WASHINGTON – The U.S. soldier who shot and killed 16 Afghani civilians Sunday didn’t just burn their corpses afterward – he also set fire to the cornerstone of American success in the country: Afghan trust.
The attack sparked outrage across Afghanistan and also from the government in Kabul. It came just weeks after American forces burnt Qurans at Bagram Airfield – an incident that incited violent protests across the country. Six American soldiers were killed in the aftermath, including two shot execution style by a supposedly friendly Afghan police officer.
Despite the tragedies, President Obama reaffirmed at the White House Wednesday the NATO plan to transition security lead to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.
“We’re going to complete this mission and we’re going to do it responsibly,” Obama said. “There are going to be multiple challenges along the way.”
Although the Pentagon points to relationships with the Afghani people, the government and security forces as its main barometers for an improving situation in Afghanistan, think tank experts tell a different story. Such metrics are overly subjective, they say, and reliable data in the country is scarce.
In a war with poorly articulated goals and few decisive battles, concrete measurements of progress are hard to find. The ambiguity of measurements in Afghanistan, coupled with the small amount of inconsistent information on the conflict, point to a decisive American defeat in the Afghanistan information war