On the eve of the latest policy conference, top US and NATO officials have arrived in Kabul to pledge their support to the continuation of the Afghan War, with promises of an unending commitment to propping up the Karzai government going forward.
At the center of this new pledges, which look remarkably the same as the old pledges, is a new drawdown date in 2014. The date, which had actually been bandied about for over a year, was ostenisbly “leaked” in recent days to a number of key media outlets.
The date, which is “conditions-based” and “non-binding,” appears to be designed to accomplish little but replacing the July 2011 drawdown date, which has now been entirely abandoned by administration officials. The only apparent advantage to the 2014 date is that it is some four years hence and therefore far enough way as to not need to be immediately disavowed by any but the most hawkish officials.
So officials are now expressing their confidence in the 2014 victory, and the eventual security handover that will come at some point after it. In the meantime, the death toll in war continues to rise, and the promises of progress continue to seem more distant and more detached from reality.