(U-WIRE) FULLERTON, Calif. War correspondent Matthew Fisher spoke about the “forgotten war” in Afghanistan to students and faculty Wednesday at Cal State Fullerton. Since Sept. 11, 2001, Fisher has been to Afghanistan 11 times and Iraq seven.
“People have said that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorists. It has become a kindergarten to terrorism,” Fisher said. “America needs to switch focus. If they don’t, Afghanistan will become the graduate school of terrorism.”
Fisher thinks America rushed into Iraq too fast and left Afghanistan prematurely.
“Iraq is a total lost cause, but the war in Afghanistan is still winnable,” he said. “It will take strong military and humanitarian sources. It will take money, blood and time to get Afghanistan to where it should be.”
While in Afghanistan, Fisher was present for the elections. This was the first time he was able to speak to the Afghani women because they voted separately from the men. Fisher said everyone wanted to see what it was like to have democracy.
“We should not kid ourselves that they want our way of life. They don’t. But they do not want the Taliban either,” Fisher said.
This was not the Canadian journalist’s first speech given at Cal State Fullerton. In the past he has been a guest at Communications Week and several classroom meetings, where he discussed the experience of war reporting. This time, however, he focused his speech on the need to win the war in Afghanistan.
“He is a world class war correspondent,” said Communications Professor Jeffrey Brody. “He made an excellent point that Afghanistan is the forgotten war.”
Fisher hopes that by speaking to students, faculty and society, he can spread awareness about the pending struggles in Afghanistan.
“I believe there needs to be as many observers as possible because the public should be as well informed as possible so they know what leaders to elect and which to throw out,” he said.
Student Jackie Kimmel attended the speech and found his knowledge of war and the U.S. military inspirational.
Kimmel, president of the CSUF chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and national sales executive for the Daily Titan, said it is her goal to become a war correspondent.
“I know that is a weird goal, especially for a woman,” she said. “The Daily Titan had a student war correspondent once and if they were to let me, I’d be on a plane tomorrow.”
Fisher “fueled the fire” for Kimmel’s interest in war reporting.
“I think he is a terribly brilliant man who has been more places than I ever could,” Kimmel said. “He has a better outlook than those who sit here and think they know what is going on. He is a Canadian man who knows more about the American military than I do and I’m American.”
Communications Professor Mike Tharp has invited Fisher to speak to his public affairs reporting class several times and thinks his conversations on Iraq and Afghanistan are the “single best” CSUF has had.
“He is one of the two or three most experienced, knowledgeable and authoritative war correspondents of my generation,” Tharp said.
Tharp covered five wars himself for U.S. News & World Report.
Fisher has covered 29 wars and lived in several different countries. He will be returning to Afghanistan in a few weeks for CanWest News Service.