Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marja, Afghanistan Reality

Yes, three weeks have gone by since I could report on something completely enjoyable. Since writing that entry I have listened to many of the tracks on Live at the Black Door and have ordered Tony Whedon's book from Amazon. These pleasant interludes are always played against a darker background, the daily reports of an America that seems more and more dysfunctional at home, yet fully willing to wage war half a world away.

Therefore I enter my comment just submitted to the New York Times "At War" section - NYT must approve every entry so if you were to go to the NYT OnLine and then to At War (today a box shows down on the right hand side on the first web page) you might not see my comment. I enter it here to tell anyone who might read this that that person would be well advised to go to the NPR URL further down the page and listen to one of the few people I would trust to report from Afghanistan, NPRs Soray Sahaddi Nelson who speaks Farsi and Dari and is therefore far better qualified than most to know what is going on there.

Submitted as Comment to the NYT At War

The At War entries are essential reading and should be given Front Page position. This particular entry originally titled Who Are We Fighting in Marja (still the title seen on the first web page) now corrected to Who Is Fighting in Marja is important and, of course, leads many commentators to raise the question “Why Are American Military Fighting in Marja?”

I recommend that you who are reading Who is Fighting in Marja and my entry here go ASAP to the following URL

where you will be taken to both the transcript and the podcast of the gifted and brave Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson of NPR who reports in this podcast from her position as embedded reporter in Marja. You will hear her report on the death of a young Navajo American not long after the picture of him was taken that appears in this story.

Then you will hear something expressed by her that Barack Obama should have considered before he, Nobel Peace Prize winner, decided to become the War President in Afghanistan. Sarhaddi Nelson first corrects one military estimate that it will take 30 days “to clear” this area, stating that the estimates she heard from military officials were 60 to 90 days.

Then, much more important, she addresses the question “What exactly does ‘cleared’ mean?” She says that the supposedly cleared area is still occupied by IEDs in the ground – a few feet away – and by people – call them what you will – who are shooting from scattered locations within the cleared area. Call it \"cleared\" if you will but consider carefully what that might mean.

In short, what happens the day the military leave? I asked my Iraqi friends and my lone Afghani friend on Friday what they think. The Afghani said – leave now. Many others said that Barack Obama, who first gave them some hope, should never have made the decision to send the 30,000 even though it might well have meant he would be only a one-term president. I agree.

Larry Lundgren

Linkoeping Sweden - US citizen, however.

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