Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good Timing

I happen to be on vacation when the apparent equivalent of the Pentagon Papers gets leaked.  Ooops. 
The documents cover the period from 2004 to 2009, and portray American forces as being starved for resources and battling an insurgency that was getter larger and better coordinated year by year.
Is either part of this really news?  Only sort of.  It has been very clear to observers that the US/NATO effort never had enough guys on the ground until recently, never had enough helos, drones, and other stuff to be effective, not to mention being limited by the restrictions (caveats and other limits) facing allies.  I think the idea that the insurgency has had a steady upward progress is deceptive.  COIN is a dynamic up and down process, so the effort has had some accomplishments, but the insurgency is obviously more effective now than five years ago.  

One side note: "The Times has spent a month examining the data for disclosures and patterns and verifying the information for the articles that it published Sunday."  Really?  Verifying information?  Why bother?  This seems admirably quaint in the aftermath of the Sherrod controversy.  Perhaps a little more due diligence is in order, me thinks.

That Pakistan has been playing a double-game (or triple or quadruple) is not a surprise, and the fact that we cannot do much about it is also widely known.  We face lots of poor alternatives with limited leverage.  That is just the way it is--superpower status has heaps of advantages, but getting Pakistan to do something is not one of them.

I have not read the stories about the leaks (just one meta-story) due to time constraints.  I will read the stuff when I get back to work, and think about them more.  I will suggest one thought now--this might not be bad for the Obama Administration because in 2011, a decision will have to be made.  More understanding is better than less, and it might facilitate a change in course, like getting out.  Not that I am suggesting that the administration was responsible for the leak.  Or that it wasn't.


Steve Greene said...

Of course, its not the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers. Make sure you catch Kaplan's take in Slate if you haven't yet.

Steve Saideman said...

Haven't gotten there yet, but already clear that much of this is already known. And people can cherry-pick to take what they want out of it.

Steve Saideman said...

A similar assessment with a spoiler for Wired, beware: