Gates Spins Increased Violence In Afghanistan As A ‘Manifestation’ That The Taliban ‘Has Lost’

gates1.jpgIn two major reports released this week, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones concludes that “progress achieved after six years” in Afghanistan “is under serious threat.” “Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan,” said the Jones-led the report by the Atlantic Council.

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates attempted to spin the negative downturn in Afghanistan, claiming that “NATO has had a very successful year in 2007” and that the significant increase in suicide bombings in 2007 was the “manifestations of a group that has lost in regular military terms“:

Gates conceded there’s “a rising security issue” there, but said “it’s because the Taliban are turning to terrorism, having failed in conventional military conflict with the NATO allies.”

“And so we are seeing more suicide bombings, more use of (improvised explosive devices), and so on. These are actions of people whose conventional military efforts have failed,” he said. “The rise in violence and attacks like we saw in Kabul are manifestations of a group that has lost in regular military terms in 2007 and is turning to terrorism as a substitute for that.”

Arguing that increased acts of violence are signs of progress is a common Bush administration tactic:

– In June 2007, then-White House Press Secretary Tony Snow described intense new levels of violence in Iraq as “signs of success.”

– After the Samarra Mosque was bombed in 2006 — setting off a wave of sectarian violence in Iraq that verged on civil war — Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed the attack as a sign that insurgents had “reached a stage of desperation.”

– In May 2005, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared that “So suicide attacks, whether in Okinawa or in Baghdad today, are not a sign of strength. They’re a sign of desperation.”

– In March 2004, “in a trio of interviews with cable news outlets yesterday,” Vice President Cheney “brushed off the attacks as a sign of ‘desperation’ among U.S. foes.”

A true sign of desperation is an administration trying to equate increasing acts of violence with “signs of success.”