Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stabbed In the Back!

Newsweek takes a look at Afghanistan, and asks "Is Victory Turning to Defeat?"

You're probably wondering which victory they're referring to. But let's pretend for a moment that setting up an unstable, Taliban-appeasing client regime in Kabul actually did constitute a victory, however modest. Now, read this:

Ridge by ridge and valley by valley, the religious zealots who harbored Osama bin Laden before 9/11—and who suffered devastating losses in the U.S. invasion that began five years ago next week—are surging back into the country's center. In the countryside over the past year Taliban guerrillas have filled a power vacuum that had been created by the relatively light NATO and U.S. military footprint of some 40,000 soldiers, and by the weakness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration....

It's a bad sign, too, that a shortage of local police has led Karzai to approve a plan allowing local warlords—often [opium] traffickers themselves—to rebuild their private armies....
There are three more pages to this story, if you can bear it.

If you can't, you'll definitely want to steer clear of Echidne's obituary for Safia Ama Jan, who was murdered, presumably by the Taliban, for her efforts to educate women. When the Taliban were in power, Ama Jan ran an underground school out of her home. Once they were "defeated," she opened multiple vocational schools for women. Yesterday, she was gunned down as she left her house, despite wearing a full burqa.

Most readers will remember a time when no matter how bad things got in Iraq, BushCo apologists would ask us to rejoice over all the new schools that were opening. By that measure, things in Afghanistan are going very badly indeed:
Militants last year burned down or attacked 146 schools, and already this year have attacked 158 schools, said Zuhoor Afghan, the top adviser to Afghanistan's education minister.
All of this might seem to imply a failure on the part of the Bush Administration...unless you understand, as Stanley Kurtz does, that the United States has once again been Stabbed in the Back&trade:
If Afghanistan collapses, it will prove that Europe has entirely lost the will to fight.
Kurtz is being somewhat coy, I think. By the time Karzai is finally airlifted from Kabul, BushCo's list of official scapegoats and backstabbers will be a good deal more inclusive than that.

Meanwhile, in a harrowing new piece in the Belfast Telegraph, a British officer explains what "the will to fight" actually entails:
We are flattening places we have already flattened, but the attacks have kept coming. We have killed them by the dozens, but more keep coming, locally or from across the border....

You also have to think that each time we kill one, how many more enemies we are creating among his brothers and sons.

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