What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 26, 2007

So...How's That AFGHAN War Going?

Not too good, according to this piece in the Washington Post.

A White House assessment of the war in Afghanistan has concluded that wide-ranging strategic goals that the Bush administration set for 2007 have not been met, even as U.S. and NATO forces have scored significant combat successes against resurgent Taliban fighters, according to U.S. officials.

The evaluation this month by the National Security Council followed an in-depth review in late 2006 that laid out a series of projected improvements for this year, including progress in security, governance and the economy. But the latest assessment concluded that only "the kinetic piece" -- individual battles against Taliban fighters -- has shown substantial progress, while improvements in the other areas continue to lag, a senior administration official said.

And there's something familiar about this, too.

This judgment reflects sharp differences between U.S. military and intelligence officials on where the Afghan war is headed. Intelligence analysts acknowledge the battlefield victories, but they highlight the Taliban's unchallenged expansion into new territory, an increase in opium poppy cultivation and the weakness of the government of President Hamid Karzai as signs that the war effort is deteriorating.

The contrasting views echo repeated internal disagreements over the Iraq war: While the military finds success in a virtually unbroken line of tactical achievements, intelligence officials worry about a looming strategic failure.

So I guess just focusing on the military successes misses the bigger picture.

Jack Kelly's piece in yesterday's P-G touched on the flip side of this argument - but focusing exclusively in Iraq. I got in too late yesterday to write it up so I'll try to tackle it tonight. On the issue of the reduction of violence in Iraq, all I can do right now is to point to this on-line chat at the Washington Post with Thomas Ricks, who's been covering the war in Iraq for some time:

Boonsboro, Md.: When will it be okay to state that we are winning in Iraq and all the naysayers ("the war is lost") were wrong? Even the New York Times is admitting things are going well.

Thomas E. Ricks: Well, things are going better. I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn't gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level -- which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth.

I interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing. But to a man, they were enormously frustrated by what they see as the foot-dragging of the Baghdad government.

And that's good news? At least we're not losing?

Heckuva job yer doin there, Bushie. Heckuva job.


Anonymous said...

John K. says: LMAO from the start on this post. No action in Iraq so all the reporters moved to Afghanistan and what do we get from them and the left, a comment like that. LMAO again. It is just so funny that the left so wants to lose they will say anything at any time. LOL LOL LOL

EdHeath said...

Well, perhaps John K has a point. All the news sources I look at acknowledge that the occupation of Iraq is showing a decrease in violence. However, no one in the Iraqi government seems to want to take a risk based on that decrease, so we see few, if any, steps taken within the Iraqi government towards power and oil-revenue sharing. Naturally some journalists’ attention will turn towards Afghanistan.

It’s quite disturbing that the Taliban is being linked to opium production. Probably the Taliban’s only redeeming quality when they were in power pre-9/11 was that they were opposed (violently, naturally) to drug production in Afghanistan. We probably really were welcomed as liberators initially in Afghanistan, but we seem to have screwed the pooch yet again.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: I am now waiting for Sen. Reid and Reps Pelosi and Murtha tell us they were responsible for the success in Iraq. And that they were behind Gen. Petreaus all along. You currently now see more reporting from Afghanistan because of inaction in Iraq. The news reporters have shifted there. Why? Because there is no longer enough bad news from Iraq to fill a newscast. And when in Afghanistan the media gets paid to produce bad news. Good news on page 11, bad news on page 1. I win!

Schmuck Shitrock said...

The Taliban is disturbing all right, Ed, but it has been in the opium business for years, either directly as a producer or indirectly as a government that derived tax revenue from opium farmers. Here's an article to check out from the Congressional Research Service.

Of course, it was more profitable, er I mean important for the Bush Administration to go after Saddam than to finish the job against the folks who sponsored 9/11 and produce drugs to corrupt our youth.