COMMENTS: Afghan Troops plus Slain Cops plus Tiger’s Silence

An assorted trio of stories attracted the attention of all three newscasts. All three joined in the celebrity fun as tabloid rumors swirled around a taciturn Tiger Woods. All three national newscasts covered a local crime story from the Tacoma suburbs, where a quartet of off-duty police officers was murdered at a coffee shop table. All three previewed President Barack Obama's foreign policy speech on the war in Afghanistan with the news that the Commander in Chief had already given marching orders to 30,000 additional troops. All three newscasts chose to lead with Afghanistan and it was Story of the Day by a narrow margin.

Jake Tapper, ABC's usually plainspoken White House correspondent, lapsed into incoherence in repeating his anonymous briefing from a "senior administration official" on the President's policy in Afghanistan. "His strategy is based more on fighting terrorism than on nation building," Tapper asserted. In the next sentence he described the troop reinforcement as a plan that "relies on training Afghan forces"—an activity that is quintessential to nation building.

ABC's Tapper explained: while the Pentagon will focus on training a national security force, the United States' development aid effort will not be national. Instead of funds being spent on President Hamid Karzai's central government, "much of it will go to the provincial and district level and to specific ministries…If Karzai continues to run a government that is full of corruption and fails to provide basic services he may find himself out of the loop altogether."

So we shall see province building not nation building.

Chuck Todd, NBC's man at the White House, was similarly confusing. He asserted that the troops' mission—"to dismantle and destroy al-Qaeda and to prevent the Taliban from creating a safe haven in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region"—remains unchanged. Yet Todd pointed out that President Obama had doubled the US military presence inside Afghanistan proper in the past ten months, not in the border zone where al-Qaeda is based. On the contrary, CBS' David Martin noted from the Pentagon that the first of the additional troops would be deployed "into the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan."


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.