"In the intelligence business, we always used to categorize information in two ways, secrets and mysteries," Gates, a former CIA director, told a Pentagon news conference.
He added: "Mysteries were those where there were too many variables to predict. And I think that how long U.S. forces will be in Afghanistan is in that area."
He said his top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is free to ask for whatever he needs, but Gates said when the general submits a revised war plan in the coming weeks it will not contain a request to expand the U.S. fighting force.
There are no "mysteries" that an honest assessment of the situation cannot uncover.
And to describe the actual continued length of the American occupation of Afghanistan as a "mystery" is completely unacceptable to We the People.
The leadership in the Pentagon and civilian leadership knew several things before going in 8 years ago, as lessons allegedly learned from previous military misadventures:
1. You cannot win what is essentially a ground war from the air.
2. You cannot go in to a region like Afghanistan without a huge commitment of troops to actually occupy the country. The old Soviet Union failed in this with 500,000 pairs of boots on the ground.
3. You cannot set up a corrupt puppet government which appears to support US drone strikes indiscriminately killing civilians without radicalizing those left standing further against that government and the US.
And yet, this is precisely the outcome we have had in Afghanistan. The pipelines to control the oil (and about which we were actually negotiating with the Taliban in August of 2001) still cannot be put in place because of the volatility in the country.
Apparently, the Bush administration thought that a war of occupation would be "cheaper" than what the Taliban was asking for the deal.
Tell that to all the families and friends of people who have died, or been wounded physically and mentally to the point where they will never be able to function again in this conflict.