British newspapers don't think much of our chances to "win" in Afghanistan. The leftist journals such as The Independent posit that, thanks to six years of neglect, the Afghan campaign is probably already lost.
You might expect sterner stuff from a right-of-centre paper like The Telegraph, Conrad Black's old broadsheet. Well it might not be as fatalistic as The Independent but today it published an article on, "Two reasons for the Taliban to take heart" namely our inability to force Musharraf to move effectively against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan and the West's pathetic and corrupt poppy eradication programme in Afghanistan:
"The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence has been heavily involved in Afghanistan since the 1980s, when it trained tens of thousands of mujahideen to fight the Soviet occupation. The army has made it clear that it no longer wants to undertake large-scale offensive operations in the tribal agencies, thus the reliance on deals with local leaders. And, despite his strongman image, General Musharraf lacks the authority to override his defence establishment and seal the border.
"Mr Cheney and Mrs Beckett are no more likely to change this situation than the many Western politicians who have preceded them to Islamabad with the same intent. That means that American, British, Canadian and Dutch forces in the south and east will continue to face an enemy with a bolt-hole across the border. An insurgency with that luxury is very hard to defeat.
"The Taliban will also take heart from the corruption which is undermining the poppy eradication campaign in Helmand. The original intention was to cover 22,000 hectares in a province which accounts for about 40 per cent of national production. That has now been revised downward to 7,000 hectares, amid evidence that, through bribery and intimidation, the rich and powerful are avoiding destruction of their crops. There could be no more effective recruiting advertisement for the Taliban, who will argue that nothing better can be expected from a corrupt Western-backed government."
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