Estimates, Expert Assessments Don't Support Optimism
When speaking publicly about the Afghan War, the Bush Administration and since then the Obama Administration have been an endless parade of optimistic statement, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today insisting that the 2014 transition is “on track.”
Clinton conceded difficult days ahead but insisted that there had been significant progress in a number of fronts on Afghanistan. British Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw sought to back this up, cheering the “game-changer” that is reintegration of Taliban into society, saying that some 5,000 insurgents have been reintegrated and that the remaining insurgency is between 30,000 and 35,000 strong.
Which sounds like a meaningful portion, except that the “remaining” assessments keep getting worse year after year. In 2008 the US claimed 20,000 Taliban, and then upped it to 25,000 in 2009. The surge has since come and gone, thousands of Taliban have been killed, and 5,000 reintegrated, and it is still bigger than it was before.
Clinton’s claims of progress did not focus primarily on the military but instead emphasized difficult to gauge metrics like education and women’s rights in Afghanistan. But 11 years in, the war looks no closer to being completed.
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