In an interview with ABC News, General David Petraeus allowed ABC to spin their Afghanistan poll to put US efforts there in the best possible light, which made it possible for him to then come on camera and appear to be conservative with regard to whether an eventual “victory” can be declared. However, what we don’t hear in ABC’s framing or in Petraeus putting on his “aw, shucks” performance is that the poll also found that “Nationwide, more than half of Afghans interviewed said U.S. and NATO forces should begin to leave the country in mid-2011 or earlier.” Instead, we get only information that is slanted to give the best possible lighting for “progress” and a need to stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to give the government a chance to take over. In addition to Petraeus’ efforts to spin Afghanistan prior to the upcoming “review”, we find that the whole process is a sham and that the Obama administration is already sharing with the New York Times what the outcome of the “review” will be. Surprise, surprise, we are going to learn that progress has been made and that we need to continue fighting.
Here is more from the Times:
A senior defense official said Tuesday that a year-end White House review of American strategy in Afghanistan was expected to declare progress in the nine-year-old war and conclude that a surge in United States forces had expanded security in the south and around the capital, Kabul.
But the official said the review would also conclude that the fight was far from over, even though President Obama remained committed to beginning the withdrawal of some United States forces in July 2011. “Clearly, there is a good deal more to be done,” the official said.
Remarkably, though, the Times did allow an opinion different from Petraeus’ to appear in the same article. Here is General John F. Campbell, who commands US forces in eastern Afghanistan:
General Campbell said his troops were making progress, but “a lot of the reason we get attacked is because we’re up here.” The goal of United States forces is to disrupt insurgent activity in the border area, but the general said he wanted to get to the point where he could withdraw troops from the remote mountains and reposition them in small towns to try to win over the local people.
“People don’t want us up there, but they don’t want the Taliban either,” he said. “They want to be left alone.”
Gosh, we have actual poll data showing that Afghans want us to leave sooner rather than later and a General on the front lines pointing out the same thing based on his experience there. We also have the commander US forces in Afghanistan angling to stay there for the foreseeable future and an administration pre-announcing its “review” result that will support just such a position. It seems that General Campbell might as well be shouting to the wind in the mountains of Afghanistan for all the weight his observations will carry in the “review” that will take place in Washington.