William Wood, American Ambassador to Afghanistan offered a review of what happened in that nation over the past year, and from his perspective there was both good and bad news. the number of roadside bombs increased from 1,000 in 2007 to about 2,000 in 2008 while kidnappings went from 150 to 300. He saw progress in curbing the growth of poppy and believes its production declined by about 20%. He admitted the Taliban is moving into many rural areas of the country where the government is unable to establish a presence, and said there would be new programs in 2009 that arm local militia to combat terrorism.
Actually, over a year ago, British authorities in Afghanistan urged arming local villagers, but the American military shot down that idea only to finally come around to supporting such an effort. The Ambassador claims as a positive a decline of poppy production, but there is no mention of how poppy farmers feel about having their fields destroyed. Did such actions make it more or less likely they shifted support to the Taliban? There is no question the Taliban benefits from poppy production because those fields help them get money to purchase weapons. However, over a year ago, the British mentioned purchasing the entire poppy crop in order to maintain good relations with farmers and persuade them to support the Afghanistan government.
Seven years have passed and finally someone in the American government gets the idea there must be a strong armed presence in villages. This simply reflects the retarded ability of Bush officials to figure out how to conduct war against guerrilla forces.