Friday, September 19, 2008

Afghanistan: Stalemate

News reports since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 often seem to have an upbeat quality where victory is 'just around the corner' as the coalition/NATO win victory after victory. Let me give you a few examples;

Dec 06: British jubilant as Taliban leader in south Afghanistan killed in air strike
May 07: Death of Taliban commander boosts Coalition forces in Afghanistan
Dec 07: Taliban Suffers "Huge Defeat"
Aug 08: Canadian military claims major victory in offensive

Wow! Sounds like they are winning! Then this;

Officials and military commanders in Afghanistan say the Taliban and other insurgent groups are in control of more and more territory and that at best the battle against them has reached stalemate.

So lets get this straight - NATO, the combined forces of the most advanced military forces in the World vs a guerilla army and the best that can be achieved is a stalemate.

Or to put it in numbers;

There are now some 62,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan , including 34,000 U.S. troops, and some 150,000 Afghan security forces. They face an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 insurgents.

212,000 vs 9,000 = stalemate. And the cost of this stalemate? Don't worry, it has onyl cost around $126 Billion. Bargain really.

Oh, and we are also seeing signs that far from stopping terrorism, the Iraq war (the other one) is spreading it;

The use of two vehicle bombs — one to breach the perimeter of a compound, a second to drive inside and explode — is a tactic used by the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. […]

He said a new, less-compromising generation of al-Qaeda leaders emerged, many of them moving into action after escaping from a Yemeni prison that year, he said.[…]

The new leaders have found followers among al-Qaeda fighters returning from Iraq. “The quieter it is in Iraq, the more inflamed it is here,” as Yemeni fighters travel back and forth, said Nabil al-Sofee, a former spokesman for a Yemeni Islamist political party who is now an analyst.

Those who have been following the Iraq debate might remember “flypaper theory,” which was one of the earliest exponents of the “incoherent post hoc justifications for the Iraq war” genre. The idea was that there was some limited number of terrorists in the Middle East, and the presence of an occupying U.S. army would lure them to Iraq, whereupon they could all be conveniently killed, presumably as soon as they stepped off the bus.


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