CBS’s Lara Logan: The Middle East Is In More Trouble Than Americans Think

CBS News reporter Lara Logan became rather well-known for her coverage of the protests in Egypt that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak, and sadly more well-known when she ended up being brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by members of the crowd in Tahrir Square the night Mubarak finally left office. After a prolonged recovery, Logan is back at work on 60 Minutes, and recently returned to the United States from another trip to the Middle East with what I can only describe as a warning:

[Logan’s] ominous and frightening message was gleaned from years of covering our wars in the Middle East. She arrived in Chicago on the heels of her Sept. 30 report, “The Longest War.” It examined the Afghanistan conflict and exposed the perils that still confront America, 11 years after 9/11.

Eleven years later, “they” still hate us, now more than ever, Logan told the crowd. The Taliban and al-Qaida have not been vanquished, she added. They’re coming back.

“I chose this subject because, one, I can’t stand, that there is a major lie being propagated . . .” Logan declared in her native South African accent.

The lie is that America’s military might has tamed the Taliban.

“There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”

Logan stepped way out of the “objective,” journalistic role. The audience was riveted as she told of plowing through reams of documents, and interviewing John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan; Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and a Taliban commander trained by al-Qaida. The Taliban and al-Qaida are teaming up and recruiting new terrorists to do us deadly harm, she reports.

She made a passionate case that our government is downplaying the strength of our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a rationale of getting us out of the longest war. We have been lulled into believing that the perils are in the past: “You’re not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.”

Our enemies are writing the story, she suggests, and there’s no happy ending for us.

Some may argue that Logan’s experience in Cairo last year are affecting her judgment. However, I’ve never found her to be a raving anti-Muslim before and it doesn’t appear to me that she’s taking out what happened to her on the entire Middle East.  Besides, much of what she said about Afghanistan and Pakistan seems to match what her recent 60 Minutes report showed:

So, I have to wonder. Are we becoming complacent, much in the same way we did in the years before the 9/11 attacks? If we are then that, combined with the fact that eleven years of war in the Middle East have made a whole new host of enemies for us, could end up becoming something we’ll regret.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, National Security, Quick Takes, Terrorism
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. My personal feeling is that anyone who’s paying attention is well aware of Logan’s concerns, and that we’re just acting tough in public until we finish sneaking out the back door. Now the big question is what we do next?

    My hope is that what we’re seeing is a recognition that the Afghan policy has failed and we need to try a different strategy. That is not a move toward complacency, but a recognition that we can make the middle east become modren through widespread physical force.

    My fear is that we’re just throwing up our hands and are going to try just ignoring the Middle East.

  2. Fiona says:

    I’d like to know who she thinks the Taliban apologists are–I haven’t seen any named in the articles I’ve read. Who’s underestimating the degree of hatred emanating from the Arab world?

    Are we becoming more complacent? I don’t think so, but I do think there’s a lot of debate over best how to deal with terrorism. The whole notion that we need to fight a war on it seems mistaken and never ending.

  3. Mr. Replica says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    My hope is that what we’re seeing is a recognition that the Afghan policy has failed and we need to try a different strategy. That is not a move toward complacency, but a recognition that we can make the middle east become modren through widespread physical force.

    Um, did you mean to say:
    “but a recognition that we can not make the middle east become modern through widespread physical force”?

  4. @Mr. Replica:

    Yes, I left out an important “not” there. Where’s the edit button when you need it?

  5. rudderpedals says:

    Logan:

    “There is this narrative coming out of Washington for the last two years,” Logan said. It is driven in part by “Taliban apologists,” who claim “they are just the poor moderate, gentler, kinder Taliban,” she added sarcastically. “It’s such nonsense!”

    This reads as confabulation. As Fiona pointed out, the apologists aren’t identified. If it’s a narrative then the narrator should be easy to pick out. Ms. Logan’s axe is in the process of being ground down.

  6. Mr. Replica says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    While I do not know which browser you use, I do know that Google Chrome does not offer an edit function to appear after posting, BUT Firefox does.
    I liked Chrome, but seeing how my posts suffered here due to no edit function(even tho I “preview” and proof read my posts all the time), I made the switch back to Firefox. I have not used Internet Explorer in many many years, so I have no clue regarding it. Nor Safari.
    I also have no idea what the differences are between Firefox and Chrome in regards to coding, but for some reason one has those edit functions, while the other does not.

  7. bk says:

    The attack that she suffered through was horrific and reprehensible. Having said that, I am sure that there have been contrary reports from other cable/network correspondents that have been met with the usual “liberal media bias” response, unlike this one, which is being waved around by Republicans as PROOF that Obama is weak on terrorism and mideast foreign policy. It’s related to “polls are skewed and biased, unless Romney is ahead”. “BLS statistics are accurate unless they show a dip in unemployment; then they are rigged”. “Celebrity endorsements, are worthless, because Hollywood is in Obama’s pocket, but did you read that brilliant Chuck Norris editorial?”

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    @Mr. Replica: I too have had problems with Chrome and had to return to Firefox for commenting and Blog Posting.

  9. mantis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    My personal feeling is that anyone who’s paying attention is well aware of Logan’s concerns, and that we’re just acting tough in public until we finish sneaking out the back door.

    My thoughts exactly. This isn’t news. Anyone who pays attention to AfPak knows this.

    Now the big question is what we do next?

    Exactly. I think we should be learning the lesson that invasion and occupation is not going to kill off terrorism, and is probably making the situation worse. Of course, many of us were saying these things before we got involved in two wars, but no matter.

    So what next? If Obama is re-elected, get used to drones and assassinations that the military doesn’t want to talk very much about. The strategy will be to continue to make large-scale organization of Islamist forces very difficult in that region by focusing on top level targets. If Mitt Romney is elected, get ready for war with Iran and possibly several other countries, which will take resources away from AfPak, probably for the worse.

  10. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Kind of interesting how Ms. Logan’s “native South African accent” was remarked upon by Ms. Laura Washington (of the native African hairdo), the writer of the article. I wonder what that was all about.

    Expliquez moi, s’il vous plait.

  11. @mantis:

    If Obama is re-elected, get used to drones and assassinations that the military doesn’t want to talk very much about.

    While this solves the US casualties part of the problem, it seems to be doubling down on the making things worse part.

  12. mantis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    While this solves the US casualties part of the problem, it seems to be doubling down on the making things worse part.

    It very well might be.

    I honestly don’t know what a good path is. Invasions don’t work. Covert drone strikes and assassinations make things worse. Playing nice is not an option.

    Pray for an alien invasion to unite us all against a common foe?

  13. mantis says:

    @11B40:

    Kind of interesting how Ms. Logan’s “native South African accent” was remarked upon by Ms. Laura Washington (of the native African hairdo), the writer of the article. I wonder what that was all about.

    Just a reporter adding some detail to the coverage. I doubt it is anything more than that.

  14. 11B40 says:

    @mantis:

    Greetings, “Mantis”:

    I had thought about that possibility. Probably, if it had been President Zuma or one of his many 21st Century wives, Ms. Washington would have noted something very similar. That’s why I included that bit of tid about her coiffure. I guess my inner journalist is trying to get out again.

  15. Geek, Esq. says:

    The bigger quetion is:

    so what the f@ck do we do about it?

    11 years of bombing, occupying, spending, and troops dying– and painting the odd school building –haven’t reduced the hatred or strength of the Taliban.

    So, how long do we feed our men and dollars–and civilians caught in the crossfire–into the meat grinder?

  16. Travis says:

    @Geek, Esq.:
    It goes back longer than 11 years. It was 1979 that the CIA started feeding weapons and know-how to the mujahideen. Train and arm a bunch of extremist Muslim guerrillas fighting imperialist foreign invaders – gee, what could possibly go wrong?

  17. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    “A conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged.”

    Ms. Logan saw, and experienced, the “Arab Spring” far better than most people. I think she’s earned a bit of credibility.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    Oh, my God. The Middle East is fwcked up? This is staggering news. It’s unprecedented.

    And they were doing so well, what with 5,000 years of peace, love and understanding.