The Washington Post, among many other news outlets, revealed leaks on a national intelligence report concerning Afghanistan. Here are the highlights:
A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017
The National Intelligence Estimate, which includes input from the country’s 16 intelligence agencies, predicts that the Taliban and other power brokers will become increasingly influential as the United States winds down its longest war in history
The report predicts that Afghanistan would likely descend into chaos quickly if Washington and Kabul don’t sign a security pact that would keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014
“In the absence of a continuing presence and continuing financial support,” the intelligence assessment “suggests the situation would deteriorate very rapidly,” said one U.S. official familiar with the report.
That conclusion is widely shared among U.S. officials working on Afghanistan
“I think what we’re going to see is a recalibration of political power, territory and that kind of thing,” said one U.S. official who felt the assessment was unfairly negative. “It’s not going to be an inevitable rise of the Taliban.”
A senior administration official said that the intelligence community has long underestimated Afghanistan’s security forces. “An assessment that says things are going to be gloomy no matter what you do, that you’re just delaying the inevitable, that’s just a view,” said the official. “I would not think it would be the determining view.”
The Obama administration has sought to get permission from Kabul to keep troops that would carry out counterterrorism and training missions beyond 2014. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States and has made demands that Washington calls unrealistic.
If Afghanistan is better off with the Taliban and the US should do everything to keep them down – as US policy will tell us – then perhaps there is a need to reevaluate. Of course, that requires dealing with the American public….