Analysis and commentary on Afghanistan is pretty frustrating at the moment, mostly since I'm out of the country, but all the fuss over Petraeus, the Lisbon meeting this weekend and the upcoming December Strategic Review in the US. Finally put some thoughts to paper on how I see it:
The problem with milestones is that there’s always another one a little further down the road. Last week we had the NATO meeting in Lisbon, to be followed soon after by the long-anticipated December Strategic Review. I can recall back in February this year when think-tank "lifers" in Washington told me to sit tight in anticipation of the "big review" coming up in December which would deliver some much-needed policy changes. Now that we’re here the view seems much less rosy:
Last week a team led by Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the president’s Afghanistan adviser at the White House, returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan with data that will serve as a basis for Mr. Obama’s review of the war next month. General Petraeus is also assembling masses of data.
Those final five syllables should be enough to make even the most die-hard optimist take pause. Petraeus wants to present an empirically valid case for continuing along the current course -- the so-called "default position" turbo-charged with all the money and weapons the heart could ever want. Petraeus wants to use all these "masses of data" to make you believe five things, all of which are also more problematic than he’d have you believe.
Read the rest over at Current Intelligence.