The Bush Administration has consistently invoked Afghanistan as a success story—an example of the President’s determination. However, it is making this claim in the face of renewed warnings, from international organizations, from allies, and from within its own military—notably a Pentagon-commissioned report that was left in bureaucratic limbo when its conclusions proved negative—that the situation there is deteriorating rapidly.
In late 2002, the Defense Department’s office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (solic) asked retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, a leading military expert in unconventional warfare, to examine the planning and execution of the war in Afghanistan, with an understanding that he would focus on Special Forces. As part of his research, Rothstein travelled to Afghanistan and interviewed many senior military officers, in both Special Forces and regular units. He also talked to dozens of junior Special Forces officers and enlisted men who fought there. His report was a devastating critique of the Administration’s strategy. He wrote that the bombing campaign was not the best way to hunt down Osama bin Laden and the rest of the Al Qaeda leadership, and that there was a failure to translate early tactical successes into strategic victory. In fact, he wrote, the victory in Afghanistan was not, in the long run, a victory at all.
Rothstein delivered his report in January. It was returned to him, with the message that he had to cut it drastically and soften his conclusions. He has heard nothing further...[Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense] Joseph Collins told me, "There may be a kernel of truth in there, but our experts found the study rambling and not terribly informative." In interviews, however, a number of past and present Bush Administration officials have endorsed Rothstein's key assertions. "It wasn't like he made it up," a former senior intelligence officer said. "The reason they're petrified is that it's true, and they didn't want to see it in writing."
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.