Interview with Michael Yon

posted at 8:48 am on September 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

I caught up with Michael Yon as he was in transit from Afghanistan to a free-lance investigative probe in Nepal, and got an update on the status of the Af-Pak theater.  It’s going “very poorly,” Yon says, and the coalition is “on the brink” of collapse.  This is a hundred-years war if we plan on winning it, but the decision has to be made.  The public vacillation has damaged our standing in Afghanistan with the locals and our coalition partners.

Yon also talks about the nature of the Taliban and their role in settling tribal disputes, especially with the Pashtun tribes.  What is the Taliban, after all?  Would 50,000 more troops actually be enough?  Don’t miss a minute of this interview — and don’t forget to contribute to Michael’s tipjar.  He maintains his ability to report from the front almost entirely on reader contributions.

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The Browns’ season is going poorly, so the coach is on the hot seat.

Afghanistan is going poorly, so….

Akzed on September 30, 2009 at 8:50 AM

So if the US withdraws then the fundamentalist, radical, anti-west Taliban will overrun Afghanistan (again), Al Queda will move back in their new training grounds (Bin Laden, too?).
Then there will be the surge of radical, anti-west Al Queda led Muslims back into Iraq (with the guidance of Iran).

And what will be Obama`s excuse for all the American lives lost and money wasted?
“Mission Accomplished”?

albill on September 30, 2009 at 8:58 AM

Doing the job most Americans won’t do…

digitalintrigue on September 30, 2009 at 9:02 AM

And what will be Obama`s excuse for all the American lives lost and money wasted?
“Mission Accomplished”?

albill on September 30, 2009 at 8:58 AM

He’ll say it’s Bush’s fault…

cmsinaz on September 30, 2009 at 9:03 AM

Yon is that rare and elusive breed: a real journalist. Applause!

ElectricPhase on September 30, 2009 at 9:05 AM

LATIMES
By Max Boot
May 13, 2009

President Obama and his aides continue to impress with their handling of Afghanistan. Not only have they approved a major troop increase and a de facto commitment to nation-building, but now they have shifted personnel to make the most effective use of the added resources and turn around a failing war effort.

Uh-oh. Somebody stepped in it.

You know, when you constantly cover for the bungling Obama, you end up with egg on your face just like him when the truth leaks out.

fogw on September 30, 2009 at 9:09 AM

Michael Yon is always two steps ahead of the lamestream when it comes to war reporting. He was the first to mention that Iraq was going poorly (the LSM naturally jumped on that pretty quick) and was the first to mention that Iraq had turned around.

Now he’s shouting from the rooftops that Afghanistan is going worse than the media is telling us (what a surprise, they can’t make THEIR President look bad), and he’s always spot on.

I don’t get worried when the media starts saying things are going badly. I get worried when Michael Yon tells us things are going badly.

Red Cloud on September 30, 2009 at 9:12 AM

I think Obambi CANT WAIT to surrender to the tallee-bahn. The Dhimmicrats surrendered Vietnam after we had won it. They tried to surrender Iraq but Bush prevented them from doing so. This latest surrender is payback for Bush’s successfully run campaign in Iraq. As our dear leader said, “I’m not interested in victory.”

Indeed.

Mojave Mark on September 30, 2009 at 9:13 AM

a hundred years?

That’s PARAMOUNT!

And honestly hard to believe, but then I know virtually nothing about Afghanistan.

therightscoop on September 30, 2009 at 9:14 AM

I guess this means according to LGF Yon like Palin will have to be thrown under the bus for associating with the wrong people.

petertheslow on September 30, 2009 at 9:14 AM

the bottom line from the CinC: “i am not interested in victory”.

i really, really hope our soldiers in harm’s way didn’t hear that comment. and if they did hear it, i hope they know that there are some real Americans still here that thank God every day for their service & sacrifice.

kelley in virginia on September 30, 2009 at 9:22 AM

100 years. What is the national security/economic payoff to the U.S. for that level of commitment, and how do we measure success of that commitment over that large a time scale? How do you sell this commitment to the U.S. citizenry? Americans simply are not patient enough for this. We never have been.

Fletch54 on September 30, 2009 at 9:23 AM

We are dealing with a seventh century establishment over there

blatantblue on September 30, 2009 at 9:27 AM

Great work, Ed.

I wonder if Obama regrets his foolish campaign rhetoric.

flyfisher on September 30, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Kelley in Va: they didn’t need to hear it because they are living it, unfortunately. I’m sure that more than a significant majority of our troops recognize that this man is no friend of our men and women in uniform.

If this is the way he is going to treat our soldiers, sailors, marines then pull them all out right now. Let the chips fall where they may but let not one more be killed following a deliberate plan by the President that leads to failure.

Used to be when some moonbat would yell “not my president” it would mean that they rejected the president’s legitimacy and stood against his policies.

I could now say “not my President” meaning that he has abandoned us and is not interested in what the public wants or what is in the best interests of the country. It really is all about “I won”.

turfmann on September 30, 2009 at 9:35 AM

The father of one of the little boys on my third grader’s flag football team headed out Saturday morning to Afganistan. He leads an infantry unit. Thanks to all the rain we’ve had, he didn’t get to see any of his little boy’s football games.

Meanwhile, his CINC is sitting all pretty and safe in his lovely tax paid White house, traveling in luxury at tax payer expense and completely disregarding the urgency of the mission over there. Obama might be CINC, but he is not a military expert. He has the word of the military expert on the ground telling him they need more troops. Either fight to win this thing, or stop sending over good men to a hopeless situation where they run a good chance of dying or being maimed for nothing. If we aren’t fighting to win, this is no longer a Just War. Just War theory=must have reasonable chance for victory.

So what’s it gonna be, Obama? Either declare defeat and bring them home, accepting the consequences as your legacy, or listen to the people who know what they are doing, whose butts are on the front line and give them the chance to win. But stop sending 8 year old’s dads to fight a war you aren’t willing to support!

pannw on September 30, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Oh, I almost forgot. God bless you, Michael Yon.

pannw on September 30, 2009 at 9:51 AM

If people think letting Afghanistan fall to the wolves will somehow help Pakistan, they will be sorely mistaken. Most likely the roles will just reverse, with Taliban training camps in Afghanistan and a raging insurgency in Pakistan.

BohicaTwentyTwo on September 30, 2009 at 9:53 AM

My husband is the military so I don’t say this without realizing the sacrifice I will have to make. I think the fight against the Taliban is worth fighting. Even if it takes a hundred years. They are truly evil and I think as the defenders of freedom the US has a duty to protect those that need protection. I don’t pretend I know how to win, or what it will take to win but I do know that if we can win, we should win and we will win.

sammypants on September 30, 2009 at 9:54 AM

really, really hope our soldiers in harm’s way didn’t hear that comment.
kelley in virginia on September 30, 2009 at 9:22 AM

Kelly in Va, I’ll bet that comment from PBHO took less than two hours to be heard in Washington, and repeated to troops in the most remote outpost in AF.
They know.
Ya know, I’m weary of being the new kind, supportive beta USA. I want any enemy of the US to fear arousing our wrath. If there are no troops sent, either loosen the ROE or withdraw ground troops, and pound the Taliban from the sky.

NaCly dog on September 30, 2009 at 9:58 AM

pannw on September 30, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Those really are the only two valid alternitives to this situation. Get all the way in or all the way out. All this new-age marleky about not being interested in victory is far beyond foolish. It is getting good men killed for no good reason.

MikeA on September 30, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Gotdammit! If we dick around with these people, they´re gonna hand us our hats. Either we ¨get interested¨ in victory-NOW,or bring ´em home. Gotdammit! Petraeus in 12

james hooker on September 30, 2009 at 10:05 AM

Petraeus in 12

That would be sweet.

sammypants on September 30, 2009 at 10:10 AM

sammypants on September 30, 2009 at 9:54 AM

I agree and God bless your husband for his service.

Connie on September 30, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Oh well, let’s put Afghanistan in the fail column and focuse on the Chicago Olympics!

Mr. Joe on September 30, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Trying to build democracy to Afghanistan is doomed to failure. You’d have better luck teaching a dog algebra.

Far better to put their best general they have in charge of the city, and support warlords across the countryside that will fight the taliban, because it will be in their interest to do so. As long as they’re too busy killing each other rather than building terror camps, then it’s all good.

Rebar on September 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM

The Taliban include many of the local tribes and militias who helped us when we were throwing money around. At some point we are going to have to win back those elements.

really, really hope our soldiers in harm’s way didn’t hear that comment.
kelley in virginia on September 30, 2009 at 9:22 AM

That’s actually what Patraeus himself said in a lecture in July when touring various parts of the US. West Point produces smart soldiers who understand that this type of conflict is not going to be settled like a sports event.

lexhamfox on September 30, 2009 at 10:24 AM

Imagine yourself on the side of a mountain somewhere in Afghanistan. It’s almost 7, about 90 degrees, and the shadows are fast growing longer. You haven’t slept since Tuesday morning, but somehow you’re not feeling tired.

It’s your third tour and you’ve got a wife and two little ones back home. Your little girl turned 4 on Sunday and, with luck, you’ll get to tell her Happy Birthday yourself in a few days.

You got an email last week from your wife at work saying there’ll be more layoffs soon but she thinks she’ll make the cut, and for you not to worry. But you do anyway.

And yesterday word comes down that your CINC is still sitting on a request for more troops and that he’s talked just once to your Commander whom he posted over two months ago. One lousy sit down in two months.

Then you hear that he, the CINC, is flying with his wife over to Denmark to talk about games. Friggin’ games.

Down the road, in the distance, the signature blast of an IED splits the silence, and you wonder if any of your buds were in that area.

The shadows grow longer, as you wait for the night.

TXUS on September 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM

I guess this means according to LGF Yon like Palin will have to be thrown under the bus for associating with the wrong people.

The problem with playing “Six Degrees of Adolf Hitler” is that everyone is “associated with” someone who is “associated with” someone who … “associated with” any given person on the planet.

Recursive guilt by association used to be called “McCarthyism”. Now I think we should rename it “Johnsonism”, because Chuckles has taken it to a whole new level.

The Monster on September 30, 2009 at 10:32 AM

TXUS on September 30, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Hoah.

MikeA on September 30, 2009 at 10:40 AM

Cutting and running will give the jihadist the victory they are looking for.

Obama said over and over and over and over that the democrats were smarter and had a better plan to win in the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater.

Obama told us repeatedly that America would not be safe as long as the jihadist could organize, train,plan,and launch attacks from the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater.

In march he hired his General and laid out that plan.

In September he says that he has to review and come up with a strategy.

Obama has played golf 10 times more than he has met (one time,never face to face) with the General he hired to win in Afghanistan.

This is what the jihadist have to say about “smart power”:

New On MEMRI TV: Taliban Commander in Paktika Province Maulvi Sangin: America Seeks Escape Route From Afghanistan

http://www.thememriblog.org/blog_personal/en/19619.htm

Obama’s secretary of state seems to know the consequences of retreating in Afghanistan:

Mrs. Clinton, who opposed Mr. Biden in March, appeared to refer to this debate in an interview on Monday night on PBS. “Some people say, ‘Well, Al Qaeda’s no longer in Afghanistan,’ ” she said. “If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can’t tell you how fast Al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.”

Some of our Brightest military leaders also understand the consequences of retreat:


Commanders back Afghan troop hike assessment

Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:27pm EDT
http://www.reuters.com/article/asiaCrisis/idUSN23415447

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Central Command, Army General David Petraeus, said on Wednesday that both he and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had endorsed an assessment by the top commander in Afghanistan that says more troops would be needed.

“Obviously I endorsed, the chairman endorsed… Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal’s assessment and description,” Petraeus said at a counterinsurgency conference in Washington.

Obama talked big when he needed votes:

According to Obama, Eliminating the terrorist safe havens,training camps,and ability to launch attacks from Afghanistan and Pakistan is vital to America’s safety.

“We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”

“[al Qaeda] are now operating in 60 countries. We have to go to the root cause, and that is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s going to be critical. “

“…every intelligence agency will acknowledge that al Qaeda is the greatest threat against the United States and that Secretary of Defense Gates acknowledged the central front — that the place where we have to deal with these folks is going to be in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.”

And until we do, Americans here at home are not going to be safe.

Obama on Afghanistan/Pakistan during the 2008 Presidential debates

It is time for Obama to quit being Mr. Paparazzi and start being Mr.President.

Our troops deserve a he!! of a lot better than this back burner treatment from the White House.

Baxter Greene on September 30, 2009 at 11:01 AM

“He’s a politician and he’s got to do what politicians do.”
Jerimiah Wright on Obama

MikeA on September 30, 2009 at 11:21 AM

This is a hundred-years war if we plan on winning it, but the decision has to be made.

So Yon says it is a hundred year war and yet is STILL in favor of it? Words escape me.

MB4 on September 30, 2009 at 11:55 AM

It is delusional to think that one can predict geopolitical events 100 years out with any good degree of accuracy. Why not 50 years? Why not 200 years? This is crazier than Al Gore predicting the weather 100 years out.

MB4 on September 30, 2009 at 12:06 PM


Sanity alert!

Trying to build democracy to Afghanistan is doomed to failure. You’d have better luck teaching a dog algebra.

Far better to put their best general they have in charge of the city, and support warlords across the countryside that will fight the taliban, because it will be in their interest to do so. As long as they’re too busy killing each other rather than building terror camps, then it’s all good.

Rebar on September 30, 2009 at 10:23 AM

A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.
- Baltasar Gracian

MB4 on September 30, 2009 at 12:14 PM

100 years, assuming no “President for Life” would be between 13 and 25+ different U.S. Presidents. Anyone who thinks that many U.S. Presidents would opt to stay in Afghanistan is stark raving.

MB4 on September 30, 2009 at 12:24 PM

I think I have figured it out. Yon is not crazy. Well, maybe “crazy like a fox”. He is like a Government Motors car salesman supposedly trying very hard to sell you a car but one who keeps pointing out all sorts of compelling reasons for you not to buy it. Tricky devil.

MB4 on September 30, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Pardon me, but I don’t see how it’s helpful to anyone except the enemy to opine that the war is “going very poorly” and the coalition is “on the brink” of collapse.

No wonder the Brits made Yon leave…
We are not in Afghanistan to build democracy or to “nation build” but to kill jihadi bad guys.
Time for our C-i-C to let our soldiers take the gloves off by getting rid of the restrictive ROE and by embracing VICTORY over the Taliban as the goal.

Jenfidel on September 30, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Afghanistan is still in the stone age. Amazing to see how different progress is in different parts of the world and the roll local culture plays.

By the way, all cultures are not equal, and we Americans should reflect really hard about who we want moving into our country in mass. Why do we always have to focus on importing all the bottom feeders and not focusing on importing from the worlds brightest and most accomplished.

Forcibly lowering the lowest common denominator of American standards is not wise. There are already plenty of places in the words full of un-accomplished people that seem reasonably content with their status quo. We should leave them alone and recruit citizens with creativity and accomplishment as goals. Turning the US into Haiti, the Sudan, or Guatemala is easy-just pass amnesty. If we want to aim a little higher, we should recruit better.

saiga on September 30, 2009 at 1:59 PM

Somewhere along the line we’ve allowed the UN and the left driven countries to get us to forget how to fight a war.

Here’s some things you already know….

In war, people die. Innocent and guilty suffer, that is of course why you avoid war if you can in the first place.

Sometimes you just have to go in and eliminate your enemy with prejudice. Make sure they don’t come back to do it again, and certainly make sure they don’t meet their goals.

This means you have to find out and assess what the enemy’s goals really ARE. Do we know this in Afghanistan? Not totally, but we have an idea, or we may totally know it but it isn’t being accepted, on TOP of having the public vacillate on the issue. Imagine that…liberals arguing about morality in an exercise they hate…defending our country. Laughable.

What I believe is that the islamic fascists are in this for the long term. They want to wear us down then over run us, which they will because we do not seem to collectively have the will to KILL THEM ALL.

To hell with what the other countries want, give the generals the tools to obliterate the enemy in SHORT ORDER. Stop messing around. Our hope in winning lies in not following the enemy’s plan, that is, cut them up and cut them up fast, not play their long term game.

We can argue about the minor crap after we’ve won and the enemy is all dead. How does that saying go…better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6….it applies here, but zero doesn’t have the balls to see it through, neither do the liberals in this country. The libs would much rather allow the enemy to have it’s win and figure out how to apologize to them later. Pigs.

Spiritk9 on September 30, 2009 at 3:58 PM

TXUS,
As a deployed member in Iraq on a third tour, I feel only those deployed can ultimately relate to your post and truly understand those feelings you laid out so well! Right on, brother!

g2825m on September 30, 2009 at 5:45 PM

TXUS,
As a deployed member in Iraq on a third tour, I feel only those deployed can ultimately relate to your post and truly understand those feelings you laid out so well! Right on, brother!

g2825m on September 30, 2009 at 5:45 PM

I’m humbled by your comment, and can only thank God there’s guys like you out there doing the hard lifting, while the rest of us sleep softly in the night.

But, g, there are millions and millions of us who are with you and your mission. Never forget that.

And we, and God, as always, are with you and the Sun and the morning.

TXUS on September 30, 2009 at 6:13 PM