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Hitchens, Greenwald Debate Afghan Surge: 'We're Being Played For Suckers By Pakistani Elite' (VIDEO)

Huffington Post   First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 03:55 PM ET

Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald and KT McFarland were on MSNBC's "Morning Meeting" to discuss President Obama's plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan with 30,000 more troops. Hitchens argued that the plan is based on a "keyhole view of the region" that involves us in a much wider conflict between Pakistan and India:

The problem is that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was originally imposed on that country by Pakistan as an attempt to take over Afghanistan as part of a proxie for its fight against India over Kashmir. We've now got drawn into this much wider picture, broader conflict with the regional superpower, which is India.

This puts us in opposition to India, Hitchens claimed, which is the opposite of where we want to be. He see McChrystal's plan as designed to keep India out of Pakistan, which "is 100 percent wrong. Our policy in the region should be based on being India's best friend. So we're being played for suckers by the Pakistani elite."

Greenwald is also critical of the planned surge, noting that one of the lessons of 9/11 is that propping up corrupt dictatorial regimes within the Islamic world alienates Muslims and can turn them against us. Yet we are doing this very thing in Afghanistan now, Greenwald added, by propping up the corrupt Karzai government and allowing too many civilians to die in our Predator drone attacks.

McFarland was alone in supporting the plan. She argued that the surge in Afghanistan is really about keeping the nuclear weapons in Pakistan out of the hands of Taliban extremists.

Interestingly, Hitchens said at the end of the debate that if you really wanted to affect serious change in the region, we would end the war on drugs. "We're burning [Afghanistan's] only crop. We're liberating them at the same time that we are destroying their economy. We should instead be buying up their poppy crop to make our painkilers as we help them transition to growing grapes

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