Faced with growing domestic opposition and a soaring death toll, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates denied that the Afghan War was “slipping through the administration’s fingers” today, claiming that eight years into the war people needed to be patient and give the them time to show that “this approach is working.”
Despite his newfound confidence in the ever worsening war, Secretary Gates said he was open to adding additional troops to the 103,000 US and foreign troops already under General Stanley McChrystal’s command in the conflict. He said however that he expected the troops to start making some headway, at some point.
It seems hard to imagine that the administration can make a successful case that the current approach is working, not only because of record violence in Afghanistan, but also because Admiral Michael Mullen only last week declared that the military was essentially “starting over” in Afghanistan.
There seems to be a growing disconnect between administration confidence in the disastrous conflict and military admissions that the situation is continually worsening. Citing the record violence, Gen. McChrystal is pressing for another “new” strategy and up to 20,000 additional troops, and Afghans are bracing for post-vote violence even as top US envoy Richard Holbrooke is claiming the disputed election was a great “success” for international forces and a defeat for the Taliban.