Well, they are.
NATO's Media Operations Centre issues a "Master Narrative"
"designed to assist all those who play a part in explaining the situation in Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, but especially those who deal with the media."
To wit : "Headline Messages" Oct. 2008
- The Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF are making progress on the ground. The militants¹ do not and cannot hold ground where they are challenged by ANSF and ISAF.
- ¹Opposing Militant Forces is the correct term but is not suitable for use with the media. Depending on the audience and the group being referred to, the phrases militants/insurgents/extremists/Taleban extremists/enemies of Afghanistan may be used.
- The Afghan National Army is a significant success story. It continues to grow in number, competence, and capabilities and is approved to grow to 122,000 by 2012. Today, the majority of operations involving the ANA are Afghan-led.
Lots of talking points on how Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF are NOT THE SAME and the obligatory huzzahs about little girls in school etc. Some of the suggested talking points are puzzling :
- Any talk of stationing or deploying Russian military assets in Afghanistan is out of the question and has never been the subject of any considerations.
while others are just wtf? :
- Polls : Great deal or fair amount of confidence in institutions such as the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police (both more than 80%).
- Poppy-free provinces in 2006: 6, in 2007: 14, planned by the end of 2008: 22 (out of 34).
- More than 4.5 million cell phone subscribers, up from zero in 2001.
Harper appeared to have wandered off the NATO narrative on Friday when he told the WSJ that the Afghan mission is a major NATO test and failure in Afghanistan could have major ramifications for the military alliance. Then, on CNN, taped last Monday :
"We are not going to win this war just by staying," Harper said. "My own judgment is, quite frankly, that we are not going to ever defeat the insurgency."
"If we think that we are going to govern Afghanistan for the Afghans or over the long-term be responsible for day-to-day security in Afghanistan and see that country improve, we are mistaken," he said.
Unless of course the "Master Narrative" can be retooled to guarantee "success" :
The United States must come up with a viable Afghan exit strategy before asking Canada to rethink its plan to pull out of the country in 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a conference last week that while the combat mission will end in 2011, "that does not mean an end to Canada's role in Afghanistan, by any means. We will reconfigure the mission in a way that allows us to contribute in other ways," he said.
Success in the country is crucial both for Afghans and for Canada's national security, which Canadians must be reminded of constantly, MacKay added.
The issue for Canadians is not "whether we stay or whether we go."
"The issue that Canadians ask is are we being successful," Harper said.
The "Master Narrative" on Afghanistan. Some assembly required.