Tag Archives: Taliban

Another Day In Afghanistan, Another Casualty

Eight years ago, Afghanistan was over run by American forces, and the world breathed a sigh of relief that the hated, brutal Taliban had been driven from power. Two days ago, a Taliban leader sought medical assistance at a local facility. Ordinarily, reports of an insurgent in a village would have resulted in bombers being called in to level the village, but US forces are finally learning some lessons on how to fight the Taliban. Villagers were consulted, people evacuated from the area, and the bombing begun.

At least 44 Americans have died in Afghanistan this month as we head for the highest figures of casualties since the war began. Perhaps, new tactics of engaging the population and working closely with people to ensure civilian casualties will be reduced can initiate a new era. Unless the people of Afghanistan identify reasons to fight the Taliban, the cause is hopeless.

1% Solution To War?

President Obama has frequently made reference to the fact that one percent of the 300 million American population are engaged in serving in the armed forces. The burden of defending this nation lies in the 1% solution. On one hand, President Obama and leading Republicans like John McCain insist we need more and more troops in Afghanistan to “win the war” in that country. However, it is clear from those on the scene there is limited interest or concern among leaders of the Afghanistan army to engage in actively military encounters with the Taliban. This suggests there is a half of one percent solution among the Afghan people about the war in their nation.

It is time to select from among two options– institute a draft and create an armed force that can deal with the Taliban both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. Or, we can reach the only logical solution and get the heck out of Afghanistan. This evacuation will compel the Afghan leadership to become serious about fighting the Taliban or accept defeat and retreat into the mountains and assume the role currently played by the Taliban.

Who knows, if the Afghan government exchanged places with the Taliban we might be dealing with Taliban leaders to combat terrorism.

Is The Afghan Govt The Taliban or Vice Versa?

All too often in American history the solution is to send more troops because we Americans invariably believe just a few more troops will solve the situation. Even during the last stages of the Vietnam war, conservatives insisted the problem could be solved with another 500,000 troops. In southern Afghanistan, Taliban forces roam at will and are more apt to be trusted than those in the Afghan government. A large land owner told Americans “the Taliban were not good, but these people now–the government– they are thieves and killers.” A former government official put it this way, “in some areas they are Taliban at night and government officials by day, no one can protect you from the Taliban.”

At this point in time, it is to the advantage of the Taliban to allow the Karzai government to “rule the nation” since they know the result will be chaos, anger, and a desire to ask the Taliban to take over. What exactly does President Obama believe will happen with 30,000 or 70,000 more troops? The Taliban run rural Afghanistan and that is the majority of the country. Perhaps, instead of sending in the troops we might send in people who want to develop Afghanistan’s economy.

Taliban Down-US Down In Pakistan!

During the past year, the Taliban has lost the support of a high percent of the Pakistan population due to their actions in places like the Swat Valley. Pictures and stories about flogging women or killing innocent men as well as the general thug attitudes of enforcing one’s will upon a population has resulted in Pakistanis finally securing an objective understanding of what life under the rule of Talibans would entail. Pew Global Attitudes discovered in its survey that 70% of Pakistanis oppose the militants. In 2008, only 33% of Pakistanis had negative attitudes toward the Taliban. The bad news is that 64% don’t particularly like the United States.

The only bright news in the survey was that about 53% of Pakistanis would like to see an improvement in their relations with the United States. Most probably an economic thrust by the United States would be welcome in Pakistan even more than more military aid.

Build Economic Strength To Halt Taliban

Hundreds of thousands of Pashtuns and other minorities are returning to their homes in the northwest region of Pakistan only to find homes destroyed and their crops in ruin. Although the Pakistan government claims to have driven out the Taliban from the region, Minority Rights Group International says by failing to address economic development it will only result in the Taliban returning to the area. Mark Lattimer notes about Pashtun refugee camps, “the conditions in the camps are miserable. the sanitation is inadequate. There’s inadequate protection from the weather. and what is more, we’re now hearing reports that there are Taliban recruiters who are trying to operate in the camps.”

The Pashtun area has never been the object of massive economic development which allows the Taliban to build on local grievances against all forms of authority in order to gain recruits. Once again, as in Afghanistan, the United States failed to provide the economic means to achieve success and only focused on military operations. Ironically, according to this group, recent polls in Pashtun areas reveal less support for the Taliban than what is believed by Pakistan government sources. The economic war has to become equal in importance to the political and military wars.

One More Time For New Afghan Strategy

The Obama administration is seeking more time from Congress in order to put together a strategy for fighting in Afghanistan. The White House is attempting to figure out how to measure success since the beginning of the recent “surge” in Afghanistan. General Stanley McChrystal is emphasizing building positive relations with local populations, but admits the Taliban is more aggressive than ever. “It’s a very aggressive enemy right now. James Jones, a key Obama advisor on Afghanistan and a former Marine general, argues the new strategy can not be evaluated until time has passed and results are more definite. Most probably, the Obama administration will seek additional troops before the end of the year.

This is the 8th year since American forces have been in Afghanistan. Is there something wrong when military leaders argue there is need for a “new strategy?” What were the strategies the past EIGHT YEARS? What if the new strategy does not work? Does that mean there will still be another “new strategy?” Sorry, but after eight years it is time for military leaders to either get the “right strategy” or admit there is no strategy that will lead to “victory”– whatever that means.

Bailtullah Mehsud-Dead Or Alive?

The reported death of Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has created a controversy as conflicting claims emanate from militant sources. Yesterday, one Taliban leader agreed that Mehsud was dead, but today another claimed the leader was alive and kicking and would soon show his face. Of course in the era of drone strikes in which the name, rank and serial number of the person being killed are known to CIA operatives in Virginia. Reports he is still alive might be merely an attempt to prevent defections from the ranks of the Taliban or it could be the drone missiles hit someone else.

Lou Dobbs is demanding the Obama administration present birth certificates of any Taliban leader killed in battle. After all, if the right wing media believed everything President Obama claimed, how would the American people ever learn the truth? Please Mr. Mehsud if you are dead show a valid copy of your birth certificate in order that we might know if the CIA really killed the right person!

Taliban Code Conduct Dismissed By US

Taliban leaders have issued a new code of conduct entitled: “Taliban 2009 Rules and Regulations Booklet” which supposedly outlines how their soldiers must conduct themselves. It apparently is partly an attempt to emphasize the authority of Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, as the supreme head and the one who makes decisions. The code informs Taliban militants to respect the rules of war, to lessen the use of suicide bombers and to respect civilians and avoid injuring them in the course of battle. The code says “any official, soldier, contractor or worker of the slave government” who is captured “cannot be attacked or harmed.” American military authorities condemned the booklet as mere propaganda.

There is no doubt the code is enemy propaganda, but so what. At least they are publicly stating that prisoners will not be killed. Certainly, we prefer they state it is against their policy to kill prisoners than to boast they will kill them. Heck, why not distribute the booklet all over Afghanistan.

Pakistan Army Continues Attacks In Northwest Area

After years of inactivity and refusal to confront the Taliban, the Pakistan army apparently is engaged in serious efforts to drive out militants who have disrupted life in their nation. Security forces claimed to have killed 56 militants although any casualty figures can never be verified due to refusal to allow journalists into area where there is fighting. The operation is directed at any insurgents who fled fighting in the Swat valley where Pakistan army forces drove the Taliban from an area they had terrorized. Pakistan’s military claims to have killed about 1,700 members of the Taliban since they began operations in the Swat Valley.

The success of failure of the Pakistan operation will not be known for months or even years. Will the army be able to restore a secular government in the Swat valley? Will it ensure inhabitants of the region they will be protected from Taliban revenge? Will the two million refugees be able to restart their lives in safety? It is the answer to these questions which determine the success of failure of current anti-Taliban operations.

Waiting For Godot In Afghanistan

President Barack Obama told the media he expected greater success on the part of Afghan forces once presidential elections were completed in the country. He expects that once Afghanistan has an effective army it will be possible for the United States and other western nations to depart from the country. If that truly is the assumption of the president, we can expect he will be stuck by the side of a road for the next decade waiting for Godot to make his appearance. Actually, Obama has greater odds that Godot will appear before the Afghan army takes to the field and defeats anyone or any group. The president’s remarks came as American troops were in the second week of a ground offense in Helmand province. Of course, the problem is the Taliban have headed elsewhere as the Americans entered the province.

It would be nice if the Taliban were on the road side waiting for the appearance of Godot, but they are too smart for that. Obama has been suckered into believing the solution lies with the current Afghan government to create an armed force that will fight. Frankly, we would be more impressed if Karzai could create an armed force that does not steal or oppress the people of Afghanistan.