The other quagmire

A new CIA assessment makes clear that Afghanistan is sliding into an abyss on Bush's watch, too.

Topics: War Room,

The U.S. is facing “stark choices.” Averting failure will take “multiple years” and “multiple billions.”

Just about everyone realizes the dismal truth about Iraq by now, and it’s expected to be a driving force at the polls on Tuesday. But the above are the words of Ronald E. Neuman, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, in a report from the New York Times today detailing a dark assessment by the CIA of the current situation in Afghanistan. Indeed, it’s become increasingly clear that the Bush administration has also bungled what’s bitterly known to some troops on the ground there as the “forgotten war.”

The CIA says that the government led by President Hamid Karzai — who was long ago dubbed the “mayor of Kabul” — continues to have little authority or control beyond the capital city. Moreover, says the agency, increasing numbers of Afghans view Karzais government as corrupt, failing to deliver promised reconstruction and too weak to protect the country from rising Taliban attacks.



The CIA’s analysis is a grim sequel to the National Intelligence Estimate leaked to the media in September, which shredded for good the tattered pages of fiction about progress in Iraq from which the White House has kept right on reciting to the Amercian public. Just as that quagmire is now a global “cause célèbre for jihadists,” so, too, is an increasingly chaotic Afghanistan contributing to the greater vortex. The sharp increase in suicide attacks and roadside bombings there over the last couple of years, and over the last few months in particular, are tactics that have “migrated from Iraq,” according to a senior U.S. official cited by the Times. Until more recently, “there’s not been a tradition of suicide bombers” in Afghanistan, the official says, suggesting that they’ve arrived by way of the Internet and people traveling between the countries. “Psychologically,” the official says, “this has had a major impact.”

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>