5 years, 9 months ago
There is now not even a hint of an effort to make the narrative on Afghanistan consistent. From the AP:
President Barack Obama’s national security adviser did not rule adding more U.S. forces in Afghanistan to help turn around a war that he said on Sunday is not now in crisis.
James Jones, a retired Marine general with experience in Afghanistan, said the United States will know “by the end of next year” whether the revamped war plan Obama announced in March is taking hold.
The administration is redefining how it will measure progress, with new benchmarks that reflect a redrawn strategy. An outline is expected next month.
Making the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, Jones did little to dispel the growing expectation that Obama soon will be asked to supplement the 21,000 additional forces he already approved for Afghanistan this year.
“We won’t rule anything out,” but the new strategy is too fresh for a full evaluation, Jones said.
“If things come up where we need to adjust one way or the other, and it involves troops or it involves more incentives … for economic development or better assistance to help the Afghan government function, we’ll do that.”
The Obama plan is supposed to combine a more vigorous military campaign against the Taliban with a commitment to protect Afghan civilians and starve the insurgents of sanctuary and popular support. It envisions a large development effort led by civilians, which has not fully happened, and a rapid expansion of the Afghan armed forces to eventually take over responsibility for security.
“If we can get that done … we will know that fairly quickly,” Jones said.
The system to measure progress is several weeks from completion. It reflects creeping congressional skepticism about the war and its costs. The United States has spent more than $220 billion since the U.S.-led invasion of 2001, plus billions for more toward aid and development projects. By the United States’ own admission, much of the aid money was wasted.
Members of the House Appropriations Committee wrote recently that they are worried about “the prospects for an open-ended U.S. commitment to bring stability to a country that has a decades-long history of successfully rebuffing foreign military intervention and attempts to influence internal politics.”
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday he does not know how Congress would react to a new request for additional troops.
“It depends on what the facts and the arguments are,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. “It depends what our commanders in the field say. It depends also I think in part what our NATO allies are willing to do.”
So to summarize, the strategy involves a few more troops and a lot of civilian NGOs, these civilians not having been deployed yet because it’s too dangerous since there is little to no security, but we will know fairly quickly if this strategy works, er … um, that is, within 18 months. There may be more troops and if so we’ll provide them, but the White House is going to have a fit if the Generals ask for more troops.
Well, there you have it. But if Jim Jones is a stooge and a fool, Carl Levin is a liar. The commanders in the field have already said they are light on troops and need more. Brigadier General Nicholson has said that he doesn’t have enough forces to go everywhere, counterinsurgency-speak for “the insurgents will be left to run amok in various places.”
If lives and the existence of a transnational religiously-based insurgency weren’t at stake it would make for great theater.