Background Briefing - Sunday, November 21, 2010

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Hello and welcome to Background Briefing, I’m Ian Masters and today we will look into a number of subjects and issues in the news. We will begin in a moment and speak with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky who is a member of President Obama’s 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the so-called Simpson/Bowles Commission. She joins us to discuss her alternative she is offering up that is friendlier to middle class and working Americans, a plan which does not rely heavily on benefit cuts but instead focuses on revenue increases.

Then we will be joined by the only Western journalists living in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where there is a major offensive underway against the Taliban, that has provoked an outburst from President Karzai who has just attended the NATO summit in Lisbon, that has called for a new exit date of 2014, conditional upon a rebuilt Afghan Army that has yet to materialize. We will talk with Felix Kuehn and Alex Strick Von Linschoven who are working on a book-length study on the relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Then we will dig deeper into the question of who are we fighting and what are we fighting for in Afghanistan, with Dr Marvin Weinbaum who was the head of the Afghanistan/Pakistan desk at the INR, the State Department Intelligence Bureau and is now Scholar-in-Residence at the Middle East Institute.