Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mission Expired - the Blue Eyed Taliban

Our side had a good run, six years in fact. In a war, six years is a long time. It's enough to even defeat former superpowers like Nazi Germany and Japan. It ought to have been enough to sort out Afghanistan's Taliban. That window of opportunity, however, may have been closing as we hunkered down in our fortified garrisons, ran occasional patrols and even rarer search and destroy missions - the military equivalent of treading water.

A report in today's New York Times tells of a new generation of foreign fighter, some looking more like Vikings than Islamists, coming into Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban:

"Foreign fighters are coming from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chechnya, various Arab countries and perhaps also Turkey and western China, Afghan and American officials say.
'We’ve seen an unprecedented level of reports of foreign-fighter involvement,' said Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, deputy commander for security of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. 'They’ll threaten people if they don’t provide meals and support.'

Seth Jones, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, was less sanguine, however, calling the arrival of more foreigners a dangerous development. The tactics the foreigners have introduced, he said, are increasing Afghan and Western casualty rates.

'They play an incredibly important part in the insurgency,' Mr. Jones said. 'They act as a force multiplier in improving their ability to kill Afghan and NATO forces.'

Western officials said the foreigners are also increasingly financing younger Taliban leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas who have closer ties to Al Qaeda, like Sirajuddin Haqqani and Anwar ul-Haq Mujahed. The influence of older, more traditional Taliban leaders based in Quetta, Pakistan, is diminishing."

The Times report suggests the insurgency is now spreading beyond the country's southern Pashtuns into the Uzbeks and Tajiks. With the addition of foreign fighters the lines of the insurgency are becoming blurred. More problems for NATO, more problems for Canada and yet, again, Canada's modest force deployed in Kandahar will just have to make do with the same small number of troops as we had at the outset.

Next up, Iran. If Bush/Cheney bomb the hell out of Iran, as is widely expected, look for a growing Islamist revolt against Western infidels throughout the region, Afghanistan very much included. Then NATO will be fully enmeshed in the new war, the Global War on Islam. That one should be a real gem.


Anonymous said...

It kind of helps if you have country wide support and allied support, and a real drive to get things done when it comes to "Hitler" style superpower, keep in mind that we were also indescriminate when it came to fighting the Axis forces, If the US wanted they could have bombed the middle east to glass, but showed restraint. Could have all been wrapped up in a month.

The Mound of Sound said...

"Could have bombed the middle east to glass"? What kind of mind thinks like that? Hitler's or Stalin's perhaps? Could have all been wrapped up in a month. Perhaps that part is right but you would be soiling your pants at the result.

burlivespipe said...

but the Taliban is no-way as advanced munitions-wise as the Axis. What they have is a superior knowledge of the terrain and a guerilla-fighting mentality. And many allies against the big Superpower.
And had the US decided to blast Iraq-Afghanistan off the map, you'd be doing the old form of fighting cancer. Nuking both the good and bad genes, leaving nothing behind to build upon. The end result is still death, by the way.
But if Cheney-Bush continue down their road, they are going to create so many more terrorists, people who will come from places they never dreamed about, that the doomsday clock will not need winding.
Scary to think about.

The Mound of Sound said...

No arguing with that logic, Burl. Crossing that nuclear threshhold invites all sorts of consequences in all corners of the world. Yet Bush is intent on developing and fielding a new generation of mini-nukes (as though there is such a thing) for coventional, tactical applications. Madness? Yes but this is an increasingly delusional and irrational regime, a rogue administration that considers itself accountable to no one, particularly not its own people.

Okhropir Rumiani said...

If the number of foreign fighters is increasing we may be optimistic for the long run. Of course if they are replacing shrinking native militants so much the better.

These foreign fighters are more dangerous and sophisticated but they don't share the local sensitivities of the "new" Taliban. They have extremist personalities and arrive with their own agendas. Local Afghans resent them.

Thing may get worse before they get better.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry Okhropir but I can't tell which side you're rooting for. Are you optimstic that the influx of foreign insurgents means a faster end of the Taliban? I hope so.

Okhropir Rumiani said...

Yes, the influx of foreign fighters, if they are replacing native fighters is an indication of the decline of the Taliban.

But they are more dangerous.