State Dept. Official On Afghanistan: ‘Nobody Can Tell Me It’s Not Going In A Positive Direction’

In a Senate hearing today on Afghanistan, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher proclaimed, “There is progress. It’s going in the right direction.” Boucher said Afghanistan now has “a government that works fairly well,” a “quality” police force, a growing “cell phone market,” and even residents who are “furnishing houses.” He concluded:

So, I see all these efforts. Nobody can tell me it’s not going in a positive direction.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/01/boucher2.320.240.flv]

Yesterday, however, three major reports said just that, each concluding that the situation in Afghanistan is eroding quickly. “Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan,” said a military report chaired by ret. Gen. James Jones and Thomas Pickering. Boucher said he partly “disagreed” with the conclusions of the reports, which said:

Jones-Pickering Report: “The progress achieved after six years of international engagement is under serious threat.” [LINK]

Atlantic Council Report: “Afghanistan remains a dangerously neglected conflict in a Washington transfixed by Iraq. … On the security side, a stalemate of sorts has taken hold.” [LINK]

National Defense University Report: “It is our assertion that the current Afghan government and its allies, principally NATO and the United States, are not winning the battle in the civil sector.” [LINK]

Over the past year, the situation in Afghanistan has dramatically deteriorated. Violence has jumped 27 percent. Suicide bombings rose to 140 in 2007, compared with five between 2001 and 2005. Coalition and Afghan civilian casualties have reached “the highest level since 2001.”