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Bad Hippies! No December Afghanistan Review For You!

Posted by on November 26th, 2010

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

Karl Eikenberry is the latest administration official to tell us that the thorough review of progress that Obama promised the nation a year ago when he ordered the Afghan surge will instead be just a rubberstamp of "staying the course" for another Friedman Unit.

I won't prejudge the December review that's ongoing right now. Again, my friend General [David] Petraeus has said many times that for the first time in Afghanistan we have the inputs right, we've got the forces on the ground, we've got the civilians on the ground, we've got the right programs, we've organized ourselves effectively, we've got some big ideas that we've now translated into the delivery of results. All of those inputs, so to speak, that President Obama then ordered up in his 1 December 2009 West Point speech, all of those inputs finally arrived in the spring, in the summer of just this year. So we've had about a five, a six-month period where all of these inputs now are being brought to bear. So to have an extensive review in December, where we've only had five or six months of the new strategy properly resourced and being brought forward, that would not make good sense.

At least Eikenberry has the balls to put his name to this broken promise. As Robert Dreyfuss notes, the rest of the officials signalling that "the much anticipated December 2010 presidential review of war policy is being reduced to a rubber-stamp approval of General David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency scheme" have hidden behind anonymity all too easily provided by the mainstream media. Likewise, a whole slew of officially unofficial administration and Pentagon folks have been backing this bait-and-switch with happy talk about how well the Afghan occupation is going.

The truth is far from pleasant. Alex Strick van Linschoten recently disassembled the happy talk which is replacing substantial discussion now that the December review isn't going to be the vehicle of good news everyone thought it would be. Peter Galbraith, the former number-two U.N. diplomat in Afghanistan says it will take "100 years" to field an honest, literate Afghan police force. After the recent fraud-ridden election, Pashtuns will be a minority in the Afghan parliament but a majority in the nation as a whole – and they're very unhappy about it.

Even the Pentagon itself can't find much official evidence of unofficial hyperbole about progress:

The Pentagon's semiannual report to Congress on the war in Afghanistan paints a picture of a country where corruption remains rampant, violence has increased, and a well-funded Taliban insurgency continues to make troubling gains.

…The number of Afghans rating their security situation as “bad” is “the highest since the nationwide survey began in September 2008,” the report’s authors write, noting that the “downward trend in security perception is likely due to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months.”

…According to the report, the Taliban insurgency’s capabilities and operational reach “have been qualitatively and geographically expanding” with plentiful sources of funding.

And not only is the promise of a 2011 start to troop withdrawals a broken promise, the week-old promise of 2014 as an end-date for combat operations has already been walked back too.

Even as the Obama administration steps away from July 2011 as a departure date of any consequence for US troops, senior officials in the briefing this week were reluctant to discuss the 2014 date that was put forward by Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a new goal for US combat troops to leave the country.

When asked by a reporter about the US “exit strategy” for Afghanistan, the senior defense official took issue with the term. “We don’t have an exit strategy. We have a transition strategy. The US commitment to Afghanistan is continuing, enduring, and long-lasting.”

The reporter suggested a rephrasing: “How about the exit of combat troops?”

Countered a senior State Department official, “How about the transition to Afghan control?”

So, what we're about to be treated to as a "December Review" is a bit of national security theater that will prove only one thing – that America is better at staying in a hopeless quagmire than the Soviets! " On Saturday Nov. 27, the United States and its allies will reach a grim milestone: they will have been in Afghanistan a day longer than the Soviet Union had been when it completed its 1989 withdrawal."

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! 

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to “Bad Hippies! No December Afghanistan Review For You!”

  1. This isn’t about attacks or reality; it’s about scaring enough people to keep them in line.

  2. By Steve Hynd Karl Eikenberry is the latest administration official to tell us that the thorough review of progress that Obama promised the nation a year ago when he ordered the Afghansurge will instead be just a rubberstamp of “staying the course” for another Friedman Unit.

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