Though much has been made of the importance of the July 2011 drawdown date in Afghanistan, the fact that officials have been disavowing it for months seems not to matter to the overall narrative that the date exists and something good is going to happen then.
We see the same thing in Iraq, of course, where President Obama’s August 2010 date has come and, amid much fanfare, nothing has really happened.
Oh, sure, the administration has trumpeted the date as the end of the Iraq War, and is making a big deal of its victory, but this myth is only skin deep. The redefining of combat troops as “transition troops” makes no difference so long as combat continues, and Iraqi Army officials openly talk of needing the US troops until at least 2020.
The fact that few have called the president on this as he trumpted the “end” of the war is particularly troubling when the State Department is busily building a second US Army of its own that it plans to keep in Iraq for years after the next drawdown date, the one that was supposed to be etched in stone.
There is a growing belief that the administration is aiming to shoehorn the Iraq strategy on Afghanistan in more ways than one, and that they will try to spin something done in July of next year as real progress toward ending the war in Afghanistan.