CBS: U.S. Turning Attention to Iraq from Afghanistan the 'Gravest Error of All'

For the second night, CBS devoted time in its “Afghanistan: The Road Ahead” series -- which consumed the entirety of Tuesday's CBS Evening News -- to stressing how the decision to go into Iraq undermined success in Afghanistan. Lara Logan, CBS's chief foreign correspondent, rued “the U.S. allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora mountains” and then, in endorsing the view she credited to “many,” she contended:
What many here see as the gravest error of all: Afghans were wary as the U.S. turned its attention to invading Iraq. And they were right. Everything from reconstruction and aid to the fight itself suffered as the U.S. shifted its resources and its focus away from Afghanistan and the commitment it had made to the Afghan people. Not surprisingly, Afghan support for the war began to fade.
Unaddressed: President Barack Obama is wavering on that commitment since he's now resisting General Stanley McChrystal's recommendation for a big troop increase to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban while Vice President Joe Biden is advocating an air strike-centered approach which will leave Afghan citizens in danger.  

The Monday night NewsBusters item, “Couric Relies on Albright to Blame Obama's Afghanistan Conundrum on Bush,” recounted: 
“With Hamid Karzai in place as the interim leader of Afghanistan, the drum beat of war moved west to Iraq,” Couric recalled in using the loaded “drum beat of war” language, leading into [former Secretary of State Madeleine] Albright's scolding of former President Bush: “The problem was that he took his eye off the ball and linked two things that didn't go together, which is al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and so things got much worse.” Couric pounded home the point: “By October of 2006, there were 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and just 21,000 in Afghanistan.”
CBSNews.com online version of Logan's story.

From the Tuesday, October 6 CBS Evening News:
LARA LOGAN: The fall of Kabul in 2001 was greeted with jubilation. The momentum then with the U.S. But reluctant to commit its own troops, the U.S. allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from the Tota Bora mountains. Then, what many here see as the gravest error of all: Afghans were wary as the U.S. turned its attention to invading Iraq. And they were right. Everything from reconstruction and aid to the fight itself suffered as the U.S. shifted its resources and its focus away from Afghanistan and the commitment it had made to the Afghan people. Not surprisingly, Afghan support for the war began to fade.

LARA LOGAN TO ABDULLAH ABDULLAH:  What was lost in Afghanistan with the U.S. focusing on Iraq?

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The greatest opportunity, the best opportunity for a stabilization of Afghanistan.

LOGAN: That lost opportunity has led the U.S. into a fight that would have been unimaginable eight years ago when the Taliban collapsed in disarray. Back then, valleys like this in Northeastern Afghanistan were peaceful, the U.S. believing their enemy was defeated, put few military assets on the ground. Another grave mistake. Now even the most-remote mountains are killing grounds...
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center