Leaked Documents Show Eikenberry’s Opposition to Afghan Escalation

Cautioned Administration Hadn't Fully Studied Every Alternative

A set of leaked classified documents released today by the New York Times shows the extent to which US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry opposed the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

Ambassador Eikenberry, a retired general himself, detailed what he sees as major flaws in the strategy of General Stanley McChrystal, warning it would lead to “vastly increased costs and an indefinite, large-scale US military role in Afghanistan,” and cautioning that the administration hadn’t examined every alternative.

Though he conceded that the escalation might have some benefit in near-term counterinsurgency, he argued that it might actually do serious long term damage to the war effort by making the Karzai government even more dependent on the international occupation force.

The memos serve as a scathing indictment of the Karzai government, as the ambassador declared President Karzai “shuns responsibility for any sovereign burden” and would be happy to see US troops there forever. He cautioned that with Karzai’s reelection he would be even more set in his ways and the escalation would only reinforce his government’s belief that America is there for a “never-ending war on terror.”

Though it had been long known that Eikenberry had opposed the surge, the details surrounding his opposition had remained murky and it certainly had never been revealed to what lengths he had lobbied against it.

Yet in the end the Obama Administration rejected Eikenberry’s assessment, announcing in December a commitment of between 30,000 and 35,000 additional troops. Eikenberry has since predicted that the war will continue “long after 2011.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.