There it was, the headline plastered on the front page of this morning's paper, "Gates sees Afghan Progress".
Was this a cruel joke? Was this reader missing something?
Between the reported lack of "progress" in the "Marja" offensive, the indefinite postponement of the larger "Kandahar" offensive, the "Wikileaks" expose of our wanton killing of innocents, rampant corruption by the Afghan government, the rivalry between Afghan army and police that sometimes turns deadly, the duplicity of the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI) with the Taliban we're fighting against and the earlier unguarded comments made by General Stanley McChrystal (and many of his staff) deriding Obama's inner circle civilian advisors (which got him fired), the term "progress" was not a word one would associate with the war in Afghanistan.
Reading the aforementioned news article further it quoted General Petraeus (while being interviewed on "Meet the Press") pointing to "pockets of progress".
Meanwhile, Gates interviewed on Thursday said, "There's no question in anybody's mind that we are going to begin drawing down troops in July 2011 but there hasn't even been a discussion of a steep decline quickly." Then (drum roll please!) he said, "It all depends on the conditions on the ground."
Well the "progress" that's being alluded to here is nothing more than a two pronged PR offensive that's tired and worn out. In fact it's taken from the same playbook that was used in Viet Nam.
Yah, this writer keeps referring to what "official pronouncements" he heard during the war in Viet Nam that ended for the U.S. in 1973 and prolonged unnecessarily by Nixon more than five years longer than necessary (requiring as he termed it "Peace with Honor"). Progress then was called "Vietnamization". In Afghanistan it's called" well just plain "progress".
It isn't gonna happen folks. You won't read that so plainly in your local newspaper. That publication, (restricted and inhibited by their unattainable requirement for "objectivity"), will give you their sterile "stenography" of Gates saying "progress", Petraeus saying "progress" without the critical thinking judgment of the writer. Just because these two "flacks" spout "progress" doesn't make it a veritable truth.
Our guys are fighting and dying unnecessarily in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, the reason for invading the country is longer there. Innocent Afghan's are being killed by us as well as by the Taliban killing those Afghans that side with us. The same thing happened in Viet Nam by the Viet Cong guerillas (now called terrorists and insurgents) that killed villagers that sided with the quisling South Viet Nam government.
We're dealing with an indigenous enemy in Afghanistan (as was the case in Viet Nam). The fighting is on their turf, their homeland and they fight desperately to the death (as you would if you were invaded and occupied). They blend in as necessary and are indistinguishable from the general population. They "melt away" into that general population when it is to their disadvantage to fight the enemy (us) choosing when and where to fight when it is to their advantage. We can't tell who is friend or foe. This will go on indefinitely. And it will not end well for us in Afghanistan as it didn't for the British and it didn't for the Soviets. Only American hubris and "exceptionalism" keeps us mired in wars we can't win.
George Santayana's words ring true today as they did when he first said them, "Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it."
His words ring true for us in Afghanistan, that "graveyard of empires".