Monday, September 28, 2009

Battle for "hearts and minds" already lost

One of the most alarming and revealing statements in this Washington Post article on General McChrsytal's request for more troops for the futile war in Afghanistan was this:

McChrystal wants to change the goal of public relations efforts in Afghanistan from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence' " in themselves and their government. At the same time, he said, more effort should be made to "discredit and diminish insurgents and their extremist allies' capability to influence attitudes and behavior in Afghanistan."

Wait a second. So the General is saying, forget "hearts and minds". That battle is lost. Let's launch another one to gain "trust and confidence"? To this good general the whole exercise is merely a "public relations" campaign, as in marketing a new brand of underwear?

How could the Afghan people entrust you with confidence if they are willing to side with you with their hearts and minds? Does the good general understand the meanings of those words? You can get someone to trust you and with confidence if you had not won over her hearts and minds?

The full Post report is here.

It breaks one's heart to read it.

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