PD Editorial: Time for new approach in Afghanistan

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks to the troops during a visit to Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, her 20-year tenure in Washington drawing to a end, delivered her 444th and final anti-war speech on Wednesday.

"In April 2004," the Petaluma Democrat said, "I started speaking from this spot on the House floor about my strong anti-Iraq war convictions. Eventually, my speeches focused on Afghanistan, where we've now been waging war for more than 11 years — despite more than 2,000 Americans dead and nearly $600 billion wasted — even though we are undermining our own interests and failing to bring security and stability to Afghanistan."

Woolsey's time in Congress will end long before the U.S. mission ends in Afghanistan, but her bleak conclusions about the war are right on target. If you doubt that, consider the Pentagon's latest assessment:

; Just one of the Afghan army's 23 brigades is capable of operating independently.

; Insider attacks by Afghan troops on their coalition partners are up.

; Violence is worse than it was before the troop surge in 2009.

; The Taliban are an "adaptive and determined" foe.

; The central government is still plagued by corruption.

; Pakistan is providing safe havens and other crucial support for the insurgency.

And those are the unclassified conclusions. They come from a semi-annual status report issued Monday by the Defense Department.

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