The core aspect of the Afghan surge strategy has failed, according to U.S. officials: there is no hope of a peace arrangement with the Taliban before troops leave. Instead, the U.S. has lowered expectations, saying that progress will come through Afghan-led negotiation in 2014 or later.The New York Times reports:
The failure to broker meaningful talks with the Taliban underscores the fragility of the gains claimed during the surge of American troops ordered by President Obama in 2009. The 30,000 extra troops won back territory held by the Taliban, but by nearly all estimates failed to deal a crippling blow.Critics of the Obama administration say the United States also weakened its own hand by agreeing to the 2014 deadline for its own involvement in combat operations, voluntarily ceding the prize the Taliban has been seeking for over a decade. The Obama administration defends the deadline as crucial to persuading the Afghan government and military to assume full responsibility for the country, and politically necessary for Americans weary of what has already become the country’s longest war.
To us this sounds like a massive strategic collapse. As we noted earlier this week, if W were still president this would be the dominant story of the month: “President’s War Strategy a Flop.” We would see lots of follow up stories about families of soldiers who died to make the failed strategy work, and so on.Will we get that now? Or will the media let the failure slide quietly past?