Sunday, June 18, 2006

Defeat from the jaws

As difficult as Iraq has been, Afghanistan was supposed to be easy. As endless as the cycle of violence in Iraq has been, the victory in Afghanistan was supposed to have been secured four years ago. But as the WaPo reports, this, too has been transformed into complete failure.
As fighting in Afghanistan has intensified over the past three months, the U.S. military has conducted 340 airstrikes there, more than twice the 160 carried out in the much higher-profile war in Iraq, according to data from the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle East.

The airstrikes appear to have increased in recent days as the United States and its allies have launched counteroffensives against the Taliban in the south and southeast, strafing and bombing a stronghold in Uruzgan province and pounding an area near Khost with 500-pound bombs.
"I think the Taliban realize they have a window to act," Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander of the 22,000 U.S. troops in the country, said in a recent interview. "The enemy is working against a window that he knows is closing."
Commanders say the combat is more intense than in the past three springs, both on the ground and from the air. The offensive has coincided with an effort to wipe out opium poppy crops in the south, resulting in an alliance between wealthy drug traders and anti-government Taliban forces. Anti-government fighters are moving in where the government has left a vacuum, especially where there is money to be made from drug trafficking and extortion.
The attacks have been executed by aircraft ranging from large B-52 bombers to small Predator drones, and have employed attacks including 2,000-pound bombs and strafing.

I have made this point many times before: you don't drop 2,000 pound bombs on land that you control. Large-scale aerial bombardment is a far more telling acknowledgement of our failures than the absurdist posturing of Rummy's lieutenants.

The failure in Iraq has been a boon to Bush's oily allies. But I think the loss of Afghanistan is a failure in every sense, the product of malign neglect and callous indifference.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right. All the administration ever really cared about in Afghanistan was quickly declaring victory and moving on to the "real war" in Iraq. They really didn't even want to do anything in Afghanistan at all, but the public was demanding that they do in retaliation for 9/11. Since they moved on (without catching bin Laden) all we hear from them is how liberated the women are and how young girls are allowed to go to school now. Maybe in Kabul, anyway.

Did you catch on the Daily Show last week, Ken Mehlman sort of let it slip that Afghanistan was viewed as a "failed state?"

Compare to Iraq, where, even under Saddam, they had security, secular laws and women had the most freedoms of any arab nation.

By the way Mr. Blue Meme, seen this yet?

11:10 AM  

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