Media Fail On Af-Pak
Judah Grunstein gets lost in "the fog of politics" surrounding Afghanistan:
[T]he debate, as it's unfolding in the media, is riddled with misinformation and false propositions. Remember how last March, al-Qaida was a grave threat, and drone strikes targeting its leadership in the Pakistan FATA were exacerbating a catastrophic situation that, if not urgently reversed, could lead to the imminent takeover of Pakistan, nukes and all, by the Taliban? Now it turns out that, for all that Afghanistan is on the brink, things aren't so bad in the FATA, after all.
I suppose it makes as much sense to complain about opinion shaping as it does about the weather. But there's still some value in pointing it out as it happens.
The debate in Washington now boils down to political optics -- namely, of whether or not to send more troops, itself an area of some opaqueness. Generating public support, of course, is an important component in a democracy's conduct of war. But the current battle for American public opinion obscures the ways in which the answer to many of the questions we're confronted with in Afghanistan is that we simply don't know. The only thing that's certain is that none of the proposed approaches is free, and none offers an iron-clad guarantee of success. They all come with costs and risks attached. It would be refreshing to see that more forthrightly acknowledged as the debate moves forward.