Filed under politics… Afghanistan

Jake Grovum

A conglomeration of national news from the campaign trail, Alaska to Washington and, yes, even Wall Street to Main Street, “Filed under politics…” will aim to aggregate and contextualize national news for the political junkie in you. Classified study says Afghanistan in “downward spiral” The situation on the ground in Afghanistan has deteriorated amid “rampant corruption” within the government of President Hamid Karzai and “increasingly sophisticated” attacks from militants originating in Pakistan, according to a New York Times story published today. Update: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs echoes the Times report, according to The Hill and The Times. While the national intelligence estimate — a document reflecting consensus judgment among the 16 American intelligence agencies, according to the Times — is damning in its own right, with less than a month to go in the presidential race the report from the Times could have ramifications far beyond just the Defense Department and intelligence agencies and draw new attention to the situation on Afghanistan. With the financial crisis, the war in Iraq has become less of a campaign issue recently, also in part due to the decrease in violence there. But news that Afghanistan is in such disarry could hurdle the issue back into the campaign and news narratives, perhaps acting as that “second issue” people talk about, after the financial crisis, of course. Interestingly enough, neither Senator Barack Obama or John McCain have an “Afghanistan” option under “Issues” on their campaign websites. Instead, you have to go to under “Iraq” for Obama’s stance and McCain appears to not have a page or even a section of one devoted to that other war going on. Throughout the campaign, Obama has called the war in Afghanistan the central battlefield in the war on terror and “The War We Need to Win” as he did in this speech given in Washington Aug. 1, 2007. More recently he has become increasingly pointed in his proposed policies toward the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On the other hand, McCain has obviously made Iraq his focal point on defense since he won the political equivalent to an “all-in” gamble with his early support for the so-called “surge” in Iraq. Still, they have both called for increased troops, McCain for a similar surge-like strategy and Obama for increased U.S. military presence there as a result of drawbacks from Iraq.. The issue of Afghanistan was the subject of some back-and-forth between both McCain, Obama and their respective running mates in recent debates. Meanwhile, U.S. officials are worried that by the time either McCain or Obama get into office the situation could be beyond repair, a Washington Post story said today. So far today, the campaigns haven’t appeared to address the report, but I’m sure they will and I’ll update it when they do. The questions I’m interested in: In the face of a turn toward Obama across the country and the state, according to recent polls, how does the study affect the candidates, given their previous statements? And, how will they spin the news to show each has the “experience” necessary to see this coming? Based on what’s been said, I think the last point goes to Obama, the first? Time will tell. Jake Grovum Projects Editor