The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Flashback: Afghanistan “Mission Accomplished”

September 30, 2010

I’ve been teaching Af-Pak in my security class these past few weeks. The war has been going on for so long that many “highlights” now seem like distant history.

For instance, everyone remembers the farce that was George W. Bush’s May 1, 2003, celebration of the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The image of the “Mission Accomplished” banner is engrained in our brains, as is the picture of Bush in flightsuit strutting to deliver his speech.

However, people often forget a speech delivered by Donald Rumsfeld that same day in Kabul:

Rumsfeld said that in regard to Afghanistan, Bush, U.S. Central Command Chief Tommy Franks, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai “have concluded we’re at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities. The bulk of this country today is permissive, it’s secure.”

Rumsfeld said he thought American groops could be home by summer 2004.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.