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The Other "Mission Accomplished"

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Almost no one remembers this, but about an hour after George W. Bush’s flight-suit strut across the deck of the Lincoln, Donald Rumsfeld appeared in Kabul with Hamid Karzai and announced that the war in Afghanistan had all but concluded. Thus spake Rummy:

The president of the United States and General Franks and I have been looking at the progress that’s being made in this country and in cooperation with President Karzai have concluded that we’re at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.

The bulk of this country today is permissive, it’s secure. It is clear that that’s the case by virtue of the fact that we see people returning to their country from all across the globe.

At the time of these remarks, the media were still experimenting with auto-erotic asphyxiation after The Decider’s first campaign event of the 2004 election season stirring address to the men and women of the Navy. Most Americans were unaware at the time that the Bush administration — after deploying Marshall Plan nostalgia to the rebuilding effort in Afghanistan — had simply failed to include any funding for humanitarian aid and reconstruction in its 2003 budget proposal. (Congress later appropriated $300 million to correct the error.)

Over the summer of 2003, as Rumsfeld’s words were lost in the daily stream of insane babble issuing from the mouths of Bush administration officials, Taliban forces regathered themselves, replenishing their forces from the madrassas in Pakistan from which their movement had originally sprung. To put a fine point on a long story, by 2006 the promised “stability” in Afghanistan had failed to transpire. In that year, more that 5000 attacks — suicide bombings, IED’s, direct-fire incidents — were launched against Afghan and coalition forces. Meantime, reconstruction efforts lagged badly, with much-needed resources and attention diverted to the hideous war in Iraq.

One of the great measures of the United States’ failure in Afghanistan has been the resurgence of the drug economy. In 2005, the US sank $782 million into counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan. By 2007, Afghanistan had reclaimed its position as the world’s largest opium producer, with 90 percent of “God’s own medicine” entering the global market from the the country, three quarters of whose provinces were blanketed with poppies.

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