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Bill Moyers on Sending More Troops to Afghanistan

Concluding this week's JOURNAL, Bill Moyers delivered the following commentary on President Barack Obama's decision to send nearly 50% more troops to Afghanistan.
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For more JOURNAL coverage of the situation in Afghanistan, you may wish to explore Bill Moyers' recent conversations with former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes and experts Pierre Sprey and Marilyn B. Young.

We invite you to respond in the space below.


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This is now Obama's and the Democrats war, all during the built up to Iraq, the second Bush term and the election. Democrats and Obama made it a point that Afghanistan was the "Good War" and Iraq was a mistake. While I do agree that Iraq was a mistake, there are no "Good Wars". Today its been 8 years since the start of this ground attack, which was supposed to just get one person aka Osama bin Laden,(remember that guy), who started this turkey shoot. After spending Billions upon billions of dollars and countless human lives when is enough, enough?
So far the so-called stratergy for winning has been changed numerous times. How many more times does Obama have to send in another general with a nother ideal for winning? How many flag draped coffins have to come home for this Good War? Plus what is the standard bearer of winning in Afghanistan? What is victory? Osama is still running around in Pakistan and who knows where? The Al-Qudea is still out there planning attacks and other diabolical misdeeds. When are we going to get out of this "Good War"? We're currently leaving the mistake war in Iraq, though we're still putting more troops into harms way for this so-called "Good War".
Obama and the DNC wanted it and now there getting it. "It" , being there so-called "Good War".

While I feel that we should leave Afghanistan - what I don't know is what will happen when we do. Leaving that country and its people to the mercy of the warlords or Taliban would be inhuman. Warlords have tortured the people, raped and brutalized women and the Taliban have subjected their own brand of torture on Afghan villagers. And always it will be the women who suffer more. Is this what we want to leave the Afghan people with? Why can't the people of the world do better? Why must we stand aside again as brutality reigns rampant on a people?

The Mind-boggling thing is, it still goes on and on.


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I did not read all the comments, but I need to remind your respondents that sending the troops over to Afghanistan may be the less awful that to take them back to the U.S. where there are no jobs for them.
Although, perhaps,it would cost less to keep the soldiers and their families at home.

Dear Mr.Moyers,
Thanks for your continuing hard work for on-going dialogue. In your own way a bit of national compassion.
As to engagement in Afganistan, that has defeated numbers of empires since Alexander the Great. What might resolve the issue is to spend half the estimated military budget and to send agricultural reps and some politicos together to gather local questions of need to act as intermediaries to their Govt. and to assist in rebuilding an infrastructure of self- sustaining food production that would feed and produce economic stability. We'd to do it here in America during the 1930s to dampen the Dust Bowl under Roosevelt.
Then to withdraw to let Afgannis resolve their own internal affairs. Thus far fewer losses of: American lives, assets and further tarnishing of America's "light" of possibility.
Thanks again for your in depth programs and open attitude for discussions.

Fighting a war and then cccupying Afghanistan for diplomatic reasons will take decades. How long have the U.S troops been in S. Korea? Correct me if I am wrong but I believe it has been half a century.

When I heard President Obama's announcement that he was pulling all troops out of Iraq, I heard the beginning of the typical politician set up (during the cheers) of, But... we are deploying those men and women to Afghanistan. Throughout the Presidential campaign I never believed for a second that he would bring change. What experience had Senator Obama acquired to bring about the changes he promised as President Obama? On the job training was a frightening proposition but it is happening. Greater men have tried less and did not live to see the fruits of the seeds for change that they planted. Change takes decades and centuries. That is the reason why many had to turn away from the news, even PBS. So far, we have a change of residents at the White House. I have to say however, that it is quite refreshing to have a President who is well spoken. But I have to listen carefully to his words. I actually do not have to cringe when this President speaks. It was too painful to watch former President Bush who, for an educated man, was horrifyingly inarticulate and lost his sanity right before our eyes during his press conferences during his lame duck term.

The President and members of Congress should be reminded every day that someone's precious child is not coming back alive. And it should not be a moment of silence, or a movie but some figurative slap in the face for using someone else's child to advance their personal and political gain. It should sting them as much as it stings the parents and families of fallen men and women every day. It is obvious when you see the President's daughters that they have received nothing but love and nurturing from both of their parents. I hope that the President is capable of appreciating and understanding that same beauty in other people's sons and daughters. The former President surely did not. I hope this surge is worth their lives. I hope that I am wrong about not having enough faith in President Obama.

It appears that the president and his advisers never did watch "The Charge of the Light Brigade" as they prepare the surge. The WAR WILL CONTINUE, “from which many now living will never return!” Just yesterday there were 5 more killed 4, in Afghanistan 1 in Iraq
After listening to more “HOT AIR” by the speech of president Obama, I was just thinking of Michael Winship. Few weeks ago Mr. Winship had very well stated,
" That BREEZE you’ll feel blowing out of Washington will NEVER be the WINDS of CHANGE; just a fetid gust generated by Beltway blusters of hot air and the endless spin of those damned revolving doors".

Why, when speaking of Afghanistan does lame-stream news lie: The Taliban practically destroyed the drug trade and the US brought it back! Fact is, the military are standing guard over the poppy fields. Another thing, since the US is involved in an ILLEGAL war (invasion) of Iraq & Afghanistan why does the rhetoric keep repeating that the military is over there "defending" the US. My question, everyone's question should be, "defending" the US from what? The fact that 911 was a US/Israel engineered crime is now almost fully understood by even the most intellectually challenged, so, again, what are the military "defending"? Not only are the US/Israel in the process of annihilating the native people of Palestine, but they are now using the excuse of "Al-CIA-da" in Pakistan to bomb that country and provoke a Pakistan/India war.

I've heard US military talk about Pakistan as a "rogue" country! What is the US/Israel then? What? US/Israel have, and are, using DU weapons, not to mention DIME and white phosphorus, illegal weapons under international law (but then the US/Israel know no law) on shepherds and babies!!!

And lest we forget the US is the ONLY country to actually USE nuclear weapons, and on a country that was already on its knees! But to hear the US/Israel tell it, they have to protect themselves from all those big, bad, boogy men waiting to throw rocks at them. Ugh! The lies told by the US/Israel and their "media" are an abomination!

FALSE FLAGS have proved a reliable way to initiate wars (invasions) throughout history, but the US/Israel have used up their quota long ago. Who can forget WTC 7 clearly visible behind that female talking head's shoulder as she declared how the building had collapsed! The media was in on it, told to say this & that, and they did which makes them complicit.

The cat is out of the bag and the so-called media (and its masters) will be brought to justice for its crimes-- and that day can't come soon enough.

I'm a coward, but I can still be a good citizen, just maybe not a good soldier. If you send me to war I'm gonna be a problem because I always question orders, even in restaurants.

If I want to feel safe I'll draft beecham, and ethan allen, and David Eddy, and Mark O'Donnell and some brave gays to protect the Homeland. That's the way Cheney and Bill Clinton do it. Dub just follows orders. We hope not Obama?

Gays in the military, why not? Everyone has sexual drives and sexual identity. Maybe it is an illusion to categorize these things. Women are a little different from our ideal man, and they are in the military already. Our military would not be truly representative if we exclude.

As for disobeying unlawful orders. You're a coward if you can't do that, in the military or on Wall Street.

"You sir are a coward. It is not the place of the military to decide what is moral or immoral from an abstract concept. While that mindset, does win us laughs at times for doing goofy things, I assure you it was not my place to question. And those around me, who never watched their familiies grow would also call you a coward.

1SG(ret.) James A. Williams

Posted by: Adam Williams |"


Adam Williams

A coward is one who refuses to think for himself, and who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.

The duty of the military is to defend the freedoms of the American people. It is not to do the bidding of the President, who serves the banks.

Are you really suggesting that a soldier should follow any order if it is given from an authority figure?

"I was just following orders."

"I was just doing my job."

Cowardice. Words that can be used to justify anything. You are responsible for your own actions. If you follow an order to commit evil, you are responsible for that evil, regardless of who that order comes from, be it the President, a general, an admiral, or a ceo.

Robert Stevens is correct that our government is neither moral or solvent. It is owned and controlled by banks and corporations and does not represent the American people.

Somehow "goofy' doesn't seem like the right word. Invading and occupying two contries without any justification doesn't seem "goofy. It's called imperialism.

Bill, Amen to your comparison of empire and innocence - those few short words who's message may be lost on most. Cowards are those who for whatever reason will not brave the slings and arrows. Bill you are no coward. Thank you for walking the hero path.

I am ashamed of the various comments posted on this blog. I am not ashamed of their words, but the complete lack of understanding of how the military functions:
"4. Troops: Get back home where you belong, and stop pretending that you represent a moral, solvent government. Posted by: Robert Stevens | February 22, 2009 12:41 PM.

You sir are a coward. It is not the place of the military to decide what is moral or immoral from an abstract concept. While that mindset, does win us laughs at times for doing goofy things, I assure you it was not my place to question. And those around me, who never watched their familiies grow would also call you a coward.

1SG(ret.) James A. Williams

Four comments on VietnamIraqRedux, Afghanistan:

1. "I regret that I have but one son to give to George W. Bush." - Texas father of soldier killed last March in Iraq.

2. Stay out of Afghanistan! 40 MILLION Pashtuns, infuriated by English and Russian and American warmongering insults to all decency, CANNOT be put down by THOUSANDS of American troops.

3. Is it just me, or do the troops' helmets look like those of the same fascists who raped Poland in 1939! Do you remember the German cries of blood lust in 1939: "Support Unsere Truppen"?

4. Troops: Get back home where you belong, and stop pretending that you represent a moral, solvent government.

After listening to the last show, I was wondering what would happen to the economy, if us (the middle) class stopped using credit cards, starting saving and only buy what we needed.
Stop the illusion of buying the good life.

The Credit Card industry needs to be really reformed and controlled by government regulations.

"The destruction of the Constitution is something I never thought I would live to see."
You are so right and not alone!

mike libner:

"The Washington Post reports on the unearthing of some FBI documents from the 1960's when Moyers worked for LBJ..."

People do grow and change you know, as does our culture and society. And forgiveness is something we all need to practice in order to make peace and move forward.

I.e., yeesh, 40 years, let it go already.

9/11 was an inside job.

Google Richard Gage
Googe David Ray Griffin

Stop believing lies.

No more war.

knowing America is going down the path to another Vietnam or Iraq in Afghanistan at a cost of $775,000 per soldiers is proof Obama is no better than the "Republicans" who got us into Iraq.

All that effort and money is needed at home.

It is a crime that war is seen as the first step in solving human problems. and the powers that be like it that way. to change the focus away from their scandalous abuse of society.

Vietnam should have been enough to teach Americans that violence begets violence and never solves the problems, only delays facing them. the moral dilemma of Vietnam was never settled. Accountability was sacrificed on the altar of patriotism

War is for those CEOs and companies that use men and women as cannon fodder.
some things never change.

for too long the distractions have successfully worked in keeping Americans "buying into the game" so the house of cards con could continue.

It really is amazing to watch the same games being played over again, as they were in the '60s. that it took 30 years or so for the reality to return is a testament to the efforts of keeping the truth hidden.
and i bet no one will be held accountable still!
some thing never change

The destruction of the Constitution is something i never thought i would live to see. much less torture as well. secret wiretapping, rendition, gulags,... the list is a shame filled one.

to say i was right about this or that won't help one bit, though.

the social contract must be renewed.

what i am most surprised about is to see was Rove's policy of divide and conquer in the American body politic come back and bite Republicans, hard. To see all those groups that were derided and demeaned as "unamerican," vote as a bloc. all those so-called anti-Americans voting together as one, and able to oust the evil that Rove has perpetrated upon America.
it is also very sad to see that candidate endorse torture, secrecy and the evils of the previous administration. when you sell your soul...

Tragic gap,if I understand it, is a centering mechanism for pragmatic realism. So the question is, regardless of moral implications, does the United States as an enterprise have anything worthwhile to gain in Afghanistan, and can they succeed in that mission?

I'm sure there is an elite that has much wealth to gain in securing pipeline oil transport, and in the importation of heroin. I'm sure such temporary success would combine with military expenditures going to the same class and parties. It all depends upon whether one identifies our nation as an Empire synonymous with these elite interests. I do not.

There is an inner city slang expression of elastic meaning, "in the cut." It can mean sexual access or a solid relationship. The security of sexual partnering is extended to cover the concept of being in a safe place. Still the limitation of being hidden between immense and dangerous forces is implied. Being between Iran and Pakistan 12,000 miles from home cannot connote any of the good vibes surrounding "in the cut." The strategic Manas base in Kyrgyzstan will soon be denied to our forces and the Russian invitation to an alternative could prove to be a "treacherous feast." Several empires, including the neighboring Russians have failed to conquer or control this vast and rugged region. Our technology and our troops are spread thin. Our supply lines are long and costly and our allies are exiting for the most part.

The risk is that we could have 30,000 troops crushed in a vice and lack the resources to properly supply or rescue them. Imagine if 10,000 of our service personnel were held hostage in prison camps. What reasonable recourse would a bankrupt and disillusioned nation have? No, we are not "in the cut" in a good sense because we are occupiers and are not well liked.

I feel sorry to tell Sarah Chayes what I believe, but I am certain we cannot afford to stay in Afghanistan for much longer, and we probably can't afford to provide advisers on development or much appreciable aid. I think Sarah is one who dreamed an idealistic dream and ended up outside the tragic gap, hoping beyond reality. Maybe it is partially because she believes the USA is exceptional in its methods and values. That is mistaken. I think we are failures in our own home who have little to teach others in theirs.

I am not into Realpolitick, which is a mindset of empire, and I do think President Obama is mistaken to send more troops. I would like to hear that little Afghani girls are attending school unmolested and that alternative crops to opium are being grown, but if that has not happened for the most part(and is hardly growing) after 8 years of occupation I doubt that it ever will. Maybe it can be done, but our forces cannot do it.

It seems we are facing budget cuts in education and agriculture here at home. Will our girls be able to grow strong and wise like Sarah and will the extensive drug fields planted in California by drug cartels be eradicated? I am doubtful. Maybe Sarah needs to come home and teach women here how to form a cooperative and make pomegranate skin creme. Even if she did would not the courts shut her down or facist militias attack on American soil on the grounds her methods are not capitalist enough? Innovators are not "in the cut" at home where we patch the failed method and mind set if only to pre-empt better ways.

We can never have democracy as long as our economy is an updraft that serves an oligarchy at public expense, and neither can Afghanistan. When we become healed then we can doctor others, but we are a sick nation today.

Chasing Osama bin Laden (who is likely dead) is an insane pursuit outside the tragic gap. Stopping nuclear development in Iran by force is probably also beyond our power. We are unlikely to be able to secure Pakistani nuclear warheads from the Afghani back door. It is time to withdraw and prepare for contingencies.

Our leadership can't seem to grapple with the "tragic gap" and at its best endeavors to seek the drug dealer's temporary respite of being "in the cut." Right now the government is in danger of being crushed between the needs and and demands of failed business and those of the populace. It is "in the cut" in the worst sense. And worse than that "in the cut" can imply that one is on the take or inside on the packaging and dealing of death. As long as our government serves a business ideology that has been disproven by failure it is delusional and outside the tragic gap.

Continuing the charade of a war on terror and attempting to maintain occupations on the other side of the globe show extreme dementia at this juncture. The next shift in the global balance that goes against us may prove our final undoing. Anyone who doesn't see that is certainly delusional. We mistook being "in the cut" for acceptance of the tragic gap.

The discussion of the tragic gap really ties in with your dismay about the Obama troop surge in Afghanistan. In 1932 the Japanese invaded Manchuria. There was a great debate in the US about intervention. Two brothers (the Neibuhr brothers) debated this issue of intervention. Here is the link describing that debate. enough Reinhold Neibuhr used that phrase "tragic gap" in his debate with his brother. Obama reads Reinhold Neibuhr. I can only suspect that he took Reinhold's side of the 1932 debate which was to confront Japan while his brother's side, do nothing but pray, eventually one out. I have faith that Obama will stand in the tragic gap and not go over either edge and his heart will expand as will ours. The American General hugging the Afghan in today's news was worth a 1000 words. With love and determination to seek Justice in Afghanistan we will prevail. Obama has 2 daughters and I know he is imagining how the Afghan fathers with daughters will feel as their daughters are denied justice by the Taliban in the form of equal opportunities for education and to pursue life liberty and happiness.

The nauseating hypocrisy of the left on Bill Moyers
Rick Moran
Bill Moyers is a sanctimonious jerk who piously ran a series of broadcasts that excoriated the Bush Administration for violating the American people's right to privacy by initiating programs to protect the nation from a terrorist attack.

Now it turns out that Moyers likes peeping through keyholes into people's bedrooms. The Washington Post reports on the unearthing of some FBI documents from the 1960's when Moyers worked for LBJ:

Bill Moyers, a White House aide now best known as a liberal television commentator, is described in the records as seeking information on the sexual preferences of White House staff members. Moyers said by e-mail yesterday that his memory is unclear after so many years but that he may have been simply looking for details of allegations first brought to the president by Hoover.

No, he wasn't "just looking for details of allegations." That is a baldfaced lie. From The Corner:

Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men’s room in Washington. Evidently, the president was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater’s staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers’ memo to the FBI was in one of the files.

Gay Patriot (who gets the Hat Tip for the links) asks: "Isn’t using the FBI to dig up dirt on political opponents kind of similar to what Nixon did in Watergate? There’s even a memo in the FBI files."

But this isn't really news. It came out in 2005 but never caused a ripple of concern among our guardians of gay rights. If a Republican had tried something like that he would have been handed his manhood on a plate. Instead, Moyers is celebrated for his courage in speaking truth to power -- even though when it comes to violating privacy rights, he has the inside track on knowledge of how to go about doing it.

So where are the gay rights activists who would crucify a Republican if they outed a Democrat? John Avarosis at Americablog was involved in an effort a few years ago to out gay Republican Congressmen and staffers. Where is his outrage today? Where is the outrage of the rest of the left who get their panties in a twist every time a Republican mentions "gay marriage?"

Where's the outrage of the media? Why not drive this hypocritical Johnson toady out of broadcasting? If not for this, then certainly for the fact that he sicced the FBI on Martin Luther King among other targets. Tom Lifson covered this story when it surfaced again during the campaign. He links to a comment by journalist Thomas Lipscomb on Moyers' website and quotes Morley Safer on Moyers' hyopcrisy:

I find it hard to believe that Bill Moyers would engage in character assassination over one evening news broadcast -- even given the political imperatives of the moment. But I confess, I find it harder not to believe it.

His part in Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover's bugging of Martin Luther King's private life, the leaks to the press and diplomatic corps, the surveillance of civil rights groups at the 1964 Democratic Convention, and his request for damaging information from Hoover on members of the Goldwater campaign suggest he was not only a good soldier but a gleeful retainer feeding the appetites of Lyndon Johnson.

It's all too confusing. Bill Moyers, the sometimes overly pious public defender of liberal virtue, the First Amendment, and the rights of miniorities playing the role of Iago."

Of course Safer had felt the effect of one of Moyers nastier disinformation campaigns himself. LBJ and his press secretary Moyers summoned CBS head Frank Stanton to the White House and "threatened that, unless CBS got rid of me and 'cleaned up its act' the White House would 'go public'with information about Safer's 'Communist ties.'"

Moyers may not have "gone public" but somehow the ambassador to Vietnam called Safer "a KGB agent" and Secretary of State Dean Rusk noted his "ties to the Soviet intelligence apparatus."

This is the great liberal lion -- a man that has no business criticizing Bush or anyone else for violating privacy rights given his own peeping history.

I suppose we should expect nothing less from people who praise and lionize Robert Byrd and Barney Frank despite their pasts. You would have to be brain dead not to recognize the fact that if a Republican or conservative had been revealed as a former KKK member or ran a bordello out of his residence, they would have been hounded from public life.

Mr. Silberman offered to study the matter and, should Mr. Moyers's allegations pan out, he would publicly exonerate him. "There was a pause on the line and then he said, 'I was very young. How will I explain this to my children?' And then he rang off."

There is but One difference between Bush and Obama, their parties their wars and their ever fattening economy of bailed out friends, and that is the color of their skin. But for me and many others, that is no difference at all. Status Quo.



The movie 'Gallipoli' (1981), with Mark Lee and Mel Gibson, also gives a similar message.


I understand your concern about increasing the number of US troops in Afghanistan, and its history of defeating all invading armies. I believe that President Obama has a goal that is going to avoid the trap that you fear. The real problem is the possible collapse of Pakistan. The main purpose of our presence in Afghanistan must be to strengthen a diplomatic and military effort to enable Pakistan to deal with its problem with Taliban fundamentalism and Al Quaeda, and to come to peace with India. If this can be achieved Afghanistan will then be in a position to resume its slow progress towards its own form of government and society without outside interference.
US troops and firepower hopefully will support the Pakistani army by limiting Taliban access to narco money and weakening them to allow the Pakistani government to resume control of its country, and the errant components of its military. This clearly will take years. The presence of nuclear weapons and the possibility of dangerous conflicts if Pakistan were to become more unstable do not allow us to continue the Bush administration's neglectand mismanagement.
It is clearly a hazardous and uncertain policy but the alternative options are much worse. We cannot help Pakistan directly with troops and must work to reduce the tensions with India.
The probability that Iran will become a nuclear power enormously complicates the matter and would increase the risks coming from any failure in Pakistan.
Thanks for your great programmes and enlightened attitude.
T.G. Christopher

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