Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Motivates Them?

Something like 100% of the punditry and blogosphere is fueled by folks' opinions about what makes the world tick. Minus the certainty that we're right and everyone else is wrong, what would there be to pontificate about?

The Economist this week takes a long hard look at Afghanistan. The most notable passage, to my mind, was this:
Even gauging what sort of progress Kandaharis want is not easy. Opinion polls in Afghanistan unsurprisingly point to Afghan unhappiness with insecurity, corruption and lack of economic opportunity. But nobody knows the degree to which these things drive them to the Taliban, or what sort of progress might win them to the government. Asked what NATO really understands about Afghan wants and fears, a senior adviser to General McChrystal says: “I think we know we don’t know much, though it’s not for lack of trying.”
Of course, we now know what happens when the military faces the punditry.


Anonymous said...

I think this comes pretty close to presenting the leaders how they really are and which makes me admire the power of imagination the pundits bring to their job (via LizsWelt - May Latma be very very successful

They call it the Muslim War Council - I hope to remember it as "in the Bunker" (Downfall)



Anonymous said...

here is my first voice that reporters realize that Rolling Stone have smashed something vital, trust and Hastings insults his colleagues freely, he as the lone warrior - could it be that the Hastings, the flies on the walls, of this world are so much into "everything's gotta be funny" that they don't recognize even something as serious as responsibility for life and limb of people?

Here's first what Michael Hastings said:

"I did not expect the fallout that occurred. In fact, I didn't even think that it was possible for General McChrystal to even get fired."
"That what makes fly-on-the-wall journalism so wonderful to read."

NO Mr. Hastings there you are wrong, now that you have opened my eyes to what you were doing, i.e. not transferring McChrystal's signals but spying on him, betraying him, all this key-hole-stuff will have become disgusting and despicable
... and of course he operated on a principle, his kind of betraying trust is squishy clean, honourable and professional.

"I mean, in fly-on-the-wall journalism, you're there to capture exactly those kinds of moments."

and here is LARA LOGAN, CBS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (the first to protest? but there is also a story going on that news outlets betrayed Rolling Stone's trust by publishing their piece before they themselves had planned to and even could - the betrayer has been betrayed story?)

"Well, it really depends on the circumstances. It's hard to know -- Michael Hastings, if you believe him, says that there were no ground rules laid out. And, I mean, that just doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, because if you look at the people around General McChrystal, if you look at his history, he was the Joint Special Operations commander. He has a history of not interacting with the media at all.
And his chief of intelligence, Mike Flynn, is the same. I mean, I know these people. They never let their guard down like that.
To me, something doesn't add up here. I just -- I don't believe it. "

"And what I find is the most telling thing about what Michael Hastings said in your interview is that he talked about his manner as pretending to build an illusion of trust and, you know, he's laid out there what his game is. That is exactly the kind of damaging type of attitude that makes it difficult for reporters who are genuine about what they do, who don't -- I don't go around in my personal life pretending to be one thing and then being something else. I mean, I find it egregious that anyone would do that in their professional life."



Anonymous said...

Max Fisher argues that Hastings' actions will closedown an important channel of information:


The phrase, "reporting helped generate public outrage, which Democrats and others used to pressure the White House to make much-needed changes of leadership and strategy" seems to be a slight rewriting of history as many Democrats were opposed to the surge, but the basic argument seems sound. Although it's open to abuse, there are times when the public needs to know if there is a serious disconnect between the official line and reality. Even during wartime.

Anonymous said...

on the one hand on the other hand is the big motivating mantra of today ...



thanks Sergio for giving me that one


4infidels said...

What the heck kind of war is fought worrying about what the enemy population wants? If there is a serious national security threat to the US and its allies, destroy that threat. If not, stop wasting lives and resources.

Does anyone with half-a-brain really think that this "hearts-and-minds" campaign is capable of bringing Afghans security, economic opportunity and a government relatively free of corruption? And if Afghans actually want those things, does anyone really think that the Afghan perception of those things is the same as that of wealthy Westerners?

As to what the good men want in Kandahar...they want to have sex with little boys and little girls. What do the women of Kandahar want? We will never know as those same men won't let us ask them.

There is no reason for one American, or one Afghani non-combatant, to die so that NATO can prop up the Islamic central government of a non-functioning, corrupt, non-state.

4infidels said...

I believe what drives the locals to the Taliban is pretty darn simple: siding with the Taliban makes it less likely that an individual, family or village will be killed by the Taliban and/or more likely that they will be protected against rival families, clans and ethnic groups. And in a collectivist, tribal society, if the local warlord throws in his lot with the Taliban, what serious choice does anyone else in that same village really have? An individual, outside his or her family, tribe and clan, has no means of protection or food or finding work or finding a mate or marrying off their offspring. I just don't think that a solid, well-functioning central government factors in to the day-to-day decision-making process of most Afghans, even those who are literate and are able to follow such things.

Anonymous said...

maybe something a bit different is going on and the humanitarian angle is only enhanced to make us, the public, more compliant - not that populations may not profit in the end, but this looks more like a credible picture to me, no wonder they are all wobbling all over and the Saudi King proclaims in Paris that neither Iran nor Israel deserve to exist http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2010/06/saudi-king-israel-and-iran-do-not.html

"Iran is Surrounded by US Troops in 10 Countries"

it is more and more beginning to look like way too interesting for my taste and they seem all way too nervous for me to be comfortable