THE outgoing top US military commander in Afghanistan has described the Taliban as "resurgent" after a week when 890 prisoners — including nearly 400 Taliban fighters — were freed in a jailbreak in Kandahar.
In the worst single attack on coalition forces in Afghanistan this year, four US marines were killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday. A fifth marine was wounded in the attack.
In a sober assessment, General Dan McNeill, who departed on June 3 after 16 months commanding NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, said although record levels of foreign and Afghan troops had constrained repeated Taliban offensives, stabilising Afghanistan would be impossible without a more robust military campaign against insurgent havens in Pakistan.
Of course, this has nothing to do with the commitment and professionalism of our troops. This has everything to do with the leadership from 1600 and the politics of keeping them in power.
Of course, we should never have 'gone in' to Afghanistan to begin with. I wrote this a few months back:
According to the narrative we've heard since 11 September 2001, the nation of Afghanistan harbored Osama bin Laden and facilitated the attacks on the US. Fine. Why did we go in there saying 'we'll take out the Taliban, but we're gonna go over there and win hearts and minds'?
Let me explain something. You don't go to war worrying about winning hearts and minds. You go to war to break the enemy, pound him far enough so he surrenders. War is ugly, dirty, and a last resort but if you're gonna go, you have to go ugly and dirty. Why in Hell do you think they call it 'war'?
We should have blown Afghanistan to shit, period. Fuck the innocents, fuck everything and kill 'em all. Worry about building hearts and minds later. There should have been a horrible price exacted from them for attacking America. Instead, we have the mess we do now. We have guys in Hindu Kush getting killed using the same tactics the Mujaheddin used against the Russians. You don't go in to a war worrying about offending sensibilities. It's war for crying out loud.
As I said then, the Brits and the Russians learned the same lessons we're learning now. No one can occupy Afghanistan and no outsider can expect to operate like the people who were born and raised there. These people have been living this way for thousands of years and there is no way to bend them to our will, regardless of the puppet government we install, regardless of the amount of troops we have stationed there.
They have not paid the price for attacking the U.S. (or the Taliban would not have been able to pull off this jailbreak) and now we're footing the bill, monetarily (in both Afghanistan and Pakistan), in American lives, and in American prestige. In addition to the Iraq mess, we now have another quagmire on our hands. Ineptitude, ignorance, and delusion have been the watchwords of our military policy since 2001 and it will only get worse before 20 Jan 2009. We should have been out of Afghanistan by now and should have never gone into Iraq. I'm certain we will learn many more hard lessons before we wise up and go.
John McCain will continue this fiasco, and the one in Iraq, and America can't afford to pay the price. Afghanistan should be given the commitment it deserves, if we actually do want success there, or we should leave. Iraq was lost before it began. We cannot maintain the status quo and expect the American military, and the American economy, to survive.