Rosie DiManno is a complete idiot and I'm not even going to read her drivel let alone critique it. I don't know who Max Boot is, but Commentary has been advocating USA-Israeli imperialism in the Middle East since the 1970s, so it's pretty telling when a "progressive" has to turn to it to justify "the mission" (tm). Still, Boot hasn't proven himself to be beneath my consideration so I'll give it a look-see.
The article is entitled "Afghanistan is better than you think" and is based on the premise that all the bad news from Afghanistan is just like all the bad news from Iraq. In fact, Boot takes the fact that the one story he uses as an example was filed from Paris to insinuate that all the negative reporting must be coming from naysayers who won't bother to actually visit the country. We can dismiss that nonsense with some in-country examples, here, here, and here.
We heard the same things about the reporting from Iraq for years and years and years. Except for the brain-dead imbeciles on the right-wing of the internet and the odd hack, most mainstream and alternative press outlets reported an unmitigated stream of bad news because the news was bad. But what does Boot have to say is the real situation in Afghanistan?
I have just returned from Afghanistan shocked by the depth of the disconnect between reality and reporting.
The coalition officers that I spoke with expressed confidence that with the U.S. reinforcements now flowing into the country, they will be able to score victories against insurgents who have been given free reign in some areas because of a paucity of NATO resources. But even before the 17,000 additional U.S. troops arrive, the situation is hardly critical. Kabul and the other major cities are safe, and even large swathes of the countryside are hardly infested by insurgents.
Wow. Except for the odd suicide bombing the major cities are safe and there are "large swathes" (an imprecise expression to say the least) of the countryside that are "hardly infested" with armed rebel gunmen. Please Mr. Boot, define "large." Define "swathes." Define "hardly." Remind me never to let Max Boot to try to sell me a vacuum cleaner okay? "See how well it works sir? There are significant areas of your carpet that hardly have any dirt at all now!"
Boot tries to argue that Obama's proposed surge of 17,000 troops is going to significantly improve the situation in Afghanistan because it helps to bring the troops-to-population ratio up to where it should be to guarantee an effective counterinsurgency campaign. Boot then tries (condescendingly) to explain that this reasoning (advocated by himself and other prescient thinkers) had brought about the success of bush II's surge in Iraq. But bush II's surge of 30,000 troops only brought trooplevels up to the levels they'd been at at the beginning of the conflict (170,000 to 190,000). If those early levels weren't enough to contain the violence how can one say that they provided a sufficient ratio to contain it later? Furthermore, that surge peaked at 170,000 troops and it's been around 140-150,000 troops since then. Roughly the average number for most of the conflict. Boot babbles witlessly about the "Anbar Awakening" and sundry issues but the saner sources I read argue that the intense levels of violence in Baghdad have lowered because the "ethnic cleansing" between Sunnis and Shiites has declined in the face of the reality that there's hardly anyone left to kill. Two million of those potential targets have fled the country. And the "Anbar Awakening" was really just the US government convincing (with bribes) Sunni leaders (sick of Al Qaeda and exhausted from the struggle) to stop fighting them.
Iraq remains a hell-hole of violence and a stunning disaster of US foreign policy. Boot's ability to present this nightmare as evidence of his foreign policy wisdom is revealing. That others will point to his blinkered analysis to justify further violence in Afghanistan is really sad.