The Guardian has come out to declare the war in Afghanistan a truly lost cause.
...Counterinsurgency theorists imagine the role of the military mission as creating a "space" to be filled by the nascent institutions of the Afghan state – its army, police and judiciary. But here too, amid preparations for elections this week, there is scant evidence of theory translating into practice on the ground. The Afghan police are still reluctant to go into the Helmand villages that US and UK troops have cleared. And against whom is this "clearing" being defined? After eight years we still have no clear idea who the enemy are, or how to distinguish them from the local population.
Much will be made this week of the numbers who participate in the presidential election, an act that will spell defiance of the Taliban. This will be nowhere truer than in Kandahar, the country's second largest city, from where Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, began his march to power. A small Canadian force has prevented 15,000 Taliban from retaking the city, at a cost of 125 soldiers, the highest proportion of casualties of any coalition partner. As the Canadians acknowledge, theirs has been little more than a finger-in-the-dyke operation. The city is being held, not for democracy, but for Hamid Karzai's powerful half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, who has been accused of handing out government jobs and land to his friends and allies, and of extensive involvement in drug trafficking.
Here lies the central problem. As the casualties mount and domestic patience wears thin, the coalition mission will steadily downgrade its once lofty nation-building objectives. If it remained true to them, tackling corruption among the likes of Ahmed Wali Karzai would remain as integral to the project as keeping the Taliban out. In the end neither of these objectives will be secured, and the Afghanistan that the troops leave behind may not be unlike the one which greeted their arrival. Large parts of the Pashtun south will still be dominated by the forces we are currently fighting.
What The Guardian has announced may be a breakthrough in contemporary journalism but, in reality, they're only reading what has been so plainly written on the wall for the past several years. Maybe they needed a lot more convincing than some others, including this writer, but sometimes it takes a bucketful of empty promises and assurances and outright lies before a newspaper of this stature can throw in the towel.