We may not have another season of Mad Men this summer, but David Petraeus, now he’s more Don Draper than I think we can handle.
Who else could have pulled off the amazing PR-advertising stunt of selling the “progress” of the war in Afghanistan to Congress (at least long enough for them to shut up and keep writing the checks), not only this July as he left for his new digs at Langley, but in 2010 and at beginning of this year, while our efforts there have been so obviously futile, the surge a growing quagmire and our troops — not to mention civilians — in more peril than ever?
Petraeus has a famous line, copped by all of his surrogates inside and outside the military, that there is “progress,” yet it is “fragile and reversible.” Google it. It’s been repeated many times over the course of the last year, as though an incantation against the evil entity of truth. It’s a slippery rhetorical device that lets our Petraeus-Draper off the hook when the product doesn’t work. Like when we wake up this morning and see stories like this, about a place in which we had made “significant progress,” according to Petraeus only four weeks ago:
Kandahar, the beating, political heart of the Afghan south and bastion of Taliban strength, is a city perpetually on the brink.
Central to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, this vibrant yet volatile Pashtun capital continues to grapple with the destabilizing influence of billions of dollars of foreign aid, and the waves of political violence that plague its wide, tree-lined streets.
A Taliban assassination campaign targeting high-level leaders and allies of the president — including the president’s brother, Kandahar’s mayor, and the provincial chief of police in the past four months — has again thrust Afghanistan’s second-largest city toward the edge of chaos…
…“Security is not good right now and the people are afraid,” Haji Wafa Khan, a 50-year-old shopkeeper in Kandahar city, said. “The government is weak. The police are weak. What can we do? We have no hope for the future.”
Kandahar was supposed to be the jewel of the so-called southern surge strategy when Obama pledged 30,000 more troops in 2009. Now everything is falling apart there and as I wrote in Antiwar.com this morning, our troops are encountering more resistance — and incurring more frequent and horrific battlefield injuries — than ever. Meanwhile, Petraeus is off to spin another agency and we’re left behind with the fragile and reversible parts of his “progress.”
Thanks for the memories.