Afghanistan

Afghanistan: A New, More Nuanced Assessment

The Obama administration will soon release 50 benchmarks to measure progress in Afghanistan. This report will be published on Sept. 24, a week after the election results are scheduled to be made official by the Independent Election Commission. According to this piece from AP writer Anna Gearan:

The Afghanistan benchmarks will be more detailed than the Iraq war scorecard used by the Bush administration, a senior administration official said Monday. The White House is circulating a classified version among key lawmakers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the unreleased document.

The old Iraq yardsticks had an all-or-nothing quality — either the Iraqi government passed a law governing oil resources or it didn’t. Many of those tests remain unmet, even as the war there has subsided and U.S. forces prepare to leave.

In writing the Afghan version, Obama advisers say they want to look more broadly, measuring not only what gets done but how well and on what schedule. The benchmarks will include short- and long-term goals. Some will probably be flagged by color — red for things going poorly, green for those going well, the official said.”

Given the unprecedented spike in American and allied casualties, the daily developments in Afghanistan that throw the legitimacy conferred on the new Afghan government by the recent election in doubt, and turning domestic opinion on Afghanistan in America and elsewhere, it should be curious to see how victory, (or better yet progress) will be defined.

Meanwhile, in another related development, high profile conservative pundits, most notably the right’s beloved bloviator George Will, are clamoring for substantial withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Why he and others are doing this now remains mysterious.

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