I have to admit that since watching Afghanistan Commander General Stanley McChrystal‘s mesmerizing interview on 60 Minutes, I have made time nearly every day to get back in shape and do some running. He is impressive on many levels — and wrote in his leaked analysis of America’s challenges in Afghanistan one of the very best treatments I have seen, steely-eyed in the bleakness of circumstances there.
I am also impressed today that he is going on Al Jazeera English’s Riz Khan Show live at 3:30 pm EST. Riz will be feeding live questions to General McChrystal as well. I was invited to join as an observer today at the studio but am on the wrong side of the Chesapeake Bay to make that practical.
While I disagree pretty substantially with McChrystal’s — and now President Obama’s — prescriptions for the Afghanistan quagmire, I think that it’s excellent that he’s reaching out broadly to varied audiences.
Next time he puts a war plan together for Afghanistan though, he should include people less surge-happy than Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, who were the primary sculptors of the Iraq surge. If he wanted some tilting his direction, then the general should consider my colleagues Steve Coll, author of the book on the subject — Ghost Wars, or al Qaeda-tracking Peter Bergen. For those on the skeptic side, I am sure that Flynt Leverett, Andrew Bacevich, Paul Pillar, Stephen Walt, or I would be happy to give him some straight, contrarian counsel.
Bravo to General McChrystal though for reaching out to Al Jazeera.
This shows a substantial shift in the Obama administration’s direction in dealing with Arab media.
I won’t forget when one day I was at the Democratic National Convention about to do a spot with Al Jazeera English which was co-habiting a booth with a local Fox affiliate when then DNC Chairman Howard Dean walked in to do an interview that had been arranged by his staff and when he saw the Al Jazeera signage said, “Hey, wait, I can’t do this!” . . .and then tore out of the berth overlooking the convention floor.
Very glad we are getting passed the era of not talking to the part of the world we are spending a lot of time messing with.
– Steve Clemons