New York Times: Some Skeptics Questioning Rosy Reports on War Zone

Last Updated on November 8, 2010.

While Gen. David Petraeus and his staff attempt to project a unified front of optimism on the war in Afghanistan, their are many in the State Department and the Pentagon who really know that all is not well with the administration’s surge in the desolated country. Per Elisabeth Bumiller in the latest edition of The New York Times:

The recent reports circulating in Washington’s national security establishment about the Afghan battleground of Marja show glimmerings of progress: bazaars are open, some 1,000 children are in school, and a new (and only) restaurant even serves goat curry and kebabs.

In Kandahar, NATO officials say that American and Afghan forces continue to rout the Taliban. In new statistics offered by American commanders in Kabul, Special Operations units have killed 339 midlevel Taliban commanders and 949 of the group’s foot soldiers in the past three months alone. At the Pentagon, the draft of a war assessment to be submitted to Congress this month cites a shift in momentum in some areas of the country away from the insurgency.

But as a new White House review of President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan gets under way, the rosy signs have opened an intense debate at the Defense Department, the White House, the State Department and the intelligence agencies over what they really mean. Are they indications of future success, are they fleeting and not replicable, or are they evidence that Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top United States and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is simply more masterful than his predecessor at shaping opinion?

Bumiller then gives us this gem:

A former C.I.A. official with longtime experience in Afghanistan said that the recent statements about American progress in Afghanistan reminded him of what was sometimes written about the Russians before they began withdrawing from Afghanistan in defeat in 1988, when they had been at war there for nearly 10 years.

“I don’t find many people I talk to who really believe any of this,” he said.

The rest of the article here.

November 8, 2010