Scott Horton Interviews Michael Hastings

Scott Horton, April 21, 2009

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Michael Hastings, author of the article “Obama’s War” in GQ Magazine, discusses the skepticism among some high-ranking military officers about the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, the inevitability of diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban, the permeation of Afghan society by the drug trade and the frightening talk about a 25 year U.S. committment to Afghanistan and the broader region.

MP3 here. (28:16)

Michael Hastings is the author of I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story.

3 Responses to “Michael Hastings”

  1. The best one-liner I’ve read about coin recently: Just because there is counterinsurgency theory doesn’t mean the U.S. should practice it. Though Hastings’s parting line is pretty good: The history of counterinsurgency is written by the losers.

    Occupation of Afghanistan worked out so well for the Soviets and the Brits. /s

    I think Obama’s been played by the generals.

  2. A very interesting interview but a question comes to mind. Do the military know there is oil in Afghanistan? From all the reports there is talk about Al-Qaida, the Taliban, building roads, schools, helping the Afghan women etc. but there is never talk of oil.
    In the US there is a blackout concerning the bases used to gain control of oil production, pipelines and routes with taxpayers money for the commlercial benefit of the oil companies and a controlling hand in the international power struggle, but can the high military commanders ignore this fact or is it what it looks like, Washington hypocrisy transplanted yet again.

  3. This is a very cynical view of Afghanistan and Afghans.

    The is no background information on why Afghanistan is in the current situation.

    Afghan Government
    In 2001, the US placed the same warlords that destroyed Afghanistan during the 1990s into power- that include Karzi because he was part of that movement. These warlords now run a corrupt government and has failed. And the Afghan people have lost all trust in the central government.

    Drugs
    The US and allies have allowed the cultivation of drugs for the past seven years. Karzai’s own family and other warlords have profited, including the Taliban. And this is not a drug culture, only a few minor part of the population is making the profit. The average Afghan farmer is hardly having enough to feed his family with the cultivation of the drugs.

    Afghan Army and Police
    The Afghan army and police force were dismantled by the warlords in 1992 that US government supported in the take over– because the US government had a bone to pick with former communist Afghan government and army. From 1992 – 2001 no formalized standing national security force existed. And a bloody civil war took place. Not a surprise because when you have no security bad things will happen.

    Rebuilding the Afghan Army and Police
    Because there is no proper oversight and deep guidelines, the improper recruiting and training has taken place. Hence you have an army and police that is corrupt and ill disciplined. Obama wants to triple the size of the Afghan Army and Police force, but that may not be the best solution because 1) Afghanistan cannot pay for such a huge increase and 2) you will have more incompetent Afghan personnel.

    Michael Hastings’ article and the much bigger picture
    I have read his article and it is insightful. But he only taking a look at a very small part of Afghanistan–a small outpost in the eastern border. What the article and his interview lacks his is deeper understanding of why Afghanistan is in the situation it is in. And the fact is that Afghanistan’s failure has been the result of over 30 years of US foreign policy dated back to the Carter period that planned to get the USSR to invade Afghanistan so that the USSR can have their Vietnam. In other words, the US was out to get revenge. And over 30 years later followed by bad US policy after another, the US is entangled in this mess.

    For the Anti-War Movement
    Yes, war is bad. But more energy needs to be put on the US government to get rid of and put onto trail all the warlords that run Afghanistan and help the Afghan people established a functional government that is for the people and by the people of Afghanistan. When this is done, peace will be established.

    Farhad

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