Saturday, January 28, 2006

An Open Letter to Arianna Huffington

Now I normally don't let the simpering drivel of the left wing bother me too much, but a column regarding the stability of Afghanistan by Arianna Huffington showed up in Stars and Stripes the other day and it is so far off the mark that it demands a response.  So I hope you will indulge my politicizing this blog for a post.


Dear Ms. Huffington,


Ms. Huffington, your January 9th column is not only grossly misleading, it is irresponsible.  Clearly relying on skewed and second-hand information it draws false conclusions to support your myopic political perspectives.


While it’s true that there are severe problems with Afghanistan’s infrastructure to include severe electrical shortages and a sputtering economy, these are problems that pre-dated the toppling of the Taliban and all these problems are exceptionally less severe now than they were then.


You indicate that Sen. Hagel is courageous his criticism of the president, the courage of which escapes me since it seems to be the national pastime, but he lends nothing to support his claim that Iraq is “sucking the oxygen out of [Afghanistan]”.  In the past year that I have been in Afghanistan I have never been short the resources required to accomplish the mission at hand and certainly have never been told, “Sorry, you can’t have that, we need it for Iraq”.  Just because the media and hence the American population as a whole may have lost focus on Afghanistan, doesn’t mean the military has and to make people believe that is the case is irresponsible at best.


Ironically, in the same paragraph that you accuse the president of a “numerical cavalcade” you yourself skew the casualty numbers beyond recognition when you claims nearly 100 U.S service members lost to the Taliban led insurgency.  First, while there were 99 U.S. service members lost in Afghanistan in 2005, 33 of them were due to non-hostile related causes. ( )  Of the 66 who died as a result of hostility, at least 30 were in eastern Afghanistan in or near the Kunar province region.  This is important because it points out the ignorance of your professed knowledge of the Afghanistan conflict.  The Taliban is a fanatical organization based on Muslim Extremism.  It is, however, a culturally significant portion of the Afghan population and as such is, in part and parcel, being offered a piece of the political restructuring of this country much as the Sunni muslims are in Iraq.  Violence at the hands of the Taliban is historically centered around their religious center of gravity in the Kandahar region in Southern Afghanistan.  The vast majority of the hostility in the Eastern Afghanistan is at the hands of foreign fighters.  These are not insurgents, they are terrorists who infiltrate this coutry from across the Pakistan border.  There is a vast difference.


Your tirade on the reduction of both aid and troops to Afghanistan is anathema to your attempted conclusion of a faltering U.S.policy here.  The number of troops in Afghanistan is dropping because responsibility is being handed over to the NATO led ISAF.  50% of the country is already under ISAF control and within a few months it will be 75%.  Of course the amount of aid is being decreased, it is inversely proportionate to the international community’s increase in support.  Walk down the street at Bagram Airfield or sit in any one of the dining facilities and you will see French, German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Polish, Romanian, Slovakian, and Korean troops as well as those from a host of other countries.  The Chinese are rebuilding roads to the east, the Germans have control of the northern regions,Jordan still runs a hospital in the north, Spain and Italy have control in the west, and Canadians will soon be moving into the south. This is what it looks like when the job is nearing completion and is being handed over.


It sounds, Ms Huffington, as though is disappointed that we are completing the mission here and getting out since you will have less ammunition to sling at the Bush Administration.  Glad to disappoint.


I am similarly confounded by your lambasting of the President for taking a “hands-off” approach to the alleged drug kingpins in the recently elected parliament.  I can only ask what you would have written if the Bush Administration had directed the removal of duly elected Afghan members of parliament in the first free election in more than 30 years.    It is not a surprise to me that your cited source of information is Newsweek, the same publication that caused riots across this country and were responsible for 16 civilian deaths with their flawed story on the desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay.  Remember, these are the people who have unbridled access to the Taliban leadership and will not share their information with the military because they are journalists before they are Americans.


Of all the mis-statements and half-truths in this column though, the thing that is most indicative of your flawed perspective is the last sentence.  Let me see if I understand this.  If we keep troops in a combat zone we are in a quagmire, an unwinnable war.  If we pull troops out, we are cutting and running.  Make up your mind, you can’t have it both ways.  How about this: we keep troops in the combat zone until they are no longer required and then pull them out as their mission is completed.


Afghanistan is a success story Ms. Huffington.  Do the research next time before you try to spin something that clearly doesn’t have the legs to reach your objective.



Wild Thing said...

Well said, love your letter!

Beth* A. said...

BRAVO! (clap, clap, clap) You may 'disappoint' her, but you never disappoint us!

Chauncey said...

This is fantastic!