Put On Your Listening Ears

I love listening to the radio.  My frequent preference of radio over television allows me to not have to deal with issues such as federally funded visual display makeovers.  Heaven knows we all could do with an improvement in our listening skills.

In my post of 2/24/09 called “I’m So Sorry,” I referred to a funny radio commentary by Dave Ross of CBS regarding the pre-confirmation resignation of Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary.  I searched for it over the last week and I finally found it to share with you.  Please listen; it is very funny:

http://www.mynorthwest.com/resources/audio_headlines/audio_player.php?a=5686&f=/kiro/2009/02/02132009100423.mp3

Also, Chris Core, whose commentary airs on local station WTOP, had heart-felt thoughts on the subject of Americans no longer being shielded from the photographs of the coffins coming home from Iraq:

http://www.wtop.com/emedia/145495.mp3

In order for real change to occur, real life must be faced.  It is irresponsible for Americans not to view or have no active participation in seeing the horrors of the Iraq War.  Only when we can feel the death and destruction first hand (or at least, second hand), shudder at the senseless results of our folly, will we be able to effect change.  So of course those pictures of our slain young men and women in thier coffins should be made public.  Who are we kidding by hiding the realities of the war?

In line with this thinking, President Obama must be very careful in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Two thoughts come to mind.  First, we need to learn from history and the disastrous failure when the Russians invaded Afghanistan during the 1980’s.  They did not stand a chance against the Afghan warrior mentality and tribal loyalty to local and sectarian rule, both of which still exist today.  Their “occupation” was not only ill-thought out, but there was no exit plan.  As a result, their march into Afghanistan that lasted ten years was one of the major causes of the dissolution of their Communist regime.  Between funding the war in Afghanistan and trying to keep up with the cold war/arms race  with the United States, the USSR bankrupted itself.  If we do commit to a much larger foray into Afghanistan, we are going to have to take a different tack than the Russians did twenty years ago.  The Russian actions did not work then and identical efforts by the United States today also will not be successful.  We need to heed the lessons of the past:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2009/02/23/090223crbn_brieflynoted3

The other half of the story is a more general outlook on the validity of war.  President Obama will have to balance the need for security with not putting our soldiers in the path of death and destruction.  My tendencies are of the anti-war sort.  Why do we keep on having children if, decade after decade, we continue to subscribe to new wars that take our children away from us?  There must be a better way.  I am hopeful that Obama will find the ultimate answer.  So while he continues to bomb Afghanistan and Pakistan, I hope beyond hope that he is also considering other tactics.  Are there other ways to keep us secure?

President Obama said many times over during his campaign that we need to listen and talk to our “enemies.”  I am worried that if he has resorted to bombing, maybe the listening and talking are not possible.  Could that be?  I refuse to believe that.  Just last week when I was in New York and riding in a cab, I got to speaking with the driver, who came over to this country from Pakistan thirty years ago.  He still has family back in his native country.  His brother, a successful businessman over there, was kidnapped by the radicals and was safely returned after a ransom was paid.  The cab driver said what is vital to ending the extremists reign of terror is simple: they want to talk.  Talk is cheap, doesn’t take any lives and might produce some results.  Why don’t we try it?

Listening: we can practice by turning on the radio.  Talking: put the guns and bombs away.

POSTSCRIPT

After I published this post, I found this article in the New York Times “Week in Review” section today.  Timely, no?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/weekinreview/22levy.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

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