Who is winning Afghanistan war? US officials increasingly disagree.
Gen. David Petraeus is on Capitol Hill this week to give a positive message about the course of the Afghanistan war. But some key US officials disagree with his assessment.
In Pictures Fighting continues in Afghanistan
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As he appears in Washington, nearly two-thirds of Americans no longer believe that the Afghanistan war “has been worth fighting,” according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Moreover, there are distinct differences emerging between US commanders’ appraisal of US progress on the ground and that of US intelligence officials.
Some are particularly striking. Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, tends to point to “uneven progress” that remains “fragile and reversible," a description he used frequently for Iraq as well. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, he said there had been “significant” progress on the ground in Afghanistan.
“The momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas,” he added. He is expected to repeat these assurances before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.
Difference of opinion
Yet this view stands in contrast to the assessment that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, provided in their Senate testimony last week. Burgess, for his part, noted that while the Taliban is under more pressure than ever before, the insurgent group is resilient and tenacious, and that its influence remains pervasive throughout much of the country.
Although the Taliban have taken “tactical losses, they continue to maintain influence over much of the local population, particularly outside urban areas,” he told the committee.