23 August 2011

Afghanistan war exposing U.S. policy failures

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Insurgent strikes are increasingly occurring in central Afghanistan, partly in response to the counter-terrorist surge engineered by U.S-led forces in the Taliban heartland in the predominately Pashtun south. For almost a year, NATO forces under U.S. command have targeted the leadership of what was the original Afghan Taliban associated with Mullah Omar, the “commander of the faithful,” who was born outside Kandahar city.

Against superior western firepower, many of the insurgents shifted their operations, initially into the northern provinces (e.g. Kunduz, Baghlan, and Badakhshan) and more recently into central ones like Parwan and Wardak, both of which are near the capital, Kabul. That geographic shift paired with serious concerns that the Afghan military is ill-prepared to assume increased security responsibilities prompted a commentary in The Huffington Post today that argued against any political decision, like Pres. Obama’s timeline, that “will force a premature transition or withdrawal.”

Another way to read the same information is that the American-led military after almost a decade has failed to defeat or substantially “degrade” the Taliban. Many Afghans are deeply angered by the high rates of civilian casualties generated by bad intelligence or “night raids” on the homes of suspected insurgents. They distrust the government of Pres. Hamid Karzai, which was installed and is funded by the western alliance. Meanwhile, billions of dollars in international aid, much of it squandered, has failed to improve the lives of average Afghans. That’s a record that screams it is time for the U.S. military to leave.

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