One headline after the other....Afghanistan surfaced this weekend as a major news item. But what does it all mean?
Carlotta Gall, one of the few correspondents who knows Afghanistan well enough to write beyond the official line of U.S. and NATO officials, went to a remote part of Western Afghanistan to cover a significant development in the fight against the Taliban insurgency. The U.S. handed over military security of the less-volatile Western region in early 2005 to NATO forces from Europe – mainly the Italian Army in Herat.
Recently, out special forces have been active in the area – to include calling in air strikes on suspected Taliban positions and raids within villages. The Times quotes villagers who say there were no Taliban – in fact, the villagers themselves claim responsibility for rising up against the Americans after U.S. forces allegedly went through several houses, shot some and arrested others.
So, by going after some bad guys – we created a whole new dynamic, one faced by every occupying force that ever fought in Afghanistan. Afghans are fiercely territorial and will defend themselves against all odds if they feel their lives or homes are in danger. Ask the British, whose might could not prevail over the “dushman,” (enemy) or the Soviets who lost to the rabble of “dukhi.” (ghosts)
Apparently, many civilians were recently killed in bombing raids. Civilian deaths following a March attack on a Marine convoy led to a senior U.S. commander apologizing and paying families. Karzai condemns civilian deaths routinely, and the U.S. State Department allows him to rant publicly to save face an maintain public support – although his tirades fall on deaf ears when it comes to the continuing of combat action that may endanger Afghan civilians.
Also, an Afghan troop shot a U.S. colonel and a U.S. master sergeant last week near Kabul. Now, some in the Afghan government are calling for negotiations with the Taliban.
NY Times Sunday: Losing Civilian Support In Afghanistan
So, our return public relations tactic – publicly display the body of Mullah Dadullah – front page of the New York Times Monday (May 14). Out forces finally caught up with the one-legged jihadist and offered him a one-way ticket to visit Allah. Unfortunately, like when previous enemy commanders are killed, there are plenty of followers to fill his shoes – er, uh…shoe?
NY Times / Mullah Dadullah Dead:
We lost a U.S. soldier coming back from a meeting just across the Pakistan border. No doubt some tribal militia loyal to the insurgency carried out the attack. The tribal region that straddles Afghanistan’s eastern border and the Northwest of Pakistan is clearly the heart of our problem fighting the insurgency – and perhaps the sanctuary for Osama bin Laden and the thriving remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. (Think the border of Cambodia-Vietnam during the late 1960’s). If we had more troops on hand – rather than having them bogged down in Iraq – we could theoretically push into the region. Of course, that would mean jeopardizing our relationship with the Pakistani government. So the politicking along the border will continue – and so will the insurgency.
NY Times / Troops Attacked After Pakistan Meeting