"The Obama administration's campaign to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan's second-largest city is a go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will succeed.The US media must appear in and out of Washington's policy loop, an impossible task. Having sold the war, it now unravels Obama's plan only to eventually cover for him during the looming December review. The US media is doing its job to keep debate low until then, mixing in truthful accounts as an alibi.
The bet is that the Kandahar operation, backed by thousands of U.S. troops and billions of dollars, will break the mystique and morale of the insurgents, turn the tide of the war and validate the administration's Afghanistan strategy.
There is no Plan B.
The deadline for results is short: Administration officials anticipate that the operation will form the centerpiece of a major strategy assessment due in December and will justify the first withdrawals of U.S. troops from elsewhere in Afghanistan in July 2011. Although operations initiated last winter in southwestern Helmand province will continue, and new troop deployments are scheduled this year for northern and eastern Afghanistan, little else will matter if the news from Kandahar is not good..."
With the international press tearing apart the US operation in Kandahar, it can't be caught leading the Pentagon's cheering as it did in Marjah.
The dynamic between the US government and media, often the same creature and working in tandem, is an endless source of fascination - and annoyance - to us.