Speaking today to the American Legion, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates insisted that all is not well in Afghanistan and that it won’t necessarily be well going forward, warning “this is not a time for premature victory parades” just hours before President Obama delivered his formal victory speech.
Gates’ warning focused on the political paralysis in the country, as some six months after the March 7 election there is still no government in Iraq, and a number of attempts at coalitions have collapsed in failure.
But even more pressing than the failure of Iraqis to form a government is the rising level of violence, as literally hundreds of Iraqis have been slain in the past two weeks. July was also the deadliest month in Iraq in over two years.
Gates’ comments may not be particularly welcome, however, as the Obama Administration seems to have settled on the war being “over” despite the massive numbers of US troops still on the ground. President Obama repeatedly declared that it was time to “turn the page” on Iraq, and his Secretary of Defense’s unpleasant reminders of just how bad the war still is seems off-message in that regard.