The Afghan people at the mercy of bogus time-lines

This is how the US political website Politico, in its daily email, reported yesterday’s Obama administration media appearances to sell the Afghan “surge”. Who really runs the show, the generals or Obama himself? More importantly, do the Afghans themselves really matter to the so-called journalists asking the questions?

SECRETARIES CLINTON AND GATES TAPED JOINT INTERVIEWS yesterday with the three broadcast networks, producing the HuffPost banner: ‘HE SAID, THEY SAID: Clinton, Gates Contradict Obama’s ‘Locked In’ Date For Afghan Draw-Down.’

–CBS’s Bob Schieffer, to Secretary Gates, on ‘Face the Nation’: ‘Mr. Secretary, is there a deadline or is there not?’
GATES: ‘There isn’t a deadline. What we have is a specific date on which we will begin transferring responsibility for security district by district, province by province, in Afghanistan to the Afghans.’

–Secretary Gates, from downtown, to Schieffer: ‘We are not going to abandon Afghanistan like we did in 1989. But the nature of the relationship will change.’

–Secretary Clinton, to Schieffer: ‘We want to show urgency about our aims here. And we do expect to start this transition in July 2011. And I think everybody is very clear about that. All of the generals are. We certainly are. But it’s hard to sit here today in Washington and predict exactly what that pace will be.’

–Secretary Clinton, to NBC’s David Gregory, on ‘Meet the Press’: ‘We’re not talking about an exit strategy or a drop-dead deadline. What we’re talking about is an assessment that in [July] 2011, we can begin a transition … to hand off responsibility to the Afghan forces. That is what eventually happened in Iraq. You know, we’re gonna be out of Iraq. We have a firm deadline, because the Iraqis believe that they can assume and will assume responsibility for their own future. We want the Afghans to feel the same sense of urgency. We want them to actually make good on what President Karzai said in his inaugural speech, which is that by five years from now they’ll have total control for their defense.’

–David Gregory, to Secretary Gates: ‘You said when you were last on the program, back in March, that you considered it a challenge — the notion that you might stay on for the entire first terms as Secretary of Defense. What do you say now?’
GATES: ‘I’d say that’s a challenge.’ (LAUGH)
GREGORY: ‘Will you see this war through — the withdrawal of troops through?’
GATES: ‘I think that’s probably up to the president.’ (LAUGH)

–ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, to Secretary Gates, on ‘This Week’: ‘When was the last time we’ve had any good intelligence on where [Osama bin Laden] was?’
GATES: ‘I think it has been years.’
GATES: ‘I think so.’

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