November 11, 2008
Straws in the Wind: Murdoch
If your neck got turned around watching “Fox and Friends” on the Fox “News” Channel almost immediately following the Obama victory, you are likely not alone. I can’t say that they did a 180-degree turn, but they went at least 90 degrees, at least in what I saw. No more Ayers/Rezko/Wright 24/7. All of a sudden they were doing three things. The President-elect was being treated with a modicum of respect. They were back to spending lots of time on “schoolgirl gets dumped from school bus two miles from home” stories. The “anti-Democrat Party” red meat that they regularly feed their loyal listeners (such as the soon-to-be-former Vice President) came in smaller amounts and was hardly so red anymore.
Why, one might ask? Since, in the New York City area at least, there was a similar change in tone at the F “N” C’s sister organ, the New York Post, it is fair to surmise that the hand of the uber-owner of both, Rupert Murdoch, was reaching down the chain of command. Murdoch knows the political climate has changed in Washington, possibly for some time to come. For a variety of reasons (primarily related to his hopes for the reinvigoration of American capitalism that could come only with the election of Barack Obama, not with John McCain), he would like to be on good terms with the new administration. And hey, if Mr. Murdoch can be on friendly terms with real Communists (or at least people who call themselves Communists) in China, how can he not get round to being on good terms with good capitalists (even if some of his minions label them as reds — they’re not) right here in the US of A.
Palin on Africa
So as far as we know, Gov. Palin really didn’t know that Africa is a continent, not a country, and she really couldn’t name off the top of her head the three countries that are parties to NAFTA. Her denials about the leaked reports of her intellectual inadequacies were made in general, not specific terms. Isn’t just awful that the Republican candidate for the vice presidency has such an abysmal level of general knowledge, especially when it comes to geography? (At least she knew the big country on the other side of the Bering Strait — you can’t actually see the mainland — is Russia.) But let’s stop for a moment to reflect that one candidate for the Republican nomination, Gov. Mike Huckabee, couldn’t exactly place Afghanistan, and that the Republican Presidential candidate for the presidency at one time said that Iraq and Afghanistan bordered on each other. So let’s not be too hard on Palin. Her past running mate and a possible future one don’t do too well on geography either. Perhaps that’s just a modern Republican-candidate trait.
Obama and Afghanistan
We hear things are getting worse and worse in Afghanistan. A recent National Intelligence Estimate (AP/Yahoo! News, Oct. 9, 2008) concluded that it is heading for a “downward spiral.” During the presidential campaign, President-elect Obama said on numerous occasions that he would “send more troops” to Afghanistan and would “do something about Pakistan.” Whether this was real, well thought-out policy or more of a cojones show for the crowd and the Republican Scream Machine we don’t know. However, we do know that one of Obama’s principal foreign policy advisors is Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a foreign policy anti-Soviet hard-liner who was President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor.
The Afghan/Soviet battle of the 1980s was not “Charlie Wilson’s War” from the outset although it became that later, under Reagan, a convenient way to make sure that there was no apparent link between the Reaganite policy and Carter’s (which were actually the same). In 1978, a communist-led coup had overthrown the Afghan monarchy. Soviet assistance to native, especially anti-British, forces in the country dated back to the early days of the USSR. Thus they moved quickly to support the new government, but there was significant resistance to it in various parts of the country. By 1979, the Afghan government was requesting Soviet military aid, in progressively larger amounts. U.S. support for the anti-Soviet resistance began during this time. It was recommended to President Carter by none other than Dr. Brzezinski, who correctly predicted that if the resistance were maintained, Afghanistan would eventually become the “Soviet Union’s Viet Nam.” That it did was a major factor in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.
One wonders what Dr. Brzezinski is advising Pres.-elect Obama to do about Afghanistan. Let’s hope that it is not to do what the Senator said he would do, during the campaign. Otherwise, sure as shootin’, Afghanistan will become Obama’s Iraq. Within the past month, the Taliban have proposed peace talks with the NATO forces currently fighting in their country. They offered up front, as part of a deal, to cut their ties to al-Qaeda. To be effective, such an agreement would have to enforceable, but that could likely be worked out. Such an agreement would surely make it much easier to come to an agreement with Pakistan for how to go about stabilizing their Northwest Frontier. The President-elect will have to move in this direction just as soon as he firms up an agreement with the Iraqis for the complete withdrawal of American forces in that country. If he does not, and falls into the former “Brzezinski Trap” in Afghanistan just as the Soviet Union did, the irony of such a happening would be the least of its long-term negative outcomes.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for BuzzFlash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/.