghani's..We should have never put boots down to begin with. Obviously Iraq was a Oil scam venture- thus Illegal to begin with. Beyond that once Saddam was caught there was absolutely NO reason to remain. Mission Accomplished.
    In addition remaining in Afganistan only aides in recruitment. Instead we should disarm th erebell with Undeniable 'kindness' thus disarming them psychologically.
    an immediate pull out should begin in Iraq, they are ready to control their own destiny. Add to that the fact the only reason this admin has dragged it's feet leaving Iraq is the fact the Oil incs still have not captured their oil fields is an atrocity.The only reason we went in to both is Oil, the only reason we remained is oil and the only excuse remaining regarding staying is Oil.Thus those who should be 'invaded' and their leaders 'dethroned'an dprosecuted are the OIL industry top brass and their Foreign co conspirators.

    Pity my simplicity but what a pity it is that while we are wobbling all over the place trying to force democracy on people who are clueless about managing their own lives.
    In the meantime we are discarding our own Democratic system for a false sense security. We need to give Iraq back to the Iraqis and let them work out their own problems. They have billions of dollars surplus while we are up to our ears in debt to China.
    We removed the Iraq dictator and supported our own dictator which was another pity. We won the war in Iraq. It is the occupation that we cannot win no matter what we do. All that you can do with an occupation is stop the occupation and give the country back to its citizens.
    We removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan; now we need to defend Afghanistan's sovereignty and work out an agreement with the Afghanistan people that allows us to maintain a presence there as a mutual benefit just like we did with Japan.

    I have always enjoyed the thoughtful interviews by Bill Moyer, however tonight's first segment with Barbara Amos was frustrating for me. I am a Canadian viewer...a staunch supporter of both PBS and our own CBC radio. I believe I am an informed citizen and to have to listen through a denigration of the work of NATO in Afghanistan without once mentioning that Canadian troops have been in the south fighting the Taliban. With your Veterans' Day and our own Rememberance Day, Nov. 11, ceremonies just behind us... Canadians mourn our now 97 soldiers and one diplomat killed in that theatre. Is it not time that America and Americans in general begin to acknowledge the efforts made by your northern neighbour and allied forces.
    Amos's two guests spoke of the USA needing to realize that their country will have a diminished role in world affairs....and that a more collaborative foreign policy is the way to repair America's poor image. It would have been a start to have had at least one of the three mention Canada's fairly small but significant role in this country.
    D.W.

    Deborah Amos is a jewel. More please.

    I found this to be one of the most fascinating inter-views I've seen on the sub-ject of the two wars, par- ticularly Ms.Rubin's com- ments about Afghanistan.

    Its time to leave. We don't have the needed man power and money to keep this going.

    Bill,
    This is the worst show that I've ever seen produced in your name. You need a stronger and deeper bench. I hope my sentiment doesn't seem tactlessly blunt; but I hate to see your "good offices" stained.

    If we are no longer 'nation building' than we should get out. The only ones who want us there are the puppets we put in power, they need protections for giving away the oil. Also Bush's cronies will continuely need protection for their oil. our children are just cannon fodder or treated as mercenaries without the pay. A shame

    I could listen to these people for about 5 minutes. I kept wanting to scream "These are wars made of lies! how could you not know that? Was there a reason to ever bomb Afghanistan? no! then why do you talk about it like it needs some different kind of warfare or whatever ? Afghanistan has not had peace for 30 years! that's what they need. Get the bombs and bombers and troops out and let the people live!
    same for Iraq- same stupid lies, same answers- get out.

    Terrorists do not have a geographical location. They are scattered world wide. LIKE GANGS. It is not the military who should be going after them. It's the police in all of the terrorist locations and an international espionage service. No one in charge is using his/her brains. The only people in favor of continuing the war in Iraq are the people who, directly or indirectly, benefit financially from it.
    I hope Obama has thought of this.

    Measuring success in military or political terms is not the objective that we should be looking for. We need to establish a new paradigm for the United States. The New World Order must be based on peaceful coexistence and planet stewardship.

    In order to reestablish our credibility in the world, and take back the high moral and ethical ground, the new president must break the military industrial complex. If he can do that, his legacy will stand with the greatest presidents in our history. Indeed, with all the known rulers in the world. past and present.

    Our military withdrawal from foreign soil should come within weeks of inauguration. I don't have the education and/or political experience to tell anyone how to do this. All I know is that it is."The right thing to do"

    It appears to me that democracy is but a dream. We are living in a dichotomous world; a corporate/political oligarchy, and the rest of us.

    Every election for the past fifty years I have hoped for a real leader to step forward. If President Obama isn't the one, i don't think it will happen in my lifetime.

    We need to create sensible criteria under international law, and then work from there. I would prefer that we establish an international standard that countries should not leak terrorists through their borders, nor sponsor them in other nations (comparable to the Declaration of Paris banning privateering). If a nation has a terrorist infestation, it's their responsibility to get rid of it before it spreads, just like you should eradicate your own termites before they spread to your neighbor's house. A sovereign country should be able to deal with its problems on its own, but if they can't, they shouldn't be ashamed to ask for help, and the rest of the world should be ready to provide it to them to solve the problem (which may come with strings attached for deploying that help in a strategically sound way). If a country can't keep up that standard, they're not meeting their responsibilities as a country, and it's reasonable for other countries to get together to clean up the mess (which will require at least as much police work and development work as it does military operations).

    In that light, American forces should only be in Iraq as long as the Iraqi government invites them there; as soon as Iraq is stable enough to stamp out its own homegrown terrorists, we should withdraw. Afghanistan will take more work, but should have a similar endgame. Either way, the goal should be stabilizing the country to that degree, not trying to remake it according to our vision. That vision should come from the citizens of the country, not an outside power.

    Spreading democracy is best done by showing how excellent it is to live in a democracy and prompting citizens of undemocratic regimes to demand change. If someone asks for our help in democratizing, we should certainly give it, but it's not our business to force it on others.

    I agree with Rubin: stability is the key. Setting aside Iraq, NATO is in Afghanistan because the Taliban at least tolerated AQ, and that sort of haven put a large part of the world at greater risk. I would argue that if the Taliban had, like the Sudanese government in the 90s, realized their error in tolerating AQ's presence, we would have no business in Afghanistan, regardless of the system they governed under. And that same reasoning is putting a strain on the U.S.'s relationship with Pakistan and their tribal areas right now.

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