After seven silent weeks, Gen. David Petraeus begins aggressive messaging on Afghanistan: David Gregory announced yesterday that he will broadcast “Meet the Press” from Kabul next Sunday, with Petraeus’ first U.S. interview since he took command in Afghanistan. That will launch a spate of appearances that are being spread out over three weeks so Americans will be more likely to hear his message, even during the August doldrums. This week, Petraeus will begin communicating with the Afghan people. Then after “Meet,” the general will do the BBC later that week. The following week, Petraeus has sit-downs with “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric, then Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, who’s returning from breast-cancer treatment. At month’s end, George Stephanopoulos will take “Good Morning America” on the road to see the general. Major U.S. and European print and radio outlets will be sprinkled in. Then in the weeks that follow, the general plans to keep up a strong battle rhythm of engaging with the media and making his case.
But Petraeus isn’t the only one doing propaganda duty for the White House. Last week, Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was on Meet the Press pushing the war policy. Check out this heart-breaking exchange [emphasis mine]:
MR. GREGORY: But true or untrue, the big fear is that Pakistan’s working against us and not with us?
ADM. MULLEN: In many ways, Pakistan is working with us. I mean, their, their military, their intelligence agency. I mean, we’ve got a very strong relationship in the positive sense with, with their intelligence agency. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some challenges with some aspects of it.
MR. GREGORY: They are actively supporting elements killing U.S. soldiers.
ADM. MULLEN: But they have, they have shared intelligence with us, they’ve killed as many or more terrorists as anybody, they’ve captured them. And certainly, the, the focus on changing the strategic shift, if you will, in that agency so that that doesn’t happen at all, is a priority for us.
I’m from Iowa, with a very large contingent of national guard forces deployed for 3rd or 4th tours. This has placed tremendous strain on the military for years, and our readiness to respond to other crises is somewhat limited because of our engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s time to start drawing down both efforts.[…]
In my district, folks are very concerned about the safety and security of troops, and they believe in strong national security. The folks serving include neighbors and family members. Iowa has strong history of support for service to our country through the armed forces. I respect the sacrifice such individuals make.
She then talked about the deep cost on veteran families due to the war, saying, “The emotional and physical trauma that we’ve seen from this war is really just the tip of the iceberg. I’m very concerned as to the emotional and physical state of these folks coming home.” She also said that when she talks to people in her state about her stance, she gets a lot of respect: “People say, ‘I appreciate your stance, I appreciate you talking about it, I appreciate that you’re looking at more than just the headlines.”
First, across the country, districts like this carry the burden of the war in a visceral way. When I’m in a room, I ask folks if they are veterans or if they’re related to people currently serving – it’s almost the entire room. So, on a very personal level, these people are asking, “What are we accomplishing over there?” A lot of families ask their own family members that are over there this question.
And it’s not just about the sacrifices they’re making in the war, our troops are also in danger when they come home.
Washington – The suicide rate in the US army now exceeds the rate across the US as a whole, with an increasing number of active duty soldiers taking their lives due to stress, according to a in-depth army study into the effect of nine years of war on its troops.
If deaths associated with high-risk behaviours – including drink-driving and drug overdoses – are taken into account, more soldiers are dying by their own hand than in combat, the report found.
Enough with the CIA-inspired TIME magazine covers and these glitzy wall-to-wall propaganda tours. It’s time we started listening to the folks who’ve shouldered the biggest burden in this war, the military itself. Pay attention to what they’re saying: