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Wider U.S. Strikes in Pakistan? Plus, Chris Hedges on Peace

U.S. commanders consider expanding operations in Pakistan, some sources say. What would that mean? Plus, we hear a call for peace.

U.S. servicemen drink tea with an Afghan man near the Pakistani border in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan, Dec 20, 2010. (AP)

We’re talking war and peace today. 

On the war front, a high-profile report says senior U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are chomping at the bit to take the war into Pakistan, with U.S. Special Forces, on the ground, to go after Taliban and Al Qaeda safe havens. There are denials all round, but it is a red hot and arresting trial balloon. 

On the peace front, we talk with Chris Hedges, who last week took anti-war protest to the gates of the White House, where he and more than one hundred others were arrested. They’re not quitting. 

-Tom Ashbrook

Read the New York Times’ article, “U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan,” which touched off the debate.


Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist and best-selling author. His most recent book is “Descent Into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.”

Daniel Goure, vice president with the Lexington Institute, a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Arlington, VA. He worked for the Pentagon during the first Bush Administration.

Closing Segment:

Chris Hedges is a long-time, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent and now a writer and peace activist. He is a columnist for TruthDig.com. He was arrested recently in front of the White House as part of a demonstration against U.S. foreign policy and the current conflicts abroad. He joins us.

See Chris Hedges’ speech last week. And see images from the civil disobedience action in front of the White House by Veterans for Peace, where Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, and many others were arrested:

A protestor is carried away by police during a demonstration outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(AP Photo)

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  • Zeno

    Today’s menu – Bombing.
    I dunno’ perhaps operations in Cambodia (oops! wrong war same mindset)… perhaps operations in Pakistan will destabilize the area and empower a rise of various despotic regimes… But then military minds don’t learn from history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Menu

    This time it will work for sure.

  • Michael

    So the Pakistani tells the U.S. to stop sending drone across the border cause it’s killing civilians more than terrorist and is turning public opinion, so what does the U.S. do? there increase the drone attacks and cross border raids than wonder why the ISI and the Pakistani are not helping them as much..Can anyone say duh?

    Not to mention by some divine coincidences all the policies the military are making seem to consist of 5 to 10 years to complete and when it just happens to fail its really not failing but needs another X many years to work.

    Amazing right?

  • Michael

    “He worked for the Pentagon during the first Bush Administration.”

    Anytime you here these words get ready for a serving of crap with rarely few exceptions.

    We still have folks claiming the surge what even know if failed to accomplish the bench marks it was stated to have accomplish who wants to bet the majority of Americans either forgot or unaware of such? So what we get is a government lying to the public and statis and kowtowing media presenting such lies as facts. Remember we’re doing great in the wars but not so great things could change at a dime aka “where telling you we are doing good but reality is not looking so well and may have to tell you the truth sooner or later so be ready”


    The same bull will be feed about Pakistan while omitting the Pakistani beefs with the U.S.

    P.S. the 9/11 billed passed, sadly heard it first on WTKK and right-wing talk radio station before on NPR.

    Of course a good amount of republicans voted against it.

  • Pancke Rankin in NC

    Chris Hedges, now when was it people were going to start listening to this former war correspondent and cultural analyst? I, among a few, already have been.

    Pakistan is not like Cambodia or any other place we’ve ever been before. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a diverse population of more than 170 million.(Afghanistan has about 28 million, and we can’t handle the truth there!) It remains in a dynamic competition with nuclear armed India (one billion people). Look at a map, now what was Pakistan near again? And the MSM thinks North Korea is tricky!

    The United States is run by a pack of idiots for their own fun and profit. Our political system resembles that of Pakistan, but hopefully, say our business people it is moving toward the authoritarian capitalism of China. I would feel safer if Nixon and Kissinger were still roaring drunk and wrestling around the White House. Barack Obama is more in tune with te Oligarchy than Nixon, because he don’t wanna get tuned-up.

  • Jim from Kirby, VT

    No, No. Go for Iran – that’s where we’ll have some real jobs for Haliburton!

    Didn’t anyone listen to Eisenhower?

  • Xavier, Toronto, Canada

    This is a surprising development considering that recently CIA’s station chief had to get out of Pakistan hurriedly. Robert Baer recently highlighted the possible rifts between Pakistan’s ISI and CIA. Hence, how will the expanding of the Special Operations in Pakistan achieve the intended results without Pakistan’s full support and how will it playout among the populace with increased civilian casualities?

    Why is the Obama administration pursuing a military approach? Why not a hearts and minds approach to win the civilian population in Pakistan?

  • Sasha Pizdets

    Let’s get Hedges on with the chickenhawk! Let’s have a debate!

    By the way, Dr. Daniel Goure has a PhD in Russian Studies. I’d like to know why he thinks the Russians don’t have a moral right to fund the Taliban in Afghanistan now, like we did for them in the 80s. If you listen to jingoists and war propagandists* like him, they’re our enemy anyway.

    * On 9 June 2008 the Press-Register reported that almost all Lexington Institute funding came from the defense contractors whose products it frequently wrote in favor of.

  • SteveV

    We’re in a state of permanent war and the publics reaction? If you want to get the public involved in this discussion simply start the process to reinstate the draft. “Duck and cover” will take on a whole new meaning.

    SteveV in Swanton, Vt.

  • Lyle

    Suppose the Pakistani government, military, and ISI all wanted to eliminate the Taliban from Pakistan. How would they go about it? Is it even possible? If it is possible, what would be required and how long might it take?

  • Paolo Caruso

    Ground forces in Pakistan?? Did Dick Holbrooke come back to life?

    Or is this the economic miracle (ala FDR) the USA needs to revive (divert attention from)the coming second great depression.

  • Donna from NYS

    The Change we Hoped for in 2008 is gone; the war protesters who suspended their activities every Saturday in my town on Inauguration Day are back on station. Obama can run, but his escalation of the war in Afghanistan will not be forgotten.

  • Paolo Caruso

    “”Why is the Obama administration pursuing a military approach? Why not a hearts and minds approach to win the civilian population in Pakistan? “”

    Because Obama is a NOBEL PEACE PRIZE recipient of course.

  • Webb Nichols

    Roman Empire another name for the United States. The end is not far away.

  • Carolyn

    With your Khyber Pass comment, you said something about tankers being lost. Tom, did you forget about the people who were killed when the tankers were set ablaze?

    I came of age in the 70s. I was so naive that I believed the end of Viet Nam meant the end of wars.

  • Bob of Newton

    Remember Cambodia?

  • Zeno

    Next year will we will be discussing the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan…and if we should extend the war into Tajikistan which is offering safe harbor to the enemy?

    It will sound completely reasonable with the three wars going at full strength.

    “War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.” -George Orwell

    “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects…” -George Orwell

  • nancy

    Follow the Money!
    War on anyone means a HUGE influx of American CASH to our “Alleged Enemies”.
    Look beneath the surface!

  • Kyle

    If for no other reason, we should end this war for the purpose of balancing the budget. Why is this concept only understood by Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul?

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Everyone, DIS-invest in all the companies Chris Hedges is listing. They shouldn’t be profiting from this sort of thing. Send that sort of message.

  • Rick Evans

    On serving corporate interests don’t for get ObamaCare i.e. mandatory private health insurance.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Tom Ashbrook doubts Obama got money from Halliburton? Hedges says “it’s all bundling.” I read from local wealthy writers that when money talks (in campaigns), it talks to EVERYONE. They want PLENTY of money in the Democratic coffers JUST IN CASE one of them wins.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    I think Petraeus might have his hands on the throttle and actually know this and that. When you’re in a fast hand-to-hand fight, it’s hard to convey what’s going on. So. But I had hoped Richard Holbrooke had similar “hand-to-hand” knowledge of the in many ways equally hard-to-convey diplomatic fast-action. Now what…

  • Tricia Griffith

    Finally – the movement I have been waiting for. MORE! I want to hear more. Thank you, Thank you, Chris Hedges and Veterans for Peace. Let us know what we can do.

  • Marc

    It seems strange that Chris Hedges and the fella who called in from Veterans for Peace both make primarily economic arguments against the war rather than moral ones.

    Roslindale, MA

  • Citizen Jim

    I agree, politicians work for corporate America, not the American Citizens. They (politicians) are aggressively influenced by corporations through political campaign funds (now clandestine) and corporate lobbyists. Robert Reich explains it clearly in his book, “Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life”

  • http://zeitvox.com Citizen Zed

    Related note, while all the focus was on DADT and Health Benefits for 9/11 Responders. A $725 Billion Military Budget. What kind of debate amidst a financial crisis? What kind of coverage? It’s like nothing happened


  • http://WBUR Carla Trumper

    Mr. Hedges, thank you for saying out loud what I think and see everyday.
    You are a HERO.
    If the US were to implement the draft, this would not be, period.

  • Nick B.

    Heh “Um, ‘Christian’ says “Peace is not an option.”

  • millard_fillmore

    The Change we Hoped for in 2008 is gone; the war protesters who suspended their activities every Saturday in my town on Inauguration Day are back on station. Obama can run, but his escalation of the war in Afghanistan will not be forgotten.
    Posted by Donna from NYS


    During the debates in the run-up to 2008 Presidential elections, Obama very clearly and unambiguously mentioned what was wrong with the Bush policy and what he would do if he won, i.e. he would end the war in Iraq and re-focus on Afghanistan.

    For all you anti-war peace-lovers, if you voted for Obama, you either had cotton wool stuffed in your ears, or were too dazzled by the rhetoric of meaningless and Rorschach-like “Hope and Change” slogan to actually listen to what Obama said.

    The egg is on your face for voting for him, and please don’t come back with the pusillanimous rationalization of “lesser evil.”

  • Raul de Brigard

    Some points
    1) We have the most powerful military in the world. However we lose any “war” that is a lomg haul because we always require immediate results and no ability to stick to it,

    2) We cannot afford to let Afghanistan revert to a haven for terrorists. By the same token those who say our actions in the Middle East inflame the middle east and do more harm than good are right. So we need to approach this war in a way that can be sustained over the long haul and is less inflammatory. I think the military understands this.

  • Wool

    Even conservative cable and talk radio have all but stopped using the war to build their “patriotic” presence.

    Having been through Vietnam, I think the draft had a lot to do with ending that war. It made us players in that war rather than observers in todays war.

    And why has no one come forth and pointed the finger at the both Bush administration for bringing us to this war with lies. Thousands dead, thousand who will not be with family ion Christmas – it hurts the heart.

  • Zeno

    “For all you anti-war peace-lovers…” -Posted by millard_fillmore


  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Hedges made it so clear. After 9/11, the Muslim world was appalled, asserted that bin Laden had no theological training that would allow him to be issuing fatwahs, named the World Trade Center and other attacks for what they were, atrocities.
    All the stars were aligned to reap huge advantages from that tragedy, in international cooperation and respect. What did we do?
    Is it possible for the Islamic world to undo the crimes perpetrated by a dozen terrorists in the American mind? (Don’t we hold Israelis to that standard when they are bombarded by Palestinians; saying Restraint! Restraint!?)
    More importantly, is it possible to undo the damage to our reputation for our military adventurism? Now wait. We might pull this rabbit out of the hat and leave Afghanistan looking like Switzerland, the purring watch of a peaceful state.
    How is that working for ya’ in Iraq?
    Could be worse, you say?

  • Ken

    Who is that guy on the cover? In local dress, head to toe, but carries what looks like a FN M240 GPMG. If it was a US Operator, he would most likely have a more functional footwear than the cheap sneaker that this guys is wearing. Neither A-stan or Pakistan are licensed users of the FN MAG….. so it’s a possibility that he is one of the local strike teams that are US trained…… but wouldn’t they use more deniable hardware like the RPK or PKM?

  • Dave Zox

    I must respond to some of the on-air comments regarding “taking the fight” to those who attacked us. I feel strongly that we, as a society cannot resort excluisively to the application of military power as the solution to security problems, threats of terrorist attack. I want to emphasize that dialogue, meeting and speaking face to face with people, who are in many ways just like us- they are someone’s children, they are parents of children- the power, the value the potential of people talking through problems and differences cannot be underestimmated…

  • Jonathan

    From Western Massachusetts.
    I agree with Chris Hedges on the Afghanistan War, that we have already lost. Turn toward an intelligence-based approach to terrorism, turn away from ineffective military violence, expose and outlaw the corporate domination of policy. We have so much opportunity to recreate a positive economy.

  • AJ North, Potsdam, NY

    After waging a devastating “war” on Iraq, we are firmly embroiled in Afghanistan, “The graveyard of empires;” now Pakistan with their nuclear arsenal beckons – all brought to us, and perpetuated by, a government of, by and for the corporations to which they are so beholden.

    If, as von Clausewitz said, war is diplomacy by other means, then terrorism is war by other means – and the very notion of a “superpower” becomes meaningless. Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address has been appropriately mentioned; then, too, there is Lincoln’s vision as articulated in his Gettysburg Address. Sadly, neither appear to inform either our fellow citizens or our “leaders” today. With the history we are writing, the whirlwind will be our ultimate prize.

  • Paolo Caruso

    “”With your Khyber Pass comment, you said something about tankers being lost. Tom, did you forget about the people who were killed when the tankers were set ablaze?””

    Carolyn, if you read the reports of these tanker hits in the Kyber Pass, you’ll notice there are very few driver deaths in relation to the number of vehicles. It is obvious to me that the insurgents are trying to make a point by giving the drivers the option to flee the vehicles. They could easily execute the drivers, but for some reason they are not. Unfortunately there are a few who may try to escape with their rigs and outrun an RPG.

  • PW

    Let’s have more references to the relationship between the defense industry and news production. A whole program please, Tom, analyzing the financial relationships between defense-related corporations and radio, network, satellite, and cable media.

    Until we get that straight and get it out there, we’ll continue to hear from many callers who really believe their opinions are independent and based on reality, and that their their support for war reflects their personal integrity.

    In fact their beliefs reveal dangerous naivete. American cable news consumers have been bought and sold so many times their minds are like mortgage paperwork blowing in the wind.

  • JacFlasche

    Hope is the lads that learned how to shoot humans in some other land, coming home and learning which humans deserve to be shot. Hope is someone knitting the names of the masters of the universe into her shawl. Hope is an army of lone snipers bringing the reality of what they have wrought, to the celebratory .4% and their toadies. Hope is blood running in the gutters of Wall Street. Hope is the strong who protect the rich realizing that they too will die. Hope is a gallows in front of Goldman Sachs and Magnetar. Hope is the Hamptons and Jupiter island burning. Hope is hunting the bastards down where ever they run.
    May you all have a wonderful holiday season that is full of hope.

  • TomK

    Pakistan? Wy not? Big Brother did say ” We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”

    I wonder if Orwell really thought his picture of perpetual war was going to come true?

  • Rechtsstaat

    Thanks God for Chris Hedges and Veterans for Peace. Let us know what we can do. Stop the idiocy in the White House, which fights endless wars for no purpose, which supports rogue states like Israel and Pakistan, which fails to stem the warmongering in S. Korea.

    Downsize the army, avoid bankruptcy, stop feeding the military-industrial complex, and concentrate on what is wrong in this country. The superpower is fast becoming a failed, bankrupt state; more military adventures, like continuing the war in Afghanistan and alienating Muslims around the globe, will only accelerate the process.

  • Nono

    Chris is on the right track with his “follow the money” logic. The root cause for almost all the problems in government is the system of financing of political campaigns. How can a politician truly act in the best interest of the people when there is a conflict with the interests his big corporate contributors?

    The corporate interests will always win out at the expense of the people.

  • Eva in Boston

    The US is the scariest, most arrogant country in the world. We do not belong in other people’s lands!!! Those wars are imperialistic and unwinable.

    All this war-mongering is putting our country in deadly danger of terrorist attacks (including a nuclear attack). I am furious at all those blind, brain-dead “hawks” who are playing with our national safety.

    Obama has been coopted by the crazy generals. EVERYTHING IS AT STAKE. People, wake up — we need to actively oppose this insanity.

  • Peter

    I am an Italian/Canadian who lived in Florida for over 10 years and I was there when 9/11 happened. It was a very sad day.
    All I want to say is to look back in history and look at the Arab countries how long they have been at war with each other and killing each other, (Thousands of Years). Before the USA, Canada and Associates went there, other countries were there, and they didn’t accomplish anything. What makes our Politicians believe that they can change the Arab’s way of living? All we are accomplishing is getting our soldiers killed and wasting millions of tax dollars. And for what? They will still be killing each other after we get out of there. One thing coming out of it, our war making businesses are making their best years and growing at our expense. This is a lost cause and we should have never gotten involved in it. Time to cut our losses and get out of there.

  • Matt

    Compare Hedges to Tom Friedman on this show the other day. The former writes and demonstrates the hard truth about the destructive nature of American foreign policy. Friedman makes cute phrases that say make war, but do it efficiently and judiciously. Friedman is applauded by the corporate media, while Hedges, Chomsky, etc. are basically ignored.

  • Richard Kranyum

    Looking at and reading all of the above,,there is not a
    Nay sayer among you,which when it all comes down to it,
    means that you are all preaching to each other.
    You do realize of course that when you put finger to key
    or lips to phone,every word written or spoken is or can
    be read by the very people you Damn.
    Two days after the Towers came down,i wrote an online
    article about the true culprits of this foul deed.
    Those lines were not the paranoid ravings of a
    conspiracy theorist (I’m actually a pessimistic optimist ) Although a lot of the content was supposition ,most
    of it was based on fact.What it came down to was a discussion on who would benefit most from this “Attack”
    on America.
    Two days after this,the article had been removed and i
    received the first of many “we’re watching you”messages
    (Now tell me i’m being Paranoid )
    If you want to spread the truth,just don’t send it to the Liars.
    There are those among you who still wallow in the mire of lies and deceit put out by the Cheney/Bush ($$$$$$)
    Machine.Although its been nearly 10 years on,we are
    still living and suffering their legacy.
    Here’s a quiz for you.
    What large oil rich country lies between A.stan and
    Open your eye’s America,deceit does not always wear
    a Turban.

  • a democrat

    Right on, Chriis Hedges every democrat I know is with you today on thuis. They all know the war economy is being fuel by the corporate oligarchy who continued to try and destabilization the Middle East topromote their own profits margins…

    Plus, this is really our big fight (the baby boomers) as many of those perpetruating this war machine are
    our peers…

    In addition, most college kids I know have no grasp of the war machine we are dealing with there but we do..

    So I say let’s bring this fight on and let’s expose the apologists in the Republican leadership who prop up this shadowy group of corporations on a bloated defense budget that has increased from 401 billion dollars in fiscal year 2006 to 768 billion in fiscal year 2010..

    Yet this rarely gets pointed out as the elephant in the room and we all need to change that focus around in order to dismantle the empire…..

  • a democrat

    It is too bad this protest didn’t appear in the Washington Post or the New York Times or even
    CNN and NPR -yet all those media outlets carried
    the hostile tea party members with much less peo-
    ple. Shame on them ! Little wonder why their sub-
    scribers are disappearing….

    Yet, this same lack of representation by the media
    to the left’s opposition to the War on Iraq is all
    too familiar…

    Still, I recall people saying how the influence of
    the opposition groups were spreading across America like fields of flowers for peace and it touched so
    many communities and helped turned the tide against
    the war on Iraq and Afganistan today…

  • Chris Taylor


  • Rao Amjad Ali

    Correction: Ahmed Rashid was in Lahore which is not the capital Pakistan, it is Islamabad

  • a democratic

    Obama’s raid and kill policy in Afghanistan against
    the Taliban–is a disgrace to our American democracy …

    Especially, when American forces are in the wrong oc-cupying afghan land in violation of their sovereign
    rights and international law…

    This evil policy must be continued to be opposed by
    all morally minded Americans….

    It violates the very principles of our democracy to
    due process and for Afghan to voice their grievances
    against American aggression on their native soil….

  • zack

    Chris Hedges is right – Obama and the Dems are actually part of the war party. Dems that support Obama for domestic reasons such as the so-called healthcare “reform” (actually more corporate welfare), have blood on their hands for absolving them of our wars abroad. Stop the wars, bring our troops home and investigate and prosecute war crimes even if it takes us all the way to the top. I cannot think of any greater justice than seeing Bush, Cheney, Obama and Biden hauled into court and forced to testify to their complicity in this fiasco. Seeing them rotting in prison upon conviction would also be most welcome.

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