The Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is painting a bleak picture of the war if he doesn’t get additional troops:
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict “will likely result in failure,” according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: “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.”
His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.
McChrystal concludes the document’s five-page Commander’s Summary on a note of muted optimism: “While the situation is serious, success is still achievable.”
But he repeatedly warns that without more forces and the rapid implementation of a genuine counterinsurgency strategy, defeat is likely. McChrystal describes an Afghan government riddled with corruption and an international force undermined by tactics that alienate civilians.
He provides extensive new details about the Taliban insurgency, which he calls a muscular and sophisticated enemy that uses modern propaganda and systematically reaches into Afghanistan’s prisons to recruit members and even plan operations.
Part of McChrystal’s argument, regarding the state of the Afghan government, seems to be confirmed by reports that the Taliban are benefiting from the corruption-riddled Presidential election:
KABUL, Sept. 20 — The big winner in the fraud-ridden, never-ending Afghanistan elections is turning out to be a party not even on the ballot: the Taliban.
A stream of revelations about systematic cheating during last month’s vote has given the Taliban fresh ammunition in their propaganda campaign to portray President Hamid Karzai’s administration as hopelessly corrupt. Infighting among U.S., U.N. and European diplomats over whether to accept the results with Karzai the winner or force a new round of voting has also fed the Taliban line that the government in Kabul is merely a puppet of foreign powers.
Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s reclusive leader, broke his silence Saturday to denounce “the so-called elections which were fraught with fraud and lies and which were categorically rejected by the people.”
In a statement released on the Internet to mark the end of Ramadan, Omar also railed against what he called “the rampant corruption in the surrogate Kabul administration, the embezzlement, drug trafficking, the existence of mafia networks, the tyranny and high-handedness of the warlords,” according to a translation by the NEFA Foundation, a terrorism research group.
The problem for the Afghan government and its chief benefactor, the Obama administration, is that the Taliban’s rhetoric has been echoed in recent days by U.S. and European officials, as well as some Afghan leaders, who have characterized the Aug. 20 election as a debacle and Karzai’s government as inept.
“They are benefiting enormously from all this,” said Haroun Mir, a political analyst and director of Afghanistan’s Center for Research and Policy Studies in Kabul.
“The credibility of this election has already been highly undermined, both by the opposition and by the international community itself,” he added. “Now people have lost their trust, not only with the Afghan government, but also in the NATO forces.”
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama says he hasn’t asked his top commander in Afghanistan to sit on an expected request for U.S. reinforcements in a backsliding war, but he gave no deadline for making a decision about whether to send more Americans into harm’s way
Especially given the fact that we clearly have no idea what we’re doing here.