Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Afghanistan, the vultures are circling

Anthony Cordesman has an OpEd in the NYT today, One War We Can Still Win. Said war being our ongoing adventure in Afghanistan. Basically, the article does a review of the current situation, and finishes with a plea for an extra 5.9 billion dollars to stave off disaster and win one of the two wars the US and its allies are currently losing.
Meanwhile, over at the Asia Times their guy in Pakistan, Syed Saleem Shahzad, has managed to visit with the Taliban, and the situation isn't pretty for NATO:
In the plains of southwestern Afghanistan, confident Taliban move around openly with their weaponry, to the frustration of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Afghan National Army (ANA) troops who can see them, but seem helpless in containing them.

Indeed, foreign troops are mostly held hostage in their bases, and their alternatives are stark: conduct aerial bombings in which civilians would surely be heavy casualties, or pull out.

The mood on the ground in Afghanistan is that the latter option will prevail.
Not only do the Taliban move around openly, they have a less than high opinion of their foes:
"It was really fun to fight with the Soviets [in the 1980s], but not so with the Americans. I remember once, three Soviet soldiers were besieged by mujahideen. They were injured and they had the chance to retreat and be airlifted. But they refused and fought till their last. They had a certain level of conviction. The Americans do not have this," Khuda-i-Rahim told Asia Times Online.
.....

"They [Americans] hear the sound of a single bullet fired in the air and they do not dare to go to the place where the bullet was fired. The Russians stayed in Afghanistan for 11 years because of their conviction, but against the determination of the Afghan resistance they finally withdrew. I don't see a chance that once there is a national uprising like the one against the Russians, the Americans will stay for a few months," said Khuda-i-Rahim.
Even if NATO put in the resources that we're squandering in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan would be lost. It's unfortunate that major policy players like Cordesman cannot accept the fact that ideals and slogans are just that, and not the way to determine policy. When our nuclear armed buddies the Pakistanis tell us to accept defeat by the Taliban, maybe they're giving good advice.

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