Daily Video

August 25, 2009

Afghan War “Deteriorating”

After five months of President Obama’s campaign in Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen offered a bleak assessment of the situation in Afghanistan calling it “serious and deteriorating.”

Taliban attacks and American and Afghan casualties are all on the rise and polls show that American public support for the war is dropping. As top American commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal begins a strategy review, some military leaders are pushing for an increase in U.S. troops in the region.

In this video, NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner talks to analysts about American strategy in the Afghan war.


“I think it is serious, and it is deteriorating, and I’ve said that over the last couple of years, that the Taliban insurgency has gotten better, more sophisticated. Their tactics, just in my recent visits out there and talking with our troops certainly indicate that.” – Admiral Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman

“I was in Kandahar this summer, and it was very hard to talk to people that didn’t show disgust with allied policies. The problem in Afghanistan is the delta or the difference between the people’s expectations and what’s been delivered.” – Thomas Johnson, Naval Postgraduate School

“In both Vietnam and Afghanistan, these are both countries that had defeated a European powerhouse over a 10-year guerilla war that then resulted in basically a north-south civil war.They both are countries that have an uncontrollable border where the insurgents or the guerillas are taking refuge in a neighboring country. In both instances, I think that we misread — the United States, that is — the actual enemy that we’re fighting. In Vietnam, we thought the Viet Cong were primarily communist when they were nationalists that were trying to reunite the country.” Thomas Johnson, Naval Postgraduate School

Warm Up Questions

1. What is the Taliban? Where are they located?

2. Why did the the U.S. go to war with Afghanistan? How long has the U.S. been there?

Discussion Questions

1. Why is the war in Afghanistan so difficult?

2. What is a “counterinsurgency” war?

3. Many analysts have compared the war in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War. In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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