NATO’s Timely Yet Dubious ‘Progress’ in Afghanistan

After Another Year of Empty Promises, Will Winter Lull Be Sold as Victory Again?

Following another record year of violence, a key NATO conference and the Obama Administration’s promised “year end review” are on the horizon. But military commanders are pretty sure they’re about to be able to show “progress” of some sort in the Afghan War, just in the nick of time.

Not so coincidentally the conferences are scheduled for a very convenient time, as the winter frost is about the set in and violence always drops precipitously as most of the nation becomes unpassable. The drop will be a helpful “vindication” for the escalation and the real test, what happens next spring, is still a long way away.

The groundwork for the story is already being prepared, with officials letting slip claims about massive death tolls of “Taliban commanders” and “routs” driving Taliban forces from key regions.

The timing of those stories are also very convenient, but indeed those same claims could have been (and in many cases have actually been) made at virtually every other point since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

NATO troops have been killing massive numbers of presumptive “commanders” for over nine years now, and their major operations have almost exclusively amounted to chasing Taliban out of their “key regions.” One of the major villages recently captured by US troops in Kandahar has been occupied six separate times by NATO forces since the war began. Each time it was considered a watershed moment, and each time the troops eventually move on, and the insurgents move back.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of