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Insight into Taliban Strategy

#1
Short but insightful piece suggesting Taliban are willing to trade local defeats (an lives) for time, confident that they can outlast the NATO coalition. This is not a new insurgent strategy and to some extent in inherent in most insurgencies where outside powers have troops engaged.

Mountain Warfare
by James Dunnigan
September 19, 2009

As much as the Taliban like to use roadside bombs and anti-vehicle mines in Afghanistan, they still find themselves fighting foreign troops on foot a lot. That's because, especially in the mountainous areas of eastern and northern Afghanistan, it's difficult to get MRAPs (armored trucks) or armored hummers up into those hills. The MRAPs are particularly difficult to move cross-country, because their V shaped undercarriage design (to deflect blast) gives the vehicles a higher center of gravity, making them more prone to rolling over.

Despite the greater safety of MRAPs, many troops still prefer armored hummers, especially if most of the travel is cross country. This avoids roadside bombs and mines, and gets you there (in most cases) faster than going on foot, and more safely than via MRAP.

American and NATO infantry often have to check out remote villages on foot. Here they are at a disadvantage, because the foreign troops carry three times the weight of gear and weapons than their Taliban opponents. While the foreign troops have lots of air power, all the troops can always depend on getting are UAVs, often the five pound, unarmed, Ravens. If a large group of Taliban are encountered, the enemy can often escape cross country, especially if you cannot call in a manned warplane or helicopter gunship quickly. Worse, the Taliban can take shelter among civilians. The new ROEs (Rules Of Engagement) prevent the use of air power when civilians are about.

While the Taliban eventually lose those battles in the hills (especially if there are warplanes available, and no civilians for the Taliban to use as human shields), they believe that their ultimate weapon is time. The foreigners will get tired of chasing the Afghan gunmen around, and go home.
http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/Mountain-Warfare-9-19-2009.asp
[/quote]
 
#2
A key factor in guerrilla strategy is a drawn-out, protracted conflict, that wears down the will of the opposing counter-insurgent forces. Democracies are especially vulnerable to the factor of time. The counter-insurgent force must allow enough time to get the job done. Impatient demands for victory centered around short-term electoral cycles play into the hands of the guerrillas, though it is equally important to recognize when a cause is lost and the guerrillas have won.

Sir Robert Thompson KBE CMG DSO MC
They know, we know they know, they know we kn.........

..... unfortunately western electorates don't.

B
 
#3
Well, it has been going on now for 8 years, can't really blame the electorate for getting angry about the loss of british soldiers with very little to show for it.

Taliban had a good strategy and have stuck to it. We don't appear to have had one til now. Problem is, we now have the right strategy, but not enough troops to put it into effect. Advantage Taliban. Not all is lost, cos not many Afghans want to see Talibs back in charge, the opportunity for success is there, but will it be grasped?

A question for the politicians to deal with, but as you say, they probably have 2 to 3 years max to show significant progress, otherwise, negotiate from a position of weakness.

I don't think anyone can say we are winning this war.
 
#4
When their grandfathers fought the Soviet Union they never expected to win. But they fought anyway, it being more important to live your life properly and die well than stretch out your days as a vassal of foreigners.

Until we start to get our heads round that attitude we haven't got a clue.
 
#5
One_of_the_strange said:
When their grandfathers fought the Soviet Union they never expected to win. But they fought anyway, it being more important to live your life properly and die well than stretch out your days as a vassal of foreigners.

Until we start to get our heads round that attitude we haven't got a clue.
As I sit here for the third time and having traveled to over 20 provinces...the above comment should be engraved/printed on every document and policy the international comunity produce to remind ourselves why we should not be here.
 
#6
One_of_the_strange said:
When their grandfathers fought the Soviet Union they never expected to win. But they fought anyway, it being more important to live your life properly and die well than stretch out your days as a vassal of foreigners.

Until we start to get our heads round that attitude we haven't got a clue.
There is a very big opportunity to move away from centralized govt, in the aftermath of a fraudulent election. Will the west be tempted to leave their discredited puppet in power, or will they start to put right what was a poorly conceived idea of placing most of the power in Afg in Kabul?

Big test coming up, get it wrong and chances of success in Afg will be appreciably slimmer.
 
#7
nigegilb said:
One_of_the_strange said:
When their grandfathers fought the Soviet Union they never expected to win. But they fought anyway, it being more important to live your life properly and die well than stretch out your days as a vassal of foreigners.

Until we start to get our heads round that attitude we haven't got a clue.
There is a very big opportunity to move away from centralized govt, in the aftermath of a fraudulent election. Will the west be tempted to leave their discredited puppet in power, or will they start to put right what was a poorly conceived idea of placing most of the power in Afg in Kabul?

Big test coming up, get it wrong and chances of success in Afg will be appreciably slimmer.
What serves as UK strategy (the scraps of coherence that can be extrapolated) is the desire to create, maintain and sustain a strong centralised government in Kabul. An authority that, allegedly, will be able to assume responsibility for security and development from the international community some time in the near future.

It's not working. The elections have proven that what does exist has questionnable legitimacy, but nevertheless, the UK has to keep bashing the same path for reasons of credibility.

Kharzai is part of the problem not the solution. And yet the entire international effort is centred around providing him the muscle to stay in power.
 
#8
If we go down the line of shoring up Karzai then I'd go as far as to say, the mission is probably doomed. Certainly if no more troops are forthcoming from the US, the game would appear to be up. Forget military defeat, the reputation of NATO is at stake with the handling of the election result and the way in which it was achieved.

If NATO is eventually defeated, (negotiated settlement allowing Sharia Law), then what you hinted at the other week WC, a need for COIN in the UK, could be a real possibility; some time down the track. Dangerous times, pity we have a generation of self-serving inept MPs to try and see our way through.
 
#9
One_of_the_strange:
When their grandfathers fought the Soviet Union they never expected to win. But they fought anyway, it being more important to live your life properly and die well than stretch out your days as a vassal of foreigners.

Until we start to get our heads round that attitude we haven't got a clue.



What he said. Beating a superpower neighbour in that bloody 'gloves off' conflict must make them believe, if not know, they can win against the limited effort the West is putting in today.

It's a war of attrition and they are winning it now and will go on to win it in the future.

The strategy in Afg makes the US involvement in Vietnam look rather splendid and succesful.

The Western Governments should quit now, and see how long the ANA last.
 
#10
dante242 said:
One_of_the_strange said:
When their grandfathers fought the Soviet Union they never expected to win. But they fought anyway, it being more important to live your life properly and die well than stretch out your days as a vassal of foreigners.

Until we start to get our heads round that attitude we haven't got a clue.
As I sit here for the third time and having traveled to over 20 provinces...the above comment should be engraved/printed on every document and policy the international comunity produce to remind ourselves why we should not be here.
But this has been the Afghan mantra since he days of Alexander,they have lost many battles but never a war
 
#11
Would anybody here care to speculate as to what, exactly, would be the effects of a complete NATO/ISAF withdrawal from Afg.? I mean, I hear all these calls for it but no-one seems to think beyond the "Leave them to it and bring our boys home to defend our Borders" schtick. Which I personally find somewhat unrealistic and wholly unconvincing frankly. Do people seriously think it will all just go away and we can blithely carry on as normal? What in effect, would be the real result of the most powerful and sophisticated military and diplomatic alliance on the planet being seen to be defeated and demoralised by a few thousand uneducated peasants with AKs and home-made bombs? And what would happen to Pakistan and it's Nuclear arsenal? Should we care?

Just asking.
 
#12
Jaeger said:
Would anybody here care to speculate as to what, exactly, would be the effects of a complete NATO/ISAF withdrawal from Afg.? I mean, I hear all these calls for it but no-one seems to think beyond the "Leave them to it and bring our boys home to defend our Borders" schtick. Which I personally find somewhat unrealistic and wholly unconvincing frankly. Do people seriously think it will all just go away and we can blithely carry on as normal? What in effect, would be the real result of the most powerful and sophisticated military and diplomatic alliance on the planet being seen to be defeated and demoralised by a few thousand uneducated peasants with AKs and home-made bombs? And what would happen to Pakistan and it's Nuclear arsenal? Should we care?

Just asking.
Read the history, we seem to have done it a few times before
 
#13
nigegilb said:
Forget military defeat, the reputation of NATO is at stake with the handling of the election result and the way in which it was achieved.

If NATO is eventually defeated, (negotiated settlement allowing Sharia Law), then what you hinted at the other week WC, a need for COIN in the UK, could be a real possibility; some time down the track. Dangerous times, pity we have a generation of self-serving inept MPs to try and see our way through.
Also if we go back to first principles (something the political leaders of our 2 countries seem averse to do) and consider NATO's raison d'etre, what must Russia (and others on the world stage beyond Europe) be considering in view of our repeated shows (from their usual realpolitik view) of ineptness/weakness in recent years.

Regardless of our own rationalizations as to why we act or fail to act, the message taken by the Russians (and others with similar world views) is lack of a coherent world view and attendant military/economic strategy and if nothing else, resolve in the face of adversity and threats (even if not very credible).

Examples are regrettably easy to find: Spanish withdrawal from Iraq, Georgia/Ossetia, Polish/Czech missile program, Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Pakistan etc.
 
#14
tropper66 said:
Jaeger said:
Would anybody here care to speculate as to what, exactly, would be the effects of a complete NATO/ISAF withdrawal from Afg.? I mean, I hear all these calls for it but no-one seems to think beyond the "Leave them to it and bring our boys home to defend our Borders" schtick. Which I personally find somewhat unrealistic and wholly unconvincing frankly. Do people seriously think it will all just go away and we can blithely carry on as normal? What in effect, would be the real result of the most powerful and sophisticated military and diplomatic alliance on the planet being seen to be defeated and demoralised by a few thousand uneducated peasants with AKs and home-made bombs? And what would happen to Pakistan and it's Nuclear arsenal? Should we care?

Just asking.
Read the history, we seem to have done it a few times before
Well, briefly,my reading of the history is that on the first two occasions having in due course defeated the Afghan armies, and after the constitutional requirement of a military disaster of course, we pulled out and things pretty well stayed quiet there for the next 40 years or so. On the final occasion it was Afghanistan who invaded us, or at least our territory, and after a third rather messy defeat, a final treaty was signed to Afghan advantage in fact. On none of these occasions were nuclear weapons a factor as I recall?
 
#15
When I ask educated Afghans what was the "best of times" they all talk of Russia and the occupation....the reason is that they built schools , housing, hospitals and a like...plus 5000 students were educated free in the soviet bloc per year, when I ask poor farmers what was the "best of times" they say the Taliban as there was no corruption, bandits or crime..........however they all agree the very best of times is when they can manage themselves without outside influence..........What would happen if NATO left... some blood letting and scores settled but in the main nothing....no more than we have now!
 
#16
Jaeger said:
On none of these occasions were nuclear weapons a factor as I recall?
Nor was the idea that the place would once more become the haven for international terrorism, its planners & spiritual leaders.

Walking away would inevitably lead to far more death & destruction elsewhere.
 
#17
jumpinjarhead said:
Short but insightful piece suggesting Taliban are willing to trade local defeats (an lives) for time, confident that they can outlast the NATO coalition. This is not a new insurgent strategy and to some extent in inherent in most insurgencies where outside powers have troops engaged.

Mountain Warfare
...
While the Taliban eventually lose those battles in the hills (especially if there are warplanes available, and no civilians for the Taliban to use as human shields), they believe that their ultimate weapon is time. The foreigners will get tired of chasing the Afghan gunmen around, and go home.
http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/Mountain-Warfare-9-19-2009.asp
Well it worked with the Red Army who were rather more numerous and notably less careless about collateral damage to "human shields".

Same problem as we've got. While large factions of "The Taliban" retain rear basing secure in Pakistan and the Deobandi madrassas churn out highly motivated cannon fodder this one will run and run.

Some chaps in Pakistan see this rather differently. From US dangerous designs against Pakistan by Asif Haroon Raja:
After 9/11, stated US objectives were to eliminate Taliban militia, capture Osama dead or alive, destroy Al-Qaeda network and affect a regime change of its choice. Bush and others roared belligerently that ‘we will smoke them out and push them into Stone Age’. Behind the rhetoric the actual objective was to gain control over energy resources of Central Asia. Pakistan fitted into its calculus because it provided shortest route to ship oil and gas through Balochistan.

More so, without its intimate cooperation, Afghan venture would have become onerous and expensive in terms of human losses. In context with Pakistan, US in alignment with India, Britain and Israel aimed at breaking the nexus between Pakistan and Taliban led Afghanistan and subsequently denuclearising and balkanising Pakistan so that it could be converted into a vassal state of India.
...
But for firm stand taken by Army chief about placement of ISI under Ministry of Interior, and successful operation in Malakand Division, our detractors would have succeeded in weakening these two vital institutions that not only guard the frontiers but also our nuclear assets and disrupt conspiracies.

The Army has gained admiration and respect of the entire nation and is today standing tall and confident. Even skeptical and critical US officials had to reluctantly reverse their negative perceptions and are now praising it lavishly much to the chagrin of India and Israel. None in Pakistan is prepared to compromise on nuclear assets. Balochistan package aimed at removing sense of deprivation of Balochistan will soon be announced which would hopefully defuse low level insurgency. Thanks to lawyers movement and firm stand taken by judges of integrity, judiciary has survived and is a huge check on morally bankrupt elite which doesn’t believe in rule of law.

Success in Swat should not make us complacent since militants in Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand, Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber Agencies, Kohat Frontier Region, DIK and Peshawar are still indulging in random acts of militancy. They must be kept on the run and process of rehabilitation of affected people speeded up. Waziristan is yet to be neutralized. We must remain wary of US dangerous designs. As long as foreign troops remain in Afghanistan and RAW-CIA-Mossad continue exporting terrorism and propaganda themes to destabilise Pakistan, insurgency will keep seething and security situation will remain in turmoil no matter what protective measures we may adopt.
That's Brig Asif Haroon Raja (Retd) I believe.

Yes "random acts of militancy" are definitely a problem for the Pak military. So much better to get the beards all in orderly lines and pointed towards Kabul and Kashmir once more.

I've been reading around. The Brig (Retd) is an interesting chap of strong views, given to pathologically listing his demands. The so-called Swat Taliban is apparently a creature of the CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW, such a relief, I'd been worried it was an ISI op gone off reservation. I do find it reassuring that he recommends the Pak nuclear arsenal be put on a first strike ready hair trigger rather than spread about in pieces to appease DC.

He's none too pleased with Barry, going so far as to equate him with Mr 10%. He makes this clear in A Comparative study of Barack Hussein Obama and Asif Ali Zardari
...
Security of Israel and procurement of oil will continue to remain chief concerns of the current US leadership. Obama Administration has provided no relief to the oppressed Muslims. War on terror continues to be regarded a high priority subject despite open reservations expressed by Nato countries. They do not mind having spent a colossal amount on this futile US war, which has now been converted into Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars. Their thirst for blood of Muslims has not quenched and they continue to find new means to suck their blood. Americans have come down from country to groups to non-state actors to fish for all anti-US elements. So intense is their hatred against the Muslims that even global economic meltdown and US economy nose-dive has not bothered them. They have now decided to shift focus of war towards Afghanistan-Pakistan, beef up military strength in that theatre and induct Indian military in Afghanistan and make it a key ally in war on terror. If Obama Administration is sincerely interested in correcting the badly bruised credibility and reputation of USA, it should undertake following measures:

One. Amicably resolve over 62 years old disputes of Palestine and Kashmir, which have fuelled extremism and galvanized resistance forces within the Muslim world. For all these years USA, western world and the UN have sided with the wrongdoers and ignored the cries of the oppressed; it is time they facilitate these two chronic issues justly.

Two. End illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq where over 1.5 million people have died and let the people elect their representatives in fair and free elections.

Three. Put an end to arms race and free the world of nuclear and chemical weapons.

Four. Rein in CIA, Mossad, MI-6 and RAW from their meddlesome role in Pakistan, Iran and China.

Five. Restore harmony between different faiths and stop witch-hunt against Islam.

Six. Bridle US insatiable greed to steal oil and energy resources of the third world countries.

Seven. Do away with pro-rich and anti-poor capitalism and introduce a system which ensures equity.

Eight. Introduce a just international order to restore credibility of USA.
...

I think Barry should be more worried about disgruntled Pak Army Brig's (Retd) even than Teabaggers. These chaps are rather more serious about watering the tree of liberty with the blood of martyrs and I'm not sensing a great enthusiasm for our efforts at nation building North of the Durand.
 
#18
Also in NYRB The Afghanistan Impasse By Ahmed Rashid
...
In North Waziristan two key Afghan Taliban networks—one led by the Pash- tun warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani, and the other by the Muslim extremist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar—have been on the payroll of Pakistan's ISI since the 1970s and the ISI still allows them to operate freely. Al-Qaeda militants also live in North Waziristan, as do militant groups of Pakistani Punjabis, who launch terrorist attacks in India and Afghanistan.

The key question is whether the Pakistani army and the ISI, which have intermittently supported the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban since 2001, can now make a strategic shift—turning decisively to eliminate not only the Pakistani Taliban but also the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. Until now the Pakistani army has considered the Afghan Taliban a strategic asset in its battle against India and other regional rivals for influence in Afghanistan.

Success in eliminating these terrorist networks is vital for the US and the world—even more so now that the rigged presidential elections in Afghanistan in late August have created a deep political and security crisis for Afghans and Western forces there. Every day the evidence of electoral fraud has mounted, with videos posted on the Internet showing, for example, a local election chief stuffing ballot boxes.

Fighting Over the Spoils in the Tribal Areas

Baitullah Mehsud became Pakistan's most-wanted leader after Taliban forces allied with him took control of the Swat valley in April. They were pushed out of the valley by the army in June after fierce fighting that left 312 soldiers, 2,000 militants, and an unknown number of civilians dead. Mehsud also became a target for CIA-launched drones, after the US decided last year to target Pakistani Taliban leaders along with those from the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Mehsud was close to and trusted by Osama bin Laden; by Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban; and by Jalaluddin Haqqani. He gave them support, troops, and facilities for their various operations. By fighting off the Pakistani army and expanding his power across Pakistan's tribal areas, he gave al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban a hugely expanded sanctuary from which to operate and gather recruits for their war in Afghanistan.

Among Mehsud's innovations were the extremely efficient new systems he set up to train suicide bombers, some as young as eleven, and to produce vast quantities of land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are being used in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also oversaw a criminal network of kidnapping for ransom, which netted him a war chest estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. Seventy prominent Pakistanis have been kidnapped this year throughout Pakistan, with ransoms—as high as one million dollars—handed over in FATA.

With the control of money, men, and territory at stake, there was a fierce struggle among various Pashtun tribal contenders to succeed Mehsud as leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The succession was also heavily influenced by al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. Mullah Omar and Sirajuddin Haqqani sent several delegations to South Waziristan to influence Pakistani Taliban leaders.

Finally on August 26 a new power-sharing agreement was worked out between the two main contenders: Hakimullah Mehsud, twenty-eight, a ruthless Mehsud protégé who took responsibility for a series of suicide bombings in Pakistan earlier this year, became the new chief of the Pakistani Taliban; while his main rival, Waliur Rehman, who had acted as Mehsud's deputy, will head the Taliban in South Waziristan, where most of the fighters are based. Both men promised a new bombing campaign in Pakistan and increased support to the Afghan Taliban. One day later, on August 27, they fulfilled their promise when a suicide bomber at Torkham—a town that straddles a major crossing on the Afghanistan–Pakistan border—attacked a police checkpoint on the road used by NATO convoys to enter Afghanistan, killing twenty-two people. Three days after that, on August 30, a suicide bomber killed fifteen policemen in Swat.

The Reconquest of Swat

Regrouped under its new leadership, the Pakistani Taliban will continue to pose a major threat to the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari and to the country's military leaders, who are the real decision-makers in Pakistan. The army's recent counterinsurgency campaign in the Swat valley was its first success since 2001, allowing the more than two million people who had fled the region to return home. Mingora, the main town in Swat, is once again open for business and the hundreds of schools destroyed by the Taliban have restarted under tents.

However, the Swat campaign has left gnawing doubts. None of the twenty militant commanders operating there has been killed or captured. The local Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah is also at large, although suspected of being badly wounded. Taliban attacks against schools and police stations resumed in late August, proving that many Taliban are still hiding out in the mountains.

Still, the army has clearly adopted a new and much tougher strategy for eliminating the Pakistani Taliban and establishing greater cooperation between the CIA and the ISI in the tribal areas. This progress has been much appreciated by US officials. On a visit to Islamabad in mid-August Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told me that Pakistan's cooperation in fighting the Pakistani Taliban was very welcome, but that the army now has to go into South Waziristan and clear out the militants just as it did in Swat. In the meantime the US military is providing limited fresh equipment and funds to the army for just such an operation.

During August, other Western officials came to Islamabad to deliver the same message. In addition to Holbrooke, they included British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and two senior US commanders, General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, and General Stanley McChrystal, the new head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. They all urged the government and army to use this moment to turn decisively against the terrorist holdouts in the tribal areas and in Waziristan.

However, Pakistan's generals made it abundantly clear that they will not invade South Waziristan for the moment. "It's going to take months" to launch a ground offensive, the senior commander in the area, Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmad, told reporters after meeting with Holbrooke on August 18. General Ahmad said that all the army can do now is choke off supplies to South Waziristan by shutting down the roads, while planes and artillery bombard terrorist hideouts—but from outside South Waziristan.

The army would prefer to wait and see what happens in Waziristan and also in Afghanistan. It is hesitant to move into the tribal areas, where since 2004 it has been defeated by the guerrilla tactics of the Taliban and their advantage in the area's harsh mountainous terrain. Pakistan continues to pursue a policy of containing the Taliban fighters on the Afghan border rather than eliminating them. That clearly will not satisfy Western governments and military leaders since it leaves NATO forces in Afghanistan vulnerable to the inflow of men, supplies, and suicide bombers from the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Senior Pakistani officials say they will only be able to adopt a new strategy against the Taliban when India changes its current policy toward Pakistan and Kashmir. In Swat the army succeeded because it made use of Pakistani troops transferred from the Indian border, where 80 percent of the army is based. The key to launching a Pakistani offensive in the tribal areas is for the Americans to help improve Pakistan's relations with New Delhi, so that the army can move more of its troops to the Afghan border.

India is not helping. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on August 17 that Pakistan-based terrorist groups were plotting more attacks against India. Last November the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) carried out attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. Lashkar is a group that is distinct from the Taliban and has been particularly active against targets in India and Kashmir. Indian officials now say that Hafiz Saeed, the Lashkar leader who lives undisturbed in Lahore, was "the brain" behind the Mumbai attack. They demand that he be put on trial.

Pakistan is refusing to clamp down on Lashkar or put Saeed behind bars. Lashkar is the best disciplined, organized, and loyal of the jihadi groups that the ISI has trained and sponsored since the 1980s, and it has always targeted India rather than the Pakistani army. The army will do everything to preserve Lashkar, as long as it believes there is a threat from India. Similarly, Pakistan's continued support for the Afghan Taliban is based on countering India's influence in Afghanistan and on having an alternative force that Pakistan can count on, in case the Americans leave Afghanistan.

In short, the strategy of the Pakistani military to selectively use Islamic extremists both as a tool in its foreign policy arsenal against India and to gain influence in Afghanistan is not going to change in a hurry. The Obama administration's main strategy for the moment is hand-holding—it wants to keep engaging with the Pakistani leaders to try to get them to change course. At least one senior US official arrives in Islamabad every other week to argue the American case.

The Afghan Elections

Pakistan's safe havens for the Afghan Taliban have been to a large extent responsible for their revival and growing dominance across Afghanistan and for the rising death toll among NATO forces. But the Taliban were not the major cause of the political crisis that enveloped Afghanistan after the August 20 presidential elections.
...
Another complicating issue for Obama has been the troubled US relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who in the spring was convinced that Obama and Holbrooke wanted to replace him and hold the elections under a caretaker president. That was never the case, but Karzai's paranoia, which is fostered by some of his aides and brothers, who drum up astounding conspiracy theories about US or British intentions, got the better of him.

That the elections were subject to extensive rigging by Karzai's supporters was partly the result of his belief that the Americans were backing one of the two strongest opposition figures, either Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, which was again not the case. In fact, with so much now invested in Afghanistan, Obama and Holbrooke had every incentive to ensure that the election results were credible. What is now clear, however, is that the flagrantly dishonest elections have undermined the government and its Western backers, jeopardized future Afghan trust in democracy, and given the Taliban more reason to claim they are winning.
...
In Washington President Obama is under fire from the left of the Democratic Party for becoming another war president and from right-wing Republicans for being overly ambitious in his plans for Afghanistan. Increasingly Americans are getting fed up with a war that has gone on longer than the US involvement in the two world wars combined. For the first time, polling shows that a majority of Americans do not approve of Obama's handling of Afghanistan. Yet if it is to have any chance of success, the Obama plan for Afghanistan needs a serious long-term commitment—at least for the next three years. Democratic politicians are demanding results before next year's congressional elections, which is neither realistic nor possible. Moreover, the Taliban are quite aware of the Democrats' timetable. With Obama's plan the US will be taking Afghanistan seriously for the first time since 2001; if it is to be successful it will need not only time but international and US support—both open to question.
...
Across the region many people fear that the US and NATO may start to pull out of Afghanistan during the next twelve months despite their uncompleted mission. That would almost certainly result in the Taliban walking into Kabul. Al-Qaeda would be in a stronger position to launch global terrorist attacks. The Pakistani Taliban would be able to "liberate" large parts of Pakistan. The Taliban's game plan of waiting out the Americans now looks more plausible than ever.

For all these reasons it is important to recognize that if Western forces are to regain the initiative in Afghanistan, they must deal with the situation in Pakistan, which needs to eliminate sanctuaries of both the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban forces within the country. The Pakistani military will bide its time until the Americans are really desperate, and then the army will demand its price from the US—a price to be measured in financial and military support.
...
That last paragraph is really why we are fecked. The ultimate price is at the very least Kashmir and that is not within our gift. This is a recipe for Pak Military foot dragging as they milk every larger concessions from DC. A pattern of behavior already obvious in Mushies time.

Having lavished military aid on a corrupt officer corps obsessed by the existential Hindu threat we've set up a moral hazard. Even if the Pak Military could be persuaded to sacrifice these strategic assets and let Kabul alone for the time being who would shoot such a golden goose? This practically ensures the survival of AQ and the Afghan Taliban rear bases.

It's not just the Taliban that is waiting us out.
 
#20
Many people who advocate withdrawal seem oblivious to the fact that were NATO to leave, those Afghans who have supported the current Afghan Government and the coalition could expect little mercy from the Taleban. Whether the initial entry into the country was a mistake or not, we have a huge moral responsibility to stay until the ANA can fight it's own battles with a reasonable chance of success. In short - and as hard as it may be to bear - British soldiers die so that villages full of Afghans don't have to. We made ourselves part of the situation when we invaded and for the foreseeable future the only decent course of action is to accept the inevitable outflow of 'blood and treasure' that our presence there will involve.

Not that such moral considerations will make a blind bit of difference to the amoral power-whores who sold the Iraqis (and us) down the river in Basra.
 

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