NIE Questions Progress in Afghanistan

Congress has been briefed on a new National Intelligence estimate on Afghanistan that is said to throw cold water on the idea that the US military has made significant progress in Afghanistan as a result of President Obama’s troop escalation.

In a further demonstration that people leak classified documents all the time in Washington–it isn’t just Wikileaks — the NIE’s key findings were provided (almost certainly by congressmen) to the LAT and other newspapers. The LAT says that the analysts of 16 intelligence agencies in Washington “contend that large swaths of Afghanistan are still at risk of falling to the Taliban” and that elements in Pakistan’s continue to train, support and behind the scenes use Taliban groups in Afghanistan.

In a significant turn of events, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), a contender for chairman of the House intelligence committee, said in response that it might be time to begin withdrawing toops from Afghanistan and for the US to have a ‘smaller footprint’ there. A small footprint approach (counter-terrorism) had been suggested in 2009 by VP Joe Biden but rejected in favor of a troop escalation and a wide-ranging ‘counter-insurgencey’ effort, which requires pacifying the whole country. Rogers seems to have been convinced by the new NIE that the latter is unlikely. Counter-insurgency depends on having a reliable local partner, but doubts have been raised about President Hamid Karzai’s dependability, to say the least (scroll down).

If the Republicans in Congress start calling for a troop withdrawal, it will be hard for Obama to resist starting the withdrawal process.

5 Responses

  1. One thing is all the talk about Afghanistan you keep noticing is that talk of Al Queda is gone, and we only talk about Taliban. Preseident Obama even opened up his speech in his last trip to Afghanistan with talk of Taliban.

    Media,politicians, and President Obama seem to want us to ignore the fact that Talibans are Afghans. Aren’t they the Muslim equivalent to the born again, bible-belt Christians in Afghanistan? If in US, the country that has send a man to the moon, you have strong evangelical movement, how on earth do you think there wont be the religious orthodoxy in Afghanistan. If Bush could get elected on the wave of Evangelical support, I would guess that the smart thing for Karzai would be to get on their side too.

  2. Here isnthe seed of a new political strategy in congress for dealing with our bipartisan president. Find common cause on this crucial issue and force his hand, and reach out repeatedly to the republicans who could be drawn into fiscally responsible military budget cutting. There is a convergence of interests here and it is clear that Obama is much more likely to follow republican suggestions than democratic ones.

    This political approach gives Obama out of the box of his own making by providing political cover against General Paetreus.

  3. Let’s quote Richard Holbrook’s final words before his death: “You’ve got to end the war in Afghanistan.” It takes more courage to end a war than to start a war. Does the US have the courage to end this needless war?

  4. We are prisoners of our language.

    Phrases like “risk of FALLING TO the Taliban” and “COUNTER-whatever” and “PACIFYING” infect the Narrative discourse, activate reflex (not “reflective”) responses, and seamlessly divert even fairly rational people into parallel-universe game playing and that usual, profitable, comfortably futile road to ruin. (How do the generals and policy-drivers actually hope to “pacify” all the districts and compounds of Notagainistan? It should be pretty clear that they DON’T, since they have already set up the excuses for why they will fail to produce that undefined and moving target, “victory:” Once again, lack of the necessary “will to win (enough troops and money and sophisticated destructive devices,)” the failure of their chosen “strong man” and forced embodiment of the nation they pretend to exist, coupled with that geographic fraud, the “porous border with Pakistan.” If only “we” could plug the “leaks” in the Border, as if it were a children’s summertime swimming pool…

    I’m guessing our host is well aware of the realities of day-to-day attempts at military occupation, and the latest initiatives of, and responses to, The Won’t-Play-Fair, Refuses-To-Fight-The-War-We-Spent-All-This-Money-Prepering-For, Deviously-Asymmetric Enemy. The Enemy being that complex set of self-interested groups and individuals who fracture and re-combine moment to moment like blobs of mercury spilled on a table. (The construct of “The Enemy” itself being an unexamined obscuring notion.)

    But “we” still persist in the comfortable and yet completely fraudulent and so easily manipulable modes of thought. link to dailymail.co.uk

    And so “we” all suffer under a system that rewards creators of conflict and violence, who profit in their careers and their purses from the kind of idiocy that pays “insurgents” (transmogrified momentarily from “hajji Taliban implacable enemies” into a convenient labor pool) to drive trucks hauling $400-a-gallon fuel and hugely expensive munitions past armed and capable gaggles of other “hajji Taliban implacable enemies,” bribed not to attack the convoys en route to the “front” or district or province where the Networked Battlespace Managers (US generals) decree is “the place where ‘we’ will win great battlefield victories and pacify next.” So they can announce, serially, that “the surge is working” and “there’s light at the end of the Panjshir (or whichever) valley” and us Narrative Eaters at home will continue to support their game, or at least remain ignorant and unconcerned by this futile, wasteful, perpetually destabilizing hidden-ball-trick idiocy.

    I wonder how many person-hours (Not “man-hours” any more — the War Department has gotten on board, in its efforts to protect its conquered territory and resource base here at home, with courses for its managers on sensitivity and political correctness) are being expended on that other front, the vicious endless war within the rings of the Beltway and the Pentagram over who gets to decree the terms of the Narrative and how to undercut any undercutting of the “”doctrine” of More-of-The-Same that might result from publication of the NIEs that are the focus of the present post.

  5. Why don’t we use the old Panama Canal trick and settle for extremely favorable terms on a 99-year “lease” of a twenty mile wide swath across both Afghanistan and Pakistan for our “Paki-Afghan Pipeline Zone”. Wouldn’t that be the most cost-effective way to access all those hydrocarbons in the “stans”?

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