Over the past couple weeks, US officials have clearly moved the goalposts away from a July 2011 “transition point” in Afghanistan and toward a 2014 date which Hamid Karzai claims will give Afghan security forces time to provide for their own security in the country. But even before that has been absorbed, NATO officials are moving the goalposts yet again, pushing 2014 back to 2015 and possibly beyond that.

The military handover from NATO-led forces to Afghans should start in the first half of 2011 but poor security in some areas could see it run past a 2014 target, a NATO official said on Wednesday before an important summit [...]

“We expect that the transition process will start in the first half of 2011,” said Mark Sedwill, the top civilian NATO representative in Afghanistan.

He did not say where the transition would begin but U.S. and NATO leaders have recently sought to play down expectations, saying it would likely start at the district rather than the provincial level.

Sedwill said the transition could run “to 2015 and beyond” in some areas that could still face security problems.

“We expect to have strategic overwatch in large parts of the country by that time (2014),” he told reporters in Kabul, with civil administration to follow the security transition.

Just keep that calendar moving.

The new French Defense Minister was more blunt, with Alain Juppe calling Afghanistan “a trap for all the parties involved.” But Sedwill actually called 2014 “the inflection point,” which is what July 2011 was called – before everyone kicked the ball three years down the road. And the way that Sedwill and others will defend this move to endless war is by warning of “eye-watering violence” if troops leave. This will be used as a prescription to stay forever. Yet violence has increased WITH THE TROOP INCREASES in the country. Violence is in fact at the highest level right now of the entire interminable 9-year campaign.

By 2078 we’re going to hear about “the new inflection point” that will get all the troops out, without question, by 2085. If we live that long…