Afghanistan in 'downward spiral' - NIE

The draft of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been leaked and the verdict is grim:

The classified report finds that the breakdown in central authority in Afghanistan has been accelerated by rampant corruption within the government of President Hamid Karzai and by an increase in violence by militants who have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks from havens in Pakistan.

The report, a nearly completed version of a National Intelligence Estimate, is set to be finished after the November elections and will be the most comprehensive American assessment in years on the situation in Afghanistan. Its conclusions represent a harsh verdict on decision-making in the Bush administration, which in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Afghanistan the central focus of a global campaign against terrorism.

Beyond the cross-border attacks launched by militants in neighboring Pakistan, the intelligence report asserts that many of Afghanistan's most vexing problems are of the country's own making, the officials said.

The report cites gains in the building of Afghanistan's national army, the officials said. But they said it also laid out in stark terms what it described as the destabilizing impact of the booming heroin trade, which by some estimates accounts for 50 percent of Afghanistan's economy.

There is nothing new in this, although it may come as a surprise to those who thought that NATO might have been muddling along alright. Bill Roggio, who just returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reporting the grim facts about the huge problems facing the Afghan government as well as the problems Pakistan has been having in their own fight with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the NWFP tribal regions.

As the report will indicate, corruption - which was the downfall of many an Afghan government in the past - is now out of control thanks to our inability to destroy the poppy fields. It is at the point now that if we tried it, the Afghan economy would collapse.

Not an optimum situation to say the least.

There will no doubt be much criticism of NATO in the NIE as well there should be. NATO is failing. There are not enough combat soldiers and what little help they are offering is not being followed up. Once the Taliban is cleared from an area and these reconstruction teams move in, things are temporarily better. But once NATO leaves and the Afghan army takes over security, the Taliban try and move back in thus necessitating the diversion of resources from somewhere else to deal with the incursion. Almost all the combat operations in Afghanistan have been carried out by the US, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and France, having the only troops who are authorized to go into harms way (the French have several hundred special forces in the north who have joined the battle but their regular army units steer clear of combat). This is outrageous but it is a situation that will not change. Europeans are terrified of left wing agitation if casualties get too high.

The next president will be faced with a choice; send more troops to Afhganistan in some kind of replay of the surge that worked so well in Iraq or withdraw and leave the Taliban in charge. The only sure thing is that we cannot continue as we are now. That way will lead to disaster.






The draft of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been leaked and the verdict is grim:

The classified report finds that the breakdown in central authority in Afghanistan has been accelerated by rampant corruption within the government of President Hamid Karzai and by an increase in violence by militants who have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks from havens in Pakistan.

The report, a nearly completed version of a National Intelligence Estimate, is set to be finished after the November elections and will be the most comprehensive American assessment in years on the situation in Afghanistan. Its conclusions represent a harsh verdict on decision-making in the Bush administration, which in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Afghanistan the central focus of a global campaign against terrorism.

Beyond the cross-border attacks launched by militants in neighboring Pakistan, the intelligence report asserts that many of Afghanistan's most vexing problems are of the country's own making, the officials said.

The report cites gains in the building of Afghanistan's national army, the officials said. But they said it also laid out in stark terms what it described as the destabilizing impact of the booming heroin trade, which by some estimates accounts for 50 percent of Afghanistan's economy.

There is nothing new in this, although it may come as a surprise to those who thought that NATO might have been muddling along alright. Bill Roggio, who just returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan has been reporting the grim facts about the huge problems facing the Afghan government as well as the problems Pakistan has been having in their own fight with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the NWFP tribal regions.

As the report will indicate, corruption - which was the downfall of many an Afghan government in the past - is now out of control thanks to our inability to destroy the poppy fields. It is at the point now that if we tried it, the Afghan economy would collapse.

Not an optimum situation to say the least.

There will no doubt be much criticism of NATO in the NIE as well there should be. NATO is failing. There are not enough combat soldiers and what little help they are offering is not being followed up. Once the Taliban is cleared from an area and these reconstruction teams move in, things are temporarily better. But once NATO leaves and the Afghan army takes over security, the Taliban try and move back in thus necessitating the diversion of resources from somewhere else to deal with the incursion. Almost all the combat operations in Afghanistan have been carried out by the US, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and France, having the only troops who are authorized to go into harms way (the French have several hundred special forces in the north who have joined the battle but their regular army units steer clear of combat). This is outrageous but it is a situation that will not change. Europeans are terrified of left wing agitation if casualties get too high.

The next president will be faced with a choice; send more troops to Afhganistan in some kind of replay of the surge that worked so well in Iraq or withdraw and leave the Taliban in charge. The only sure thing is that we cannot continue as we are now. That way will lead to disaster.