Talking, rather than fighting, in Afghanistan
President Obama held his first prime-time news conference Tuesday night. When questioned on
Meanwhile, the Associated Press recently cited a classified report drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommending a shift in strategy from democracy-building in
And the campaign has clearly begun. Days after his inauguration, Obama's first (known) military actions were two missile strikes inside
Cherif Bassiouni has spent years going back and forth to
Bassiouni's scathing 2005 U.N. report accused the U.S. military and private military contractors of "forced entry into homes, arrest and detention of nationals and foreigners without legal authority or judicial review, sometimes for extended periods of time, forced nudity, hooding and sensory deprivation, sleep and food deprivation, forced squatting and standing for long periods of time in stress positions, sexual abuse, beatings, torture, and use of force resulting in death."
I also put the question of the military surge to former President Jimmy Carter. He responded: "I would disagree with Obama as far as a surge that would lead to a more intense bombing of Afghan villages and centers and a heavy dependence on military. I would like to see us reach out more, to be accommodating, and negotiate with all of the factions in
Carter should know. He helped create what his national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, called "the Afghan trap," supporting Islamic mujahedeen in the late-1970s against the Soviets in
More than 14,000 Soviet troops were killed, and the Afghan toll exceeded 1 million. Osama bin Laden got his start with the help of the CIA-funded Afghan operation.
Bassiouni suggests that a military solution is doomed to failure, noting that the Taliban "realized they could not defeat the American forces, so they went underground. They put their Kalashnikovs under the mattresses, and they waited. A year ago, they resurfaced again. They can do the same thing. They can go back in the mountains, push the Kalashnikovs under the mattress, wait out five years. They have been doing that since the 1800s with any foreign and every foreign invader."
As Carter told me, "To offer a hand of friendship or accommodation, not only to the warlords but even to those radicals in the Taliban who are willing to negotiate, would be the best approach, than to rely exclusively on major military force."
Have we learned nothing from
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in