Last week, the military published an ironically titled “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” that wrapped blunt admissions of strategic collapse in typical Pentagon happy talk. Short version: Violence is up 87 percent (p. 39), the insurgency has population sympathy/support in 92 of 121 key regions, and local support for International Security Assistance Force’s mission in the toilet (p. 38-39). Oh, and we’re killing more civilians, too. Oh, and Marja is crumbling under NATO’s feet. But worry not! Unnamed senior administration officials tell us, “We are on the cusp! Moving in the right direction!”
Anyone who bothered to read the report could see right through this silly bit of P.R. work. But senior administration officials and elected Democrats can’t be bothered with such petty details as mission failure. They have neocons and neolibs to sop and hippies to punch. Thank G-d for talking-point-laden CODELs!
Here’s TIME’s Joe Klein, quoting an unnamed senior administration official:
McChrystal’s optimism is based on information that he cannot share. …”The counterterrorism effort has broken the momentum that the Taliban built up over the past few years.”
Here’s U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Missouri), paraphrasing General McChrystal from his latest razzle-dazzle CODEL:
Speaking from Pakistan before returning home, Carnahan, D-St. Louis, said the United States is making progress but that tough challenges remain. He said Gen. Stanley McChrystal…told Carnahan and fellow members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the trip that the tide may be turning.
“He believes that they (the Taliban) had lost momentum and that we have an opportunity … but we’re not there yet,” Carnahan said.
Here’s U.S. Rep. Michael McMahon (D-New York):
McMahon said U.S. military leaders, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal…told him and other members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the “new counter-insurgency strategy is taking hold.”
“They are seeing progress,” said McMahon…and praised the “marriage of military and civilian support” forces.
McMahon plans to vote for that $33 billion supplemental war spending bill, by the way.
These Democrats would have better served constituents and taxpayers had they stayed home, read the reports that they mandated the military provide them, and applied their critical thinking skills rather than getting a Potemkin-village tour from the military. Instead, though, they opted for a little war tourism and spent a nice afternoon regurgitating the talking points given to them by the military over which they supposedly have oversight authority.
“Organizational capabilities and operational reach are qualitatively and geographically expanding”
Now see this assessment from the list of insurgent strengths from last week’s report:
The Afghan insurgency has a robust means of sustaining its operations…A ready supply of recruits is drawn from the frustrated population…Organizational capabilities and operational reach are qualitatively and geographically expanding. …Insurgents’ tactics, techniques, and procedures for conducting complex attacks are increasing in sophistication and strategic effect. (p. 21)
See all that “broken,” “lost” momentum? Me neither. The list of insurgent strengths listed on page 21 of last week’s report is almost identical to the list of strengths on slide 16 of Flynn’s December presentation. The insurgents’ momentum apparently carried on such that the report authors could cut and paste its description from the December 2009 report.
There’s a major set of votes coming up on $33 billion in new war spending to fund President Obama’s latest massive deployment of U.S. troops to Afghanistan and on U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern’s (D-Mass.) bill to require an exit strategy. But, it looks like many Members of Congress can’t be bothered to do their homework or question the happy-talk handed to them during their tourist stops in Kabul. While the military is cutting and pasting its reports together, some Members of Congress are cutting and pasting their talking points.
I’d like to remind my readers that in September 2009, McChrystal said:
“Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”
For those who are counting, that was almost 9 months ago.
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