Monday, October 05, 2009

A Con Job On Afghanistan

It is not ignorance with Rush Limbaugh. Rush knew enough in one of his rambling discourses on October 4 to explain "McChrystal wants to shift troops away from those remote outposts that are difficult to defend and move them into more heavily populated areas as part of a new strategy to focus on protecting Afghan civilians and this is what Obama's waiting on."

Limbaugh, apparently, has some idea of what the issues are in Afghanistan. But this didn't stop him from telling a caller a few minutes later

We were there before he got there but he ramped this up and I'm wondering how much of it was genuine or because he thought he had to just because during the campaign the Democrats say we should never have been in Iraq, we should have been in Afghanistan. That's where we needed to be. Bush distracted us from the real problem. That's where Osama is. We need to going after Osama. Now they couldn't care less about Osama

Never mind that Limbaugh won't acknowledge that President Bush had no policy toward Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Gates is only the latest individual to notice "that the strategy the president put forward in late March, is the first real strategy we have had for Afghanistan since the early 1980s. And that strategy was more about [the] Soviet Union that it was about Afghanistan" (a strategically disastrous policy at that).

The manipulative nonsense Limbaugh is spewing here is the implication that President Obama is reluctant to provide the 40,000 additional soldiers requested by General McChrystal because "they (presumably the administration's doves but, as usual, Limbaugh cowardly avoids specificity) couldn't care less about Osama." But as someone with a decent knowledge about the war there, Limbaugh is intentionally misrepresenting the policy issue.

McChrystal is urging a counterinsurgency strategy (COIN), which would

underscore how much the mission in Afghanistan has shifted from the narrow focus of "get Al Qaeda" that prevailed at the start of the war to one where US soldiers and civilian aid workers are expected to reduce corruption at the local and national levels, train Afghan cops and soldiers, improve local economies, and aid in building a democratic central government.

In contrast, V.P. Biden wants to

Scale back the overall American military footprint in Afghanistan, drop the mission of rescuing the country from the Taliban, focus on strikes against Al Qaeda along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border -- the real threat to U.S. national security -- using special forces and Predator missile attacks.

Does this sound like "now they couldn't care less about Osama?" Of course not, and Limbaugh realizes it. He could inform his listening audience of those facts in the public domain, as Trudy Heller did on Sunday in The Philadelphia Inquirer upon noting

Only 16 percent of Pakistanis expressed a favorable view of the United States in a recent Pew Research Center survey. Only 13 percent had confidence in President Obama - a mere bump of 6 percentage points over former President George W. Bush.

And, critically, 76 percent are opposed to Pakistan's partnering with the United States in drone attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremists - even though those drones killed the man accused of murdering former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.


And then he could make a reasonable observation, such as

Unless the United States develops a strategy for reaching Pakistanis, with real stories of U.S. aid - not fake "public diplomacy" - the local population will continue to view us with hostility, no matter how much aid money we send there. That hostility translates into gains for al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Rush Limbaugh could reverse course and occasionally provide his audience with information. Understandably, though, he finds it more productive to proceed on his course of deception and disinformation in his pursuit of re-creating a Republican majority.

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