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US Media and Afghan War
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October 17, 2010

Reese Erlich: We’re not getting coverage because it’s not going well
The US military is fighting more than just the Taliban in it’s current counterinsurgency campaign in Kandahar, said journalist and author of Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, Reese Erlich. In an interview with The Real News, Erlich said the US military is receiving resistance from the local people as well as supposed ally, the Pakistani government.

He said waging a counterinsurgency requires the political support of the local people, but civilian casualties, and corruption within those positioned to replace Taliban authorities, have turned the public in Kandahar against the American military.

“It turns out you can't wage a war, a counterinsurgency, an occupation, without alienating the people,” said Erlich. “One, when you wage a counterinsurgency war, you end up killing a lot of civilians. And two, the people who you bring in to run the local police, the local administrators, are corrupt, and in many cases drug dealers who are using the government offices for their own economic benefit. And so, as bad as the Taliban is - and they are genuinely hated in Afghanistan - the Karzai government and the US are seen as even worse.”

Erlich told TRNN that Pakistan has closed their border to slow American supply trucks headed for Kandahar in retaliation to American assaults aimed at Taliban in the country.

“Americans are unaware of it, but the US is waging a war in Pakistan, supposedly our ally. There are acknowledged 250 US troops in plainclothes inside Pakistan. There is an undisclosed number of private security contractors loading the drones that are being used to attack. It's admitted that the drone attacks against supposed terrorist targets in Pakistan have increased many, many times. And the most recent incident was a US or NATO helicopter flew into Pakistan and shot up a Pakistani military post and killed three soldiers and wounded others.”

Last week the Taliban attacked US-NATO fuel supply tankers as they crossed through Pakistan. Erlich said the lack of support from Pakistan’s government is likely causing more damage than just delaying reinforcements.

“And I'm sure they've contacted their allies among the conservative forces [in Pakistan], the Taliban and others, and said, we're going to look the other way if you attack. And sure enough, there have been - dozens of trucks have been set on fire, some people have been killed. It's a real mess.”

Senior Editor of The Real New, Paul Jay, said the US could procure favour by sending aid to the flood-devastated regions of Pakistan.

“Yeah, if this was any other country, other than Pakistan, you would see massive daily coverage of movie stars going over to help the poor Pakistanis, and US planes unloading supplies, etc. But because of the political differences right now between the US and Pakistan, the US is not contributing that big of an aid effort.”

Erlich said that when the US leaves Afghanistan, it intends to leave a pro-US government behind, which would benefit India. He said Pakistan is currently doing what it can “to make sure that some of the insurgent groups that they help, and they finance, and they support will come to power to eliminate the influence of the Indians, which has grown under the US occupation.”

Media coverage of this insurgency has been much more sparse than in the past. Erlich said this is likely because US military knows how difficult this campaign will be.

“I think one of the reasons we're not getting a lot of coverage of it is because it's not going so well,” he said. “Kandahar is going to be a much more difficult situation. They're hoping, I suspect, to win some victories, or claim to be able to have won some victories, and then announce it to the press.”

Bio: Reese Erlich is a best-selling book author and freelance journalist who writes regularly for the Dallas Morning News, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio and National Public Radio. He has won numerous journalism awards, including the prestigious Peabody (shared with others). He is the author of several books, and is currently touring across the country promoting his most recent one called: Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire, published in September 2010. You can find Reese’s tour dates on his website

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