Taliban’s Momentum Slowed but not “Broken,” Mr. President
During Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama largely glossed over the ongoing war in Afghanistan, where nearly 100,000 American soldiers are fighting to prevent the reemergence of a terrorist safe haven in the region.
He did, however, deliver a misleading statement on the subject in declaring that “the Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.” The President’s inaccurate statement was duly noted by the Associated Press’s SOTU fact check, which highlighted findings of the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Afghanistan. The classified NIE, representing the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, reportedly declares the war a “stalemate” for the time being but also warns that as the U.S. precipitously withdraws, the Taliban will grow stronger, bolder, and more threatening.
The NIE notes that although the international security forces have succeeded in slowing the Taliban’s momentum and ousting them from certain population centers, the Afghan government’s low credibility, pervasive corruption, and weak authority have created a fundamental distrust between Kabul and Afghans in Taliban-heavy areas, undermining U.S. gains. In addition, the NIE warns that with its safe havens in neighboring Pakistan, the Taliban will continue to rule the countryside.