As Mara said, a lot of people in Afghanistan who help us are now under attack. They know if the enemy returns to the village, they will be slaughtered if they helped the Americans.Oh ... that's right ... here, in a fashion, last DEC.
And I'm not sure that peasants in Afghanistan are as sophisticated as Mara in understanding that when a president announces a deadline to begin a withdrawal it's only a feint to the American left.
They read it as: The Americans start leaving in July of next year — that is just about a year — and if I help the Taliban, they will be here in August of 2011, the Americans are going to start leaving, and I'm going to be beheaded if I help the Americans today.
I think that is one of the reasons why it's harder to get the assistance of the locals. The reason the surge succeeded in Iraq is because we had a president of extreme stubbornness and it was understood in the region he didn't have a timeline and he was going to go with the surge until it succeeded or failed.
And once Iraqis understood that, they started to give us intelligence, which created a virtuous cycle of increasing security, more intelligence, and ultimately success. And that is in jeopardy if you announce a timeline in advance — as we have in Afghanistan.