By Nature, Whispers Defy Clarity
The story defies logic and belief, but unfortunately if the US State Department (or the White House) hasn't responded clearly and forcefully to unequivocally deny the allegations yet, now would be a good time to do that, too. The current administration has elected to conduct its Afghanistan business via leaks and rumors. Presidential decrees that they're "not appropriate" are correct - but insufficient. Among other complications the practice lends credence to stories like this one. Because of that, regardless of source, and no matter how foolish or self-destructive a rumored course of action might appear, the sliver of doubt that it's a complete fabrication exists.
And in this case that "sliver" can grow to damaging size; the interpretation of described events as "whispers of surrender" unfortunately doesn't seem at all far-fetched, and that thought has probably crossed the minds of allies and potential allies alike.
Along with leaks from others, remarks by the president that are "open to interpretation" have been the hallmark of the administration's cloudy national security 'policy'. So clarity would certainly be a welcome change, too.
Pay special attention to the bolded reference to "potential allies" above (emphasis mine.) Greyhawk nails it. A little bit of clarity goes a long way, both with the Afghan people and the American people.
Whether the president's delay is based primarily upon a lack of depth of knowledge and comfort level with the subject matter, or upon simply being too nuanced by half, the first casualty is clarity. The next is the Afghan people. And the next are our own troops as Afghan civilians side quite logically with who they perceive to be the last man standing in the darkness of a cold Afghan night.
Put yourself in the shoes of an Afghan in a remote village. What, after such "smart diplomacy" executed by un-secretive public whisper campaigns of leaks and rumors, compels you to risk life, limb and your children's throats and jugulars to assist or side with a supposed ally who so loudly demonstrates a desire to leave (read: abandon them) as a strategic motivating factor?
Better for men's families to live as reluctant allies to a dominant Taliban than to die gruesome deaths as their traitors.
This administration can ramble on all it wants about the government in Kabul. That's a rather easy task and a large stationary target. But the key to - dare say - winning is security for the people.
No trust, no dice.
The absence of trust among Afghans will cost us life and limb of sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines on a muddled battlefield.
The absence of trust among Americans will cost every Commander In Chief his next election.
UPDATE: Jim Hansen at Blackfive has this to say.
Like I said this is a sole source so far, but sadly it fits in with Eikenberry's strategically leaked messages stabbing Gen. McChrystal in the back by calling for no reinforcements. It also offers President Obama the opportunity to start the exfil from the country and avoid having to attempt to win.
Just a question that pops into my meager little brain, what do we think the Taliban will do if we surrender the 5 provinces to them? Renounce their avowed goal of an Islamic State leading to a larger Caliphate? Settle down and become kindly goat herders studying the Koran in pursuit of peace?
orTake this as another sign of the weak horse status of the declining United States? A sign to Pakistan that there is no point to their continuing operations against their own Taliban? A good time for the Talibs to declare Greater Pashtunistan on both sides of the border?
Even The Anchoress, primarily a political and religious Catholic blogger, weighs in.
I suggest the Taliban will not be able to keep its end of this face-saving bargain, and that the whole tactic is simply a way to blow smoke in front of our faces.
Understand, it's not that I love war; I don't. I hate war. But pulling out of a theater before accomplishing the serious goal of utterly disabling an enemy and coaxing their surrender does two very detrimental things in war:
First, it sends a message that resonates to an enemy like Al Qaeda, which understands only power: we are again a weak horse.Second: It tells the families who have lost sons and daughters in Afghanistan that their loved ones deaths were in vain, because the enemy is still able to thrive and nothing has changed.