It seems as though everybody has their own opinion about what should be done in Afghanistan, and in a debate Friday on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, the three participants appeared to be largely talking past one another on the issue.
Columnist Christopher Hitchens’ somewhat meandering argument appeared to be that the Taliban was invented by the Pakistanis as part of their struggle against India and that by effectively taking Pakistan’s side in the dispute, “we’re being played for suckers by the Pakistani elite.”
Republican strategist K.T. McFarlane, on the other hand, still believes that it’s all about terrorism and Pakistani nukes. “It’s extremely important to support Pakistan right now,” she stated. “If they can eliminate the Taliban as we eliminate them in Afghanistan … then you finally get a separation of nuclear weapons and terrorists.”
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald offered a third and very different perspective, focusing on the social rather than the military dimensions of the conflict. “The whole lesson that we supposedly learned from the September 11 attacks,” he stated, “was that one of the mistakes that we made was that we were propping up dictatorial and tyrannical leaders in the Muslim world and therefore turning Muslims against us and making them seethe with anti-American sentiment.”
“We’re doing all the things [in Afghanistan] that inflame anti-American sentiment,” Greenwald emphasized, “which our own government says is the fuel that gives rise to Islamic radicalism…. We’re aiding and abetting the extremists .”
Hitchens then rambled on at some length, proposing that the real problem is the war on drugs and that we had any sense we would be paying the Afghans to grow poppies — or maybe grapes — instead of letting the Taliban reap the profits of the drug trade. Greenwald, however, remained unconvinced.
“When you hear things like this, you feel like you’re living in a fantasy world,” Greenwald commented. “I mean, we’re a country that almost brought the entire globe to economic collapse. We have enormous debt that we’re drowning in ourselves. The idea that we can go to that part of the world and magically cure the problems that are over there is just inanity. We’ve been trying for ten years and we’ve been making the problem worse.”
“The inanity is pretending that Afghanistan will go away if we leave it,’ Hitchens grumbled.
This video is from MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, broadcast Dec. 4, 2009.