Afghanistan: Yup, Still Bad Situation, Pentagon Reports

From the Chicago Tribune:

Though NATO and Afghan forces have "increased pressure on insurgent networks over the past several months, the insurgency has proven resilient" and "will retain operational momentum in some areas" as long as the Taliban can use neighboring Pakistan and Iran as sanctuaries, the report says.

It adds that the number of Afghans rating security as "bad" is at its highest level since the survey began in 2008, a trend the report concludes was due "to the steady increase in total violence over the past nine months."

The sobering appraisal, which examines developments from April through September and is required by Congress, contrasts with the more upbeat assessment heard in recent days from President Obama and senior military officers, who have emphasized signs that the war is turning around and that momentum is shifting away from the Taliban.....

The previous Afghanistan assessment issued by the Pentagon, in June, concluded that the U.S. faced "severe challenges" and that the security situation was continuing to "deteriorate." The assessment released Tuesday found that security conditions over the last three months were "relatively unchanged" in the 124 districts deemed by international forces to be "key terrain."

Three districts in the east and one in the south have seen security worsen, meaning residents and troops in those areas now face "frequent threats," while in two other districts, in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, conditions have improved.

With nearly 100,000 U.S. troops and nearly 50,000 other foreign forces now in Afghanistan, "we are pushing the Taliban out of the populated areas," a senior State Department official said. But he acknowledged that the gains remained "fragile" and that the Taliban, even when driven out of cities and towns, continued to have influence.

The Pentagon's bright side--for itself, I guess--is that all the problems are a result, allegedly, of Obama mentioning even plans for an intention to eventually possibly leave the nation. Thus, the only way to keep Afghanistan un-deteriorating is to never leave. OK, can we vow never to leave as long as we actually do, as quickly as possible?

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  • Michael S. Langston||

    & let's not forget about North Korea.... (here).

    Obama's foreign policy hits just keep on coming....

  • ||

    Sorry, old boy, but much as I'd like to, NK in its current level of bad behavior is not something I find I can lay at the Chosen One's doorstep.

    The Korean conflict is something that goes back to a certain level of mishandling by every post-war administration in one way or another.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    I still say MacArthur had the right and best idea that anyone's ever had for North Korea.

  • ||

    What's interesting but frequently ignored in the treatment of the Truman-MacArthur pissing contest is that it was Truman's idea to cross the 38th parallel.

    MacArthur had paused there after turning the tide of the war after the Inchon landing. He pointed out to Truman that the UN's mandate only authorized restoring the border between North and South settled on post WWII. Truman ordered him to press on to the Yalu River.

    MacArthur is the one that history has labeled the out of control super nationalist but it's Truman who thought he could crush the communists once and for all and ordered the move that brought the Chinese into the conflict.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Nonetheless, Obama does deserve the hit. There's no way to rate Obama other than "Far Worse Than Bush" on foreign policy, because Obama has doubled down on every mistake Bush made.

  • ||

    Can't argue with that.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Obama should swallow his pride and ask for Afghanistan tips from the Soviets.

  • ||

    Leave. Let empire crash around you.
    Drink!

  • Captured soldier||

    I would but I can't talk with my nuts sewn into my mouth. You can come here

  • Captured soldier||

    ...and leave with your nuts

  • RyanXXX||

    Because they were so wildly succesful???!!

    Genghis Khan may have some good tips about Afghanistan, but I can't think of anyone else.

  • Kolohe||

    Obama should swallow his pride and ask for Afghanistan tips from the Soviets

    He is.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Don't worry, Obama's boys are negotiating with the Taliban to settle this once and for all. That the Talibs' negotiator is really a reupholsterer from Lahore doesn't seem to make a difference...

  • ||

  • Jeffersonian||

    Peace in our time is at hand.

    That's pure gold.

  • Hugh Akston||

    But but but, if the US pulls out of Afghanistan it will collapse into a corrupt nation of feudal warlords who dislike America.

  • ||

    Who gives a fuck?

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'm thinking Hugh was being sarcastic, seeing as how Afghanistan is currently a corrupt nation of feudal warlords who don't really like America.

  • ||

    Exactly! And they'll have a make-believe president who pretends to like the US in order to get money so his cabinet can steal it.

  • Spazmo||

    And the Taliban will still be a major force in the country.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    And the Taliban will still be a major force in the country.

    Theirs or ours?

    ... Hobbit

  • ||

    http://www.cfr.org/publication.....istan.html
    "...but a much smaller fraction--less than three thousand--are full-time insurgents. Those numbers inched up in June 2008, when coordinated suicide bombings freed roughly four hundred Taliban fighters from a prison in Kandahar."

    Uh, so we outnumber them...uh, let's see...divide by ...10...OK, we outnumber then by about 10 to one, we got really, really fancy stuff, but....Oh, they're all in Pakistan...and if we went to Pakistan, they would go to Craplanistan....and so on...till they went to North Vietnam. At that point, we would withdraw with honor...because otherwise we would be bogged down in a quagmire. And we know the most deadly military weapon in the world is black pajamas...the North Vietnamese probably still have them....so we best not mess around with them...

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Pray tell, how does that differ from the natural state of affairs in Afghanistan?

    Maybe we should bribe them with foreign aid. Everyone who gets foreign aid loves America.

  • ||

    Poor old "W", he ignored the "international community" on Iraq and did Afghanistan "their way" and still managed to fuck it all up.

  • ||

    Ronald Reagan once said that the Afghan soldiers fighting the Russians were the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. Now they are all evil!!!

    Recently, one police station just up and defected to the Taliban. Not a good sign.

  • Les||

    Yeah, he said the same thing about the terrorist Contras. For Reagan (and his followers), anyone fighting communists were like the Founding Fathers, even if they were terrorists, or religious fundamentalist authoritarian nutjobs.

  • Kolohe||

    Recently, one police station just up and defected to the Taliban. Not a good sign.

    Despite the large number of initial reports that said this (which itself is a sign of how cocked up the Afghan govt is) it actually looks more like they were massacred as a result of a single traitor who let them in the compound:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....03891.html

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    as long as the Taliban can use neighboring Pakistan and Iran as sanctuaries

    Iran too, is it? Well, this part of the security theater ought to be over with real soon.

    Seems like it'd be far cheaper and equally effective, to pull all ground forces out. Then buy a big fleet of UAVs and have them on a 24/7 perpetual bombing run of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

  • IceTrey||

    What's so disappointing is that the generals will not come out and admit they know you can NEVER defeat a dedicated guerrilla force if they can escape into sanctuary countries. That lesson was paid for in blood in Vietnam.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    If the idea of admitting it out loud ever crossed a general's mind, they'd replace him before he finished his next eye blink.

    I strongly suspect the problem lies much more with the politicians than the generals.

    Of course, the politicians can always find a general that says what they want to hear said.

    One of the few, rare potential virtues of the Dems is that they are the ones against war. But they won't do anything for fear of looking weak on defense.

    But then, I'm also convinced that the American people learned absolutely zero from the Vietnam experience. Do you really think they'll learn anything from Iraq and Afghanistan?

    We will be in both Iraq and Afghanistan until Uncle Sam absolutely cannot borrow another dime from another bank.

  • kqkx||

    So now Shi'ite Iran is supposed to be helping ultra-orthodox Sunni Taliban as well? Sounds like a cover-up for gross incompetence in the military/civilian leadership.

  • ||

    Seems incredible. And a good argument that our best course of action is to to leave, and let them go back to hating each other.

  • ||

    I am not superstitious but I wonder if Afghanistan somehow curses all the armies that enter it.

  • Alexander the Great||

    Yeah, NOW you tell me.

  • ||

    Precisely, we never leave. Just like in Israel, if you give one single inch to the jihadis they only attack harder. If this sounds harsh, then tough shit, it's how the Islamic world works.

  • ||

    Not being a military historian or military expert at all, but perhaps the reason we are basically where we started in Afghanistan is that either our soldiers just aren't very good or the military leadership is lousy. What else explains this? Isn't there a gigantic imbalance in our favor of men and material vs the Taliban?

    And thinking about this, I started to wonder about other US military successes since WWII. Are there any of note? Sure, the 1991 Gulf War, but besides that (and was it much of a contest?), are there any? In three years, we (the Allies) beat the Germans and Japanese, despite huge initial disadvantages. But since then, Korea (stalemate), Vietnam (loss and retreat).

    I know it doesn't sound very pro-American to criticize our military but what do we get for all these $Trillions? Shouldn't we be able to prevail over someone?

  • ||

    What else explains this?

    Incompetent political leadership, which has set forth an impossible mission or three, is my guess.

  • ||

    So, FDR and Truman were much better than every president afterwards? That explains it?

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