Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Afghanistan: What's Gone Wrong?

A better question might be "What's gone right?" at least in light of the "rash" of successful jihadists killing NATO-led allied forces and the civilians who keep trying to find safety behind them. This morning, for instance, 18 Afghans died as a suicide bomber detonated himself at the entrance of the governor's office in southern Afghanistan. The 18 dead included 6 Afghan soldiers and 12 civilians who were said to be making pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Washington Post (and Reuters) report that "U.S. and NATO troops are up against a much more intense insurgency than expected and NATO has called for more troops from member nations." Near Kabul, a bomb placed under a bridge hit a convoy of NATO-led troops, killing one Italian NATO soldier and seriously wounded two of his compatriots. The Taliban also claimed that attack.

The Washington Post article claims that the sister of the Italian killed said the troops should leave Afghanistan. Nearly 140 foreign soldiers have been killed in violence or accidents during operations this year, including at least four Italians. Last week, three suicide bombers killed at least 19 people across Afghanistan on Monday, including four Canadian soldiers in an attack that tested the NATO alliance's claim of success in driving insurgents from this volatile southern region. Canada boasts a significantly large force among the NATO troops.

Just prior to last Monday's bombing, NATO's Supreme Commander, U.S. Gen. James Jones, spoke of the successes of operation Medusa, the campaign NATO is fighting in southern Afghanistan. The Canadians are, to say the least, not impressed with Operation Medusa's success--and not due to losses they've suffered. This is war, there are losses, everyone knows it and reluctantly perhaps, accepts the loss of life as the price of freedom. The negativity, however, is stemming from the lack of followup with the Afghan people. General Jones notes "After all, there have been many wars, conflicts and battles [in Afghanistan] already and what did these villagers ever get out of them that would make their lives better?" The answer, sadly, is not much or nothing. Unless you count a stronger Taliban force as an achievement. I'd rather not.

Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who spoke at the UN on Thursday said, "Success cannot be assured by military means alone. This we all recognize. For success also requires a strong and unwavering civilian contribution — educators, engineers, election advisors, direct and technical aid. The list is lengthy. But the contribution is essential."

But will maintaining NATO troops and sending money solve the problems? Journalist Jefferson Morley takes a serious, in-depth look at the answer, but I warn you, first he rips through the EU and British press, then he stomps on the Canadian press. Seems the only media coverage Mr. Morley approves of is his own. Gee, why does that not surprise me! But at least he's collected a lot of articles in one place, giving the coverage a much-needed voice--even if it's not his own.


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