U.S. Notes Limited Progress in Afghan War
Strategic Goals Unmet, White House Concludes
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2007; A01
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.
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.
Tactics don’t matter. It’s strategy, stupid. Everyone agreed, particularly Petraeus, that this war could not be won except by diplomatic means.
And that is failing.
Which is not a surprise to anyone who looks into the varying desires and needs of the combatants. Not the military combatants—they are obscured by strategy. The tribes are yet to be sorted out and until that happens (and perhaps decades longer) there will be no political coming together.
We have shattered a very delicate instrument. No one has ever brought Western-style democracy to Iraq or Afghanistan. Not ever. Not in known human history.
So we are winning in the one way that is meaningless to the nations involved. And, even there, we are winning only for the moment.
An excellent time to take Nouri Kamel Mohammed Hassan al-Maliki at his word and withdraw.
If Blackwater will let us.