Just about a year ago, I noted a disturbing trend in reporting on Afghanistan: every single year was a critical turning point in the war, going back to 2002. 2011, we were told, was the turning point where things would either get better or get worse.
Anyway, now that it’s 2012 we have a fresh round of really critical turning points in the war. In December, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared that the U.S. was at a real turning point in the war in Afghanistan:
“I really think that for all the sacrifices that you’re doing, the reality is that it is paying off and that we’re moving in the right direction,” Panetta said. “We’re winning this very tough conflict here in Afghanistan.”
Panetta was less than 34 miles from the Pakistan border when he told U.S. troops they have reached a turning point in the war. He also demanded that Islamabad must do more to secure its side of the border.
And the last week or so of violent riots sparked off by the accidental cremation of several pre-defaced Korans out of the Bagram detention has inspired a new round of turning points:
Days of violent protests have seen Afghan security forces turn their weapons on US soldiers, rampaging demonstrators attack Western targets and NATO pull all its advisers out of government ministries. “It has never been as bad as this and it could be a turning point” in the West’s 10-year mission in the war-torn country, said Martine van Bijlert of the Afghanistan Analysts’ Network.
Anyway, we’re still turning.