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In deciding what to do in Afghanistan, President Obama faces more than the question of how many troops. It's the clout of the military in a society where the civilian government is supposed to be in charge. After all, it took a former general, President Dwight Eisenhower, to coin the term "military-industrial complex." Also, a UN report pushes Afghan officials to call for a run-off election, and coverage of the boy who turned out not to be in the balloon. Did cable news report on a fraud or perpetrate one?

Banner image: US General Stanley McChrystal (R) arriving at the Baraki Barak Joint combat Outpost (JCOP) in Logar Province, Afghanistan on on September 21, 2009. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Making News Afghan Recount and Washington War Strategy 7 MIN, 47 SEC

For the first time, the government of Afghanistan has conceded that President Hamid Karzai will have to compete in a run-off for re-election as President of the country. This after investigation by the United Nations-backed Electoral Complaints Commission gave Karzai just 47% of the original vote. Elisabeth Bumiller reports from the Pentagon for the New York Times.

Elisabeth Bumiller, Pentagon Correspondent, New York Times

Main Topic Barack Obama and the Military-Industrial Complex 36 MIN, 33 SEC

As he considers General McChrystal's request for more troops in Afghanistan, President Obama faces a conflict defined by the Constitution. He is the Commander in Chief, but the US military enjoys at least as much political influence as the civilian authority that is nominally in charge. McCrystal was hand-picked by Obama to change the face of the eight-year-old war, but by publicly advocating a troop increase the President may not want to provide, the military leader has challenged the civilian authority provided by the Constitution. Like Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, Obama appears to doubt that all-out force will produce the right outcome, but his options may be limited. If he provides what McChrystal asks, will Obama plunge the country into another "quagmire?"  If he does anything less, will he be labeled "unpatriotic?"

David Greenberg, Rutgers University (@republicofspin)
Richard Kohn, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Joel Andreas, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
Philip Coyle, former Director of Weapons Testing, Pentagon

Addicted to War

Joel Andreas

Reporter's Notebook The Boy Who Was Not in the Balloon 6 MIN, 38 SEC

Cable news viewers got an hour and a half of commercial-free programming yesterday while a large, UFO-shaped helium balloon floated 7000 feet above Colorado. The awful possibility was that six-year-old Falcon Heene was aboard. Mercifully, the truth turned out to be very different, but the full story has yet to be unraveled. James Poniewzik is TV critic for Time magazine.

James Poniewozik, New York Times (@poniewozik)


Warren Olney

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