Listening to Locals

by Joshua Foust on 5/12/2008

It was bad news when the Pentagon announced it was making Major General Jay Hood the senior DOD official in Pakistan—because he was commander of the Guantanamo prison facility. I couldn’t offer any opinion on what role he played in the abuses, or what he did about it, because I just don’t know. But his title as commander as one of the most notorious American geopolitical missteps in the Muslim world, choosing him to represent us in a country like Pakistan seemed particularly tone deaf.

In the face of massive protests from the new civilian government and Pakistani media, his appointment has been dropped. So maybe they aren’t as tone deaf as they pretend to be. Still, given the way Pakistani-American relations have deteriorated in recent months, his appointment soured things unnecessarily. Like it or not, the U.S. military is as much a PR agent as a war fighting organ—and they know it, if the way they treat the American public is any indication. Why they don’t think public opinion in other countries matters as well is a mystery.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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