Afghan Surge Sputters

American presidents from Bush to Obama have an interesting approach to military strategy–they believe in surges that in the long term produce the opposite effect. Recent reports from Afghanistan reveal that areas of the country that once had relatively few Taliban fighters now contain large numbers of militants who supposedly were on the run. Last year the Taliban mainly were supported by Pushtuns, but recent events suggest they have increasing support from other ethnic and tribal groups. The worsening situation comes in the middle of the Obama/Petraeus assurances more US soldiers will produce more peace in Afghanistan. In August, 2009, insurgents carried out 630 attacks, this year the total was 1,353. CARE officials maintain “the humanitarian space is shrinking day by day” as Taliban insurgents kill them off.

Last year, American military leaders identified key areas in Afghanistan which were to be cleared of Taliban forces. A year later, most of the these areas report growth of Taliban militants. In Iraq, the famous “surge” a few years later lowered bombings, but never ended them. A similar result appears to be emerging in Afghanistan.