“Muddling Through” by Center for American Progress
October 10, 2008, 1:00am

Asked in November 2003 whether the United States would “finish the job” in Afghanistan, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded “I’m not as concerned as I am about Iraq…but I believe that if Karzai can make the progress that he is making then in the long term we may muddle through in Afghanistan.” Unfortunately, “muddling through” is just what we seem to be doing in Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to be released in November “concludes that Afghanistan is in a ‘downward spiral’ and casts serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there.” The report will be “the most comprehensive American assessment in years on the situation in Afghanistan.” In addition to the problem of cross-border attacks launched by militants in neighboring Pakistan, and inefficiency and corruption in the Afghan government, the report also describes “the destabilizing impact of the booming heroin trade, which by some estimates accounts for 50 percent of Afghanistan’s economy,” according to intelligence officials. Afghanistan produces the most opium in the world.

From The Progress Report