Here’s what I think will happen:
As the U.S. presidential election draws closer, attention will shift from Iraq to Afghanistan, and the Obama narrative — “America is fighting the wrong war” — will become the prominent one, while McCain will struggle to have his Iraq-centric “we’re winning” meme heard.
Strangled by staff cuts, the American media will weigh its priorities, and with public interest in Iraq dwindling, news organisations will redeploy to Afghanistan.
With Petraeus now running the show from Tampa, the U.S. and NATO will intensify their information operations, launching a counter-narrative, which will include the “they’re stepping up” theme already tried and tested in Iraq, and will inevitably try to brand all opposition forces “al-Qaeda”.
This will not require much effort, as most journalists relocated from Iraq to Afghanistan will know very little about the country and will gladly consume any nuggets of upbeat information thrown to them by the revitalised OEF and ISAF press centers.
Thus, we will finally have more stories from Afghanistan, but the quality will plummet, just as it has with Iraq. Inevitably, news fatigue will set in, and the war will be forgotten again, only to resurface as a campaign issue around 2012.