Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TV Panels Mean Much is Left Unsaid: Afghanistan Edition

Dale Smith teased me a bit after my appearance on Power and Politics today that I had much more to say.   Maybe, maybe not.  I said much at the Globe and Mail, on various radio programs and here at the Spew.  The challenge is that we have little time to chat, and when the other guy says stuff, I often don't have the chance to respond.  Shuvaloy Majumdar is smart and sharp on this stuff with real policy experience (first time I met him), so I didn't disagree with what he said, but perhaps with his optimism.  I guess the key things I wanted to say or respond to are:
  • Afghanistan is not as remarkably progressed as Shuvaloy suggests--the last election was a shitshow (we don't know who got how many votes), the resulting ad hoc coalition is not working out so well, and the messed up institutions we implanted way back in 2002 still screw stuff up. So, I took exception to the idea that it is all about Pakistan.  Corruption and warlordism are also just a wee bit problematic
  • The Taliban is not simply = Pakistan.  The Taliban may be agents of Pakistan's intel agency, but heaps of principal-agent problems here.
  • Pakistan's observer status at NATO is just a trifle--something that they don't care much about.
  • That Shuvaloy's things that Canada and NATO could do are all things that fall far below any threshold of counting as much in the eyes of Trump.  It is about troops on the ground and maybe money.
  • That assertions about other partners--the Emiratis, the Russians, the Chinese--are about wishes and not realities.  Nobody is going to rescue the US from this war.  Some might put pressure on Pakistan, but Pakistan is used to pressure and will continue to be America's worst or second worst ally.
My best move was to trash Tillerson before the cameras went on, so that Rosemary Barton put some skepticism in her voice when mentioning him. 

Anyhow, TV is fun, traffic is not, getting soaked in a downpour not fun in a suit.  But an interesting media day today: four radio programs, one op-ed, and one TV hit.

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