Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quagmire Watch

The Taliban are promising that they are going to ratchet up the violence, the bombings, suicide bombing and assassinations in response to the US surge. Do we believe them?
Out-powered in rural areas by military weaponry, fighters there will carry machine guns and attempt to sharpen the results of their ambushes, but they will rely more on land mines and improvised explosive devices, sources say.

Inside the city, insurgents plan to stage more frequent multi-bomber suicide attacks and targeted assassinations. Government officials and civilians who appear to be in favour of the current government regime will be hunted with new intensity.

“If a man or woman is working with the government, or they are supporters of the government or of the foreigners, we want to kill them,” said one Taliban organizer speaking through a Pashto translator. “We want to put the pressure on Kandahar city. And we want to dissolve the government.”


How locals respond to troops remains to be seen. In the city, confidence in both government and coalition forces has waned, and military officials acknowledge research confirms the forces' sunken popularity.

Their approval ratings have not been helped by a spike in large-scale violence over the course of the past month. Militants successfully carried out deadly bombings at the governor's mansion and the provincial council offices. Assassinations have become a daily occurrence, so much so that victims of the gruesome killings only make the news now if they are well-known figures.


Mullah Masood, Maywand's district leader, said allegiances to militants will not change until foreign stakeholders invest properly in Afghanistan.

“My suggestion is for the foreigner to find work for the common people, the people who are poor,” he said. “Find food for the children. Otherwise, this joining of the people with the Taliban will continue.”
This is definitely a 1969 moment. At the time the Vietnam War was looking unwinnable and the public had turned against it. The Johnson administration were crushed and unpopular. The newly elected Nixon could simply wash his hands of the war and withdraw, with popular support, and without the burden that it was his war. Instead Nixon waffled. He pursued the "peace with honor" policy, that they wouldn't just up and leave without concessions from the North Vietnamese. So the war that wasn't winnable dragged on, until 1975 and they had to leave in disgrace with the famous helicopter evacuation from the US Embassy.

Obama is in the same situation right now. It appears that he is choosing to drag it on. It becomes his war now. Not to be too cynical, but it's easy to see that this will not to turn around, and we'll have a nice clean victory. Does anybody really believe it will? It sickens me that we have to watch this unfold because failure can't be admitted. More money and lives will be destroyed over this point of honor.

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