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As Withdrawal Approaches, Afghanistan Gets Bloody


A senior election official was assassinated in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province on Tuesday, the first killing directly linked to next spring’s critical presidential elections. The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack on their Twitter feed. Then, in nearby Badakhshan province yesterday, Taliban fighters reportedly killed 10 police and kidnapped 16. Both of these attacks occurred in the normally (more) peaceful northern part of the country.

Violence in Afghanistan always seems to be simmering away at a low boil, so casual readers may assume that these stories are merely business as usual. But that appears not to be the case: violence is markedly up. The NY Times reports on the grisly trend:

While hard figures are scarce this year, a number of public comments have suggested a significant increase in casualties on the government side. The Guardian newspaper this month quoted Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the American military commander, as saying that Afghan forces were losing 100 killed a week. “I’m not assuming that those casualties are sustainable,” General Dunford was reported to have said.

If that trend continued, it would represent a substantial increase over last year’s reported 2,970 deaths for Afghan security forces, including both police and soldiers.

On July 22, the interior minister, Gen. Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, addressing Parliament during impeachment proceedings against him, defended himself by saying he had been preoccupied with the rising death toll. “From March 21 up to now, I swear to God, 2,748 police have been martyred,” he said.

Leaving Afghanistan in decent shape was never going to be an easy thing to achieve. General Dunford, cited above, estimated that allied forces would have to provide at least five more years of support before the Afghan security forces could stand on their own two feet. There’s just no appetite for that level of sustained engagement in any of the allied capitals.

But by setting a hard date for American disengagement, President Obama clearly communicated to the Taliban exactly when applying pressure to the existing government would have the greatest impact. That time appears to be at hand, so look for much, much more of this kind of thing in the coming weeks and months as the Taliban do their worst to maximize their advantage.

 [Photo courtesy Getty Images.]

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  • USNK2

    Recommended reading for any ViaMeadia intern posting anything about the Taliban, Afghanistan, or Pakistan:
    1) Olaf Caroe’s 1957 anthropological history, “The Pathans”, which is the best source on the various Pashtun tribes.
    2) William Dalrymple, “Return of a King”, a new history of the First Anglo-Afghan War 1838-1842.
    3) re-read Caroe’s 1957 “The Pathans”
    Then, whoever writes these posts might just figure out that most of the Afghan Taliban are Ghilzai Pashtuns, and most of Pakistan’s Taliban are Mehsud Pashtuns indigenous to Waziristan.
    The Ghilzais are formidable, the largest Pashtun tribe, and the core source of armies for whoever is the ‘King’. Mullah Omar is a Ghilzai.

    Actually, I wish every ‘reporter’ would take the time to identify the tribal affiliation of whatever ‘Taliban’ they are reporting on. Taliban in Kunduz might just be foreign fighters from Chechnya or Uzbekistan, NOT native Pashtuns. Taliban in Herat might also be foreign fighters.
    As for General Dunford’s estimate of “…five more years of support before the Afghan security forces could stand on their own two feet.”???
    The Afghan National Army needs air support, especially for medi-vac, which they are not getting now, which means a battlefield wound can be fatal.
    The British learned the hard way to “Pay the Pashtuns”.
    Americans do not bother to learn from history.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Worst. President. Ever.

    • bpuharic

      No. Dead. Troops. In. Wars. He. Started

      • lukelea

        Anyway I can get in touch with bpuharic? luke dot lea at gmail

      • Tom

        As Eduard Deladier’s supporters could have said…

  • bpuharic

    WRM forgets one thing: This war was fought for us, NOT for the Afghanis. Islam is incapable of reform, democracy or creating an environment for human rights. Most religions, including Christianity, have the same flaw. We, however, discovered the 1st amendment.

    We set a bar so we would get OUT. I realize the rights love wars that go on for decades, killing young people and chewing up trillions in unfunded debt while starving the US poor, but some of us have a different vision for America

    • USNK2

      Mr. Mead did NOT write this post. An intern capable of learning new information wrote this.
      Your ignorance wins no arguments.
      Perhaps you are capable of watching a film? 2008, “Charlie Wilson’s War”.
      True story of how America created the Taliban to fight the Russians in Afganistan.
      And then America walked away.
      I assume bpuharic is not able to read a real book, but Steve Coll’s “Ghost Wars” is the best single source for understanding what is now a 34 year war.
      Obama finally read “Ghost Wars” after his election in 2008, even though the paperback edition of Coll’s Pulitzer Prize winning History was out in 2005.

      • bpuharic

        Blah blah. Weeping over the lost potential for decades of war.

        Yeah I saw that movie…very good. And yes we walked away. But you STILL haven’t said how many trillions we’re supposed to spend. Bush spent 7 years there before Obama took office.

        And what did he accomplish? Nothing. In 7 years, nothing. Yet the right says we should stay and fight.

        Why? What’s to be gained? How many bodies and how many trillions will it take to convince you you’re a failure?

        • Jack Klompus

          Like most of what you squawk your juvenile tripe about, you know nothing about what’s going on in Afghanistan, and you once again reveal that you’re nothing more than a steaming pile of stupid and an utter pointless bore.

          • bpuharic

            Colin Powell admitted his UN presentation was a mistake. And that was the most coherent argument any conservative has made in years on any position held by conservatives.

            You guys think an insult is an argument. I suggest you keep it up. You’ve lost 2 presidential elections in the midst of the worst depression in 80 years. You lost the popular House vote and lost Senate seats when you were supposed to pick them up

            And part of it is you can’t BELIEVE people don’t follow Rush (PBUH)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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