What Fareed Zakaria gets wrong about Afghanistan: Everything


CNN’s Fareed Zakaria PHOTO/Detroit Regional Chamber/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Since when does a (mostly) respected press pundit sound just like an army general? Well, for a while now, in fact. Politicians and reporters will argue viciously about all kinds of issues: immigration, healthcare, race, et al. There’s only one sacred cow that mainstream insiders – both “left” and right – dare not challenge: the runaway Pentagon budget and America’s forever wars.

So it was, this Sunday morning, lounging in my hotel room in Spokane – I was in town for the national Veterans for Peace convention – that I happened to watch CNN’s Fareed Zakaria drone on about the supposed risks of “prematurely” (after 18 years?!?) pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Fareed is, indeed, eloquent, and his soothing voice and calm demeanor seem to lend authority to his show’s opening monologue. Yet his argument was ridiculous. Here he was parading out all the old tired arguments about why its supposedly too dangerous to end America’s military commitment: Al Qaeda will come back; There’ll be another 9/11; Afghan women will suffer under Taliban rule, and on and on.

I knew I’d heard it all before, but there was something about Fareed’s impromptu lecture that seemed more familiar than usual. Then it hit me – I’d just read all these talking points. And the author? You guessed it: retired General (and disgraced former CIA Director) David Petraeus. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Petraeus chimed in with his usual scare tactics to enable all he knows: perpetual war. Zakaria and Petraeus, on the surface the two men couldn’t be any more different. Yet the pundit seemed to have lifted all his talking points from the general’s standard playbook.

This ought to concern us all. Zakaria’s apologism and justification to extend America’s longest war demonstrates, rather disturbingly, just how firmly entrenched the US military-industrial complex and warfare state has become. No one on the mainstream cable news stations, even on “liberal” MSNBC, seriously challenges the very logic, and premise, of not only the war in Afghanistan, but American forever war, writ large.

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