The National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan is nearing completion, and while as reported before the document will be classified, the New York Times has spoken with officials privy to the contents of a draft version of the report, and offers some new insights on it.
A previous report described the draft only as “grim,” the New York Times reports that the draft concludes that Afghanistan is in a “downward spiral” and warns that the rampant corruption of the Afghan government is putting their ability to curb the Taliban’s growing influence in doubt.
Former CIA and State Department official Henry Crumpton said the situation in Afghanistan was “bad and getting worse” and said it had taken a “long time” for officials to realize it. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe also said “everyone understands that the current situation in Afghanistan is a tough one. That’s why the president ordered additional troops there.” The president approved a Pentagon recommendation last month which put off planned Iraqi troop cuts until sometime in early 2009, at which time 4,500 troops might be sent to Afghanistan.
Besides the NIE, the United Nations Special Envoy and multiple British officials have expressed similarly pessimistic assessments of the situation in the seven year long war. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has cautioned against what he termed a “defeatist” outlook. President Bush has also downplayed the violence and touted the “progress” he sees being made.