Every week CUIP's president Jacqueline Salit and strategist/philosopher Fred Newman watch the political talk shows and discuss them. Here are excerpts from their dialogues compiled on Sunday, August 2, 2009 after watching selections from "Hardball with Chris Matthews," "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" and several Charlie Rose interviews.
Newman: There are so many definitional questions to be asked here, that it makes approaching the question very, very difficult. What you said is correct. The objective is to make it less of a terrorist base from which to target both the region and the world. But the cultural assumptions embedded in the approach can get you into trouble. Those assumptions might not bear any relationship to how the Taliban, or Al Qaeda, or ordinary Afghans look at this situation. Take the notion of "nation building." Well, the insurgents probably say: We already have a nation. This is our kind of nation. What you mean by a nation is having democratic elections, the outcome of which favor Washington, DC. That's not our definition of a nation. Arguably, this is them being realistic. It's them saying:This is what we have. Force has always played a major role in who controls the land. And land is the primary source of wealth and power. Throw in the religious traditions and the long history of resisting any kind of centralized rule, and the bottom line is that you can't relate to this situation as if it were Painesville, Ohio. This is not Painesville, Ohio. This is so far from being Painesville, Ohio that even the talk about nation building comes off sounding comic.
Salit: I imagine our military leaders feel the same way.