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Questioning War Claims: The GR Press, Afghanistan & Obama

November 28, 2009

Yesterday, the Grand Rapids Press published another Associated Press article about President Barack Obama’s upcoming announcement to send more US troops to Afghanistan. 

The article states up front that the President will announce on Tuesday to a national audience his intention to increase US troop numbers in Afghanistan by as many as 35,000, according to military officials who spoke with the AP reporter on condition of anonymity.

The article then says, “Polls show support for the war has dropped significantly since Obama took office, with a majority now saying both that they oppose the war and that it is not worth fighting.” The AP story does not source any recent data to support such a claim. There have been recent polls that shows less public support for the war in Afghanistan, such as an August 20 Washington Post poll or September 15 poll from CNN. However, a recent (Nov. 12) Gallup poll shows the country to be quite divided on sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Much of the rest of the article is devoted to how Democrats and Republicans will respond. The AP story makes the claim that, “Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have been blunt in saying Congress has little stomach for a large troop increase and flagging confidence in the U.S.-backed Afghan government the war effort is meant to support.” While Pelosi and others may have made these comments, the real test of support is whether or not these Democratic leaders have voted in favor of financial support for the war in Afghanistan or for the troop increases last Spring. Also not mentioned was the concrete opposition by Rep. Barbara Lee whose bill calls for cutting off funds for the troop escalation and Rep. Jim McGovern’s resolution calling for the administration to offer an exit strategy.

The AP article concludes with two points that are also not verified. The first is a comment from White House Press Secretary Gibbs who says, “We are not going to be there another eight or nine years.” There is no follow-up, nor any context for such a statement. The AP reporter could have asked, “if the US has no plans to be there for a long time, why are they building permanent military bases in Afghanistan?” The reporter also could have asked about the number of private US military contractors in Afghanistan or the recent construction of a 1,000-plus prison the US has built there.

The other unverified statement was from the AP reporter, which claimed, “Incompetence and corruption have aided a rise in the Taliban’s strength.” While it is true that there has been significant corruption in the Karzai regime, the article fails to mention that the US has until the recent election fraud backed the corrupt Afghani leader. The closing comment also fails to acknowledge that in addition to corruption giving aid to the Taliban’s strength so has the US/NATO occupation, which according to some sources is the number one reason for Afghans joining the Taliban.

Unfortunately for Press readers, this article, like much of what we have documented, gives both a limited and slanted view of US policy in Afghanistan.

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