McCain’s irresponsibly rosy outlook on Iraq, Afghanistan

That Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cavalierly quips about first-term presidential accomplishments is not only deeply disconcerting, but also morally irresponsible (article, “McCain vows unprecedented transparency,” May 15). Half-baked heroism has handily usurped the Straight Talk Express. The only unprecedented part of McCain’s presidential pitch is the level of delusion embedded in his benchmarking.

The senator projects that within four years the Iraq war will be won, the Taliban squashed, al Qaeda made homeless and troops sent home. To conjecture something so untenable is hardly the sign of an experienced, let alone responsible, leader.

McCain’s plans for Iraq and Afghanistan amount to more of the same. In Iraq, at this rate, Sunnis will be sufficiently stocked with American munitions and monies, while equipped with disdain for a centralized, and still exclusive, Shiite leadership. The walled neighborhoods in Baghdad only increase the divide. U.S. troops may be managing the violent conflict but doing little to prevent, transform or resolve the conflict. If McCain wants to quell the chaos, perhaps he should focus in his first term on the fact that 70 percent of Iraqis lack clean water, 80 percent are without effective sanitation, 90 percent of hospitals have no medical and surgical supplies, and nearly half are struggling in absolute poverty. One wonders what the McCain-endorsed surge is securing.

In Afghanistan, America’s misalignment is so monumental even Kabul is close to calling quits its Western alliance. From harsh drug-eradication methods that dump the disenfranchised farmer at the feet of the Taliban financier, to U.S. consultancy costs that reinvest millions back into Western, not Afghan, pockets, Kabul is up in arms. On narcotics, Afghanistan’s preferred approach is to focus on alternative livelihoods, institution-building (courts, judicial systems), trafficking and demand — not just supply. For a fruitful first-term finish, McCain must quickly account for Kabul’s concerns.

As long as McCain remains poised to carry President Bush’s torch into the violence-scorched earths of Iraq and Afghanistan, nothing new will emerge. It’ll merely be four years later, with us $400 billion poorer, with more of our forces fallen and a foe more formidable than before.

Arlington, Va.


White House vs. NBC

Look who’s talking

From Dietrich Nelson

(Regarding article, “White House takes swipe at NBC News,” May 19.) For nearly eight years I have been stunned by the Bush administration’s manipulation of everything from scientific information to the reasons for going to war. If anyone has criticized or questioned policy or individuals, the administration’s machine unleashes its forces to bully or discredit through smear campaigns. The latest example of this tactic is Ed Gillespie’s scathing letter to NBC News. In his letter he used such terms as “deceitful,” “misleading and irresponsible,” and lacking in “fairness and accuracy.”

News organizations and individuals no longer challenge or question the president’s actions. Because there is no longer a Fourth Estate we’ve become a complacent society and allowed the Bush administration to destroy America. To hear Gillespie use “deceitful” and “misleading and irresponsible” in his letter is mockery. In the interest of fairness and accuracy, these words should have been used by the Fourth Estate to describe the Bush administration since January 2001.

Los Angeles

Anti-Bush bias

From Vince Currie

I feel that NBC really should be careful in its obvious spin and control of the news to hurt the Bush administration. No matter what, President Bush is the president of our country and for nearly eight years NBC has reported only the negative stories and downplayed positive developments. This approach has been working for them (2006 congressional elections) and has helped them get Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) into the position of being the Democratic nominee.

NBC, once considered helpful, fair and balanced, has let its liberal staff and commentators become more interested in getting their Democrats in control than in providing good journalism. It’s a shame that GE lets them get away with this. Why would anyone want to watch his or her own president and country be condemned day after day, year after year? It’s also no wonder foreign countries have such and unfavorable opinion of us since they get their news from our news sources. Not good!

Atlanta