The New York Times is reporting that the Bush Administration held a secret meeting two weeks ago to brief advisers from the campaigns of both Republican Presidential nominee John McCain and his Democratic Party counterpart Barack Obama on the ever-deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Though the details of the meeting were not classified, the participants agreed not to discuss to content of the briefings or the discussions publicly.
But whatever the details of the meeting, the overall tone could hardly be anything but pessimistic. With a resurgent Taliban, an increasingly disillusioned population, British officials talking about the need to prop up an “acceptable dictator” and America’s own National Intelligence Estimate declaring the situation in a “downward spiral,” there are few sources of positive viewpoints on the war seven year after its beginning: Gen. McKiernan’s belief that the pessimism stems from an unfair media notwithstanding.
The main clue to the content is a comment by an anonymous official who participated, and said “if the new administration spends three months trying to figure out what to do, it’s too late.” Admiral Mullen has predicted the situation will be even worse next year, while Gen. McKiernan believes that more troops are needed “as quickly as possible.”
So far, the administration’s “new” strategy has been to escalate the war on the nation’s drug trade and to launch an increasing number of unilateral attacks into neighboring Pakistan, while both candidates seem at a loss what to do besides throwing more troops at the problem.
There has been some suggestion that the US would participate in peace talks with the Taliban, but the US has since ruled out including the most significant Taliban figures and will reportedly not consider the only thing the Taliban appears to seek: the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, making it unclear what those talks could possibly accomplish.