Wait. Where Are These “Gains” NIE Says We Might Lose in Afghanistan?
The latest effort by War, Inc. to prolong the war in Afghanistan consists of a “leak” of the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan. The Washington Post dutifully stepped up to transcribe the official line, bleating breathlessly in its headline “Afghanistan gains will be lost quickly after drawdown, U.S. intelligence estimate warns”. Since drawing down our troops closes the spigot feeding war profiteers, we just can’t consider leaving:
A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report.
And if we leave faster, Afghanistan will go to hell faster, according to our Intelligence Oracles:
The report predicts that Afghanistan would likely descend into chaos quickly if Washington and Kabul don’t sign a security pact that would keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014 — a precondition for the delivery of billions of dollars in aid that the United States and its allies have pledged to spend in Afghanistan over the coming years.
As I have long maintained, however, virtually all claims of “progress” in Afghanistan come more from a process of gaming the numbers than any real calming of the country. Consider this post from June of 2012. Note from the figure in that post that violence in Afghanistan varies greatly with the season, but that the peak level of violence increased steadily from 2006 through 2011. I intended to go back to this same source to see how the subsequent years look on the graph, but it appears that these particular reports are no longer published for the general public.
The UN does still release reports on its collection of data regarding protection of civilians in Afghanistan. Noting that the current claim regarding the “success” of the surge in Afghanistan is that it managed to “reverse the Taliban’s momentum and give the government more of an edge”, consider the latest data on civilian deaths that the UN ascribes to anti-government elements in Afghanistan:
Perhaps, if we consider only deaths, an argument can be made that the rate of increase of deaths has been slowed, but there certainly is no basis for claiming that there is a trend to fewer deaths.
Lurking beneath this dire warning in the NIE is a tacit admission that the $50 billion that the US has spent to train and arm Afghan security forces has been a total waste, since the ANSF will not be able to maintain security once we are gone.
The bottom line is that the entire US war machinery has failed in every single facet of the effort in Afghanistan. Our presence has accomplished nothing but death, destruction and the wasting of nearly a trillion dollars. Our leaving will see further death and destruction. Staying longer would make no difference other than continuing to enrich War, Inc. There are no good options left, but getting our troops out at least stops the hemorrhaging of money.
Are they claiming we won’t get a “decent interval” effect if we leave now?
@Don Bacon: Wow.
Testimony to what 25 years of war can “accomplish”.
Hey Jim, Happy New Year to you.
I’m always surprised that the wealth in Afghanistan is rarely mentioned. What impact is this having. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
As well as the rare metals I have recollection of an article that outlined how beneficial the Afghan opium could be if redirected towards medical pain control (codeine, morphine, heroine, etc). The article mentioned a shortage of medical use opium and outlined how Afghan production could alleviate this.
Jim, have you seen any discussion on either of these vast revenue generating opportunities as part of the whole Afghan War picture?
@Nell: Make that 35. The Soviets invaded Christmas 1979, but they’d been messing around for a year or two before that.
President Karzai wasn’t consulted, but why should he be? He’s only a US ally, president of a host nation for US troops.
How will Afghanistan cope?
Not with the US brand of coping.
Here’s General Malouk, 215th ANA Corps Commander (Helmand) being honest when he said “This (war) is something that’s been imposed by other people from beyond this country.” —
Marine Corps Times, Dec 17, 2013
Happy New Year Jim. You rank with the best.
You knew Petraeus’s rotten origins — that impressed me.
How shall we cope w/o Caldwell and Petreaus?
Lucky for us they had no monopoly on stupidity and chicanery.
@Greg Bean (@GregLBean): Happy New Year, Greg. The wealth story comes up now and then, but I hadn’t seen the idea of using the poppy harvest for good works. A very interesting concept.
@Don Bacon: Thanks Don. Petraeus started pissing me off back during the Iraq days the way he smarmed Congress. And then I found Gareth Porter’s quote where Fallon called Petraeus an “ass kissing little chickenshit” and I knew I would never stop posting about him…
Keep up your digging. The extra links and comments you bring into the conversation are always valued.
@Greg Bean (@GregLBean):
Always thought this sounded puffed up… Certainly the article mentions lithium front and center, however it doesn’t appear on the list I saw…
The “gains” must be these (note the date)!
From http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-forces-kill-taliban-fighters-who-downed-helicopter/2011/08/10/gIQAxB1A7I_story.html?wprss=rss_politics on August 2011, Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, had this to say of the Taliban:
“All across Afghanistan, the insurgents are losing. They’re losing territory, they’re losing leadership, they’re losing weapons and supplies, they’re losing public support,” he said. “More and more, the insurgents are losing resolve and the will to fight.”
@Jim White: Hey Jim, conversion of the poppy crop to medical use was something I read about quite a while back. There are arguments against, but isn’t that always the case when a rational alternative is put forward that would reduce the opportunity for war.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou, Jim…! Hopefully this year will be the last year that our troops are in the Graveyard of Empires…!
@CTuttle: Happy New Year!
Yes, let’s hope the troops finally get to come home.
Vietnam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan. Yet another all-expenses-borrowed crusader cruise aboard …
January 1, 2014 here in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Forty-two years ago today, I returned to South Vietnam after a one-week R&R in Taipei that changed my life. Back again in Taiwan now for good, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, even though the prospects for the U.S. government learning anything from past military debacles do not look promising. “Gains,” indeed.
Admiral William “Fox” Fallon — the flag that didn’t fit in. CentCom Commander Admiral Fallon warned that constant talk of bombing Iran is not helpful. “This constant drumbeat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful,” he said. “I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for,” said Fallon. “It is not a good idea to be in a state of war. We ought to try and to do our utmost to create different conditions.” Fallon was subsequently fired by President Bush for his opposition to war with Iran.
I believe we’re at a turning point in Afghanistan.
*May 3, 2013: Kerry: This is a pivotal moment for both Afghanistan and Pakistan
*Mar 8, 2013: Hagel: I believe that we are at a very important moment in this campaign
*Mar 8, 2013: NYPost: [Hagel’s] unannounced visit comes at a turning point in the conflict.
*Dec 12, 2012: Panetta: We’re at a turning point. You know, we’ve been in war for 10 1/2 years, almost 11 years, since 9/11. It’s the longest period of warfare in the history — continuous period of warfare in the history of this country. And we’re now seeing a turning point: brought the war in Iraq to an end. In Afghanistan, where I’ll go next, get a chance to look at the campaign plan that General Allen put in place to ultimately draw down in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
*Dec 14, 2012: Panetta: In many ways, look, we’re at a turning point.
*Nov 20, 2012: Panetta: We are at a turning point after 10 years of war — over 10 years of war.
*Sep 27, 2012: Panetta: We did turn a very important corner.
*Sep 17, 2012: Panetta: Let me just say a few things. As I’ve said before, I think we’re at a turning point, certainly after 10 years of war,
*June 7, 2012: Panetta: We are, as I said, at a turning point after 10 years of war.
*May 3, 2012: Panetta: 2011 was really a turning point. In 2011 the Taliban was weakened significantly. They couldn’t organize the kind of attacks to regain territory that they had lost, which is something they have done in the past. So they’ve been weakened.
* April 18, 2012: Panetta: As I’ve said, 2011 was a real turning point. It was the first time in five years that we saw a drop in the number of enemy attacks.
* April 17, 2012: Panetta: NATO at ‘Pivotal Point’ in Afghan Mission
* December 14, 2011: Panetta was less than 34 miles from the Pakistan border when he told U.S. troops they have reached a turning point in the war.
* April 21, 2011: Gates: ” I think it’s possible that by the end of this year we will have turned a corner just because of the Taliban being driven out, and, more importantly, kept out.”
* March 15, 2011: “FOB DELHI: International troops in Afghanistan face the prospect of a spring offensive by the Taliban every year – but this time the US-led alliance believes it could mark a real turning point in its favour.”
* February 20, 2010: “Western officials believe that a turning point has been reached in the war against the Taliban, with a series of breakthroughs suggesting that the insurgents are on the back foot for the first time since their resurgence four years ago.”
* Sep 9, 2009: Exum: A Grim Turning Point in Afghanistan?
* August 31, 2009: “Monday marks the end of August, a month with both good and bad news out of Afghanistan — and the approach of a key turning point.“
* February 6, 2008: “But the ties that bind NATO are fraying badly – and publicly – over just how much each member state wants to commit to turning Afghanistan around. ‘It’s starting to get to a turning point about what is this alliance about,’ says Michael Williams, director of the transatlantic program at the Royal United Services Institute in London.”
* July 23, 2007: “Taken together these may reflect a turning point in how the war in Afghanistan is to be waged.”
* September 12, 2006: “The Afghan front is at a critical turning point that imperils many of the hard-fought successes of the early phase of the conflict and the prospects for snaring bin Laden.”
* September 22, 2005: “Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s foreign minister, called the recent parliamentary elections ‘a major turning point‘ on his country’s path to democracy.”
* January 27, 2004: “A statement from U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the enactment of the constitution a ‘turning point for the Afghan nation.’”
About those U.S. government pronouncements regarding this or that or whatever…
As Bullwinkle used to say to the incredulous Rocky the Flying Squirrel each time the hapless moose tried and failed to pull a rabbit out of his magic hat:
“This time for sure!”
Speaking of time-worn euphemisms and discredited metaphors that the U.S. military never tires of repeating as the years of abject failure add up to decades of defeat:
Seven years and counting later, the mind-numbing mantras and meaningless mumbo-jumbo continue unabated. I call “bullshit” on the brain-dead babble. It seems way past time to add one more Party slogan to Orwell’s infamous three, namely:
Ignorance is Strength
Freedom is Slavery
War is Peace
Defeat is Victory