Afutilestan XIII: The Year In Review

As Commander in Chief wanna be Sarah Palin might put it: How’s that surge thingy workin out for ya, Mr. President?

Not so good, as The Wall Street Journal reports this week:

Internal United Nations maps show a marked deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan during this year’s fighting season, countering the Obama administration’s optimistic assessments of military progress since the surge of additional American forces began a year ago.

The Wall Street Journal was able to view two confidential “residual risk accessibility” maps, one compiled by the U.N. at the annual fighting season’s start in March 2010 and another at its tail end in October. The maps, used by U.N. personnel to gauge the dangers of travel and running programs, divide the country’s districts into four categories: very high risk, high risk, medium risk and low risk.

In the October map, just as in March’s, virtually all of southern Afghanistan—the focus of the coalition’s military offensives—remained painted the red of “very high risk,” with no noted security improvements. At the same time, the green belt of “low risk” districts in northern, central and western Afghanistan shriveled considerably.

In his blog today, Prof Cole compiles the top ten myths about Afghanistan. Number Nine is particularly instructive, as it shows that another pillar of General St. Petraeus‘  counter-insurgency strategy, the support of the local populace, is crumbling:

9. Afghans want the US and NATO troops to stay in their country because they feel protected by them.

Fact: In a recent poll, only 36% of Afghans said they were confident that US troops could provide security. Only 32% of Afghans now have a favorable view of the United States’ aid efforts in their country.

As the chart below shows, President Obama’s honeymoon with the Afghan people is over. Seems they had decided to give him a year to improve things, as the uptrend during ’09 shows. But 2010 shows another reversal, tracking the same slope of decline as had occurred under Bush since 2005.

Meanwhile, some 500 US troops were killed in Afghanistan this year. The US taxpayer spent over a $100 billion to keep the war machine running. Additional billions more were given to Pakistan’s military, the Taliban’s main protector.  And St. Petraeus effectively moved the troop removal date from 2011 to 2014.

So goes America’s longest war ever.

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