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August 12, 2009

Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch - The Jumping the Shark Version
Posted by Michael Cohen

Richard Holbrooke today at the St. Regis Hotel:

“The military struggle with U.S. troops is not an open-ended event, but our civilian assistance will continue,” Holbrooke said. Stressing the interagency coordination represented by the ten officials flanking Holbrooke on the panel at Washington’s St. Regis Hotel, Holbrooke said that while the United States had to be “clear about what our national interests are,” ultimately, success would require taking a “Supreme Court test” — “We’ll know it when we see it.”

Well I don't know about you guys, but I feel a lot better . . .

If our special envoy to the region cannot explain precisely what success in Afghanistan looks like then how has the US mission there not become completely unmoored ? I have become more and more convinced, in recent days, that the Administration has no clear sense of what the end game is Afghanistan and what they are trying to achieve there.  Day by day we are wading more deeply into what looks like a military and political quagmire for which we have no clear plan for success.

If anyone wasn't concerned about mission creep in Afghanistan before now they sure as heck should be after today.


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Vietnam, early 1972.

This is not something new. As I recorded at the time, when Sen. Webb asked General Petraues for an "operational" definition of victory, Petraues' reply was, "You know it when you see it."

Thus, the sad thing about Holbrooke's quote is not that it was the best thing the men in charge of this campaign could come up with. The sad thing is that after four months of strategic reviews, it is still the best thing the men in charge of this campaign could come up with.

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