The Real Failure in Afghanistan
By Douglas Farah
It is clear that the counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan (only now seriously beginning as a counterinsurgency effort) is in serious difficulty. As the New York Times reports, there is little actual support from the central government's police or military forces outside of Kabul.
Support for the war is dropping at home and among key allies, particularly Britain. The most optimistic assessment that the commanding general there, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, can come up with is that the situation is serious but salvageable. Hardly the rose colored glasses.
But the underlying problem, as McChrystal and others know, is not the military, but the complete and utter incompetence of the Karzi regime, to which we are so tightly wedded.
The corrosive corruption and unwillingness/inability/blindness of the Karzi is what will be the ultimate demise of that war. A foreign fighting force cannot win unless a host government, viewed as legitimate by its people, is fighting the war as well. That is not the case in Afghanistan.
History should not be forgotten. What propelled the Taliban to power in 1996 was the public disgust with the corruption and state violence of that time. Transportation was impossible because of the multiple road blocks. Constant bribes made it impossible to rebuild the country or attract anything like foreign investment. Warlords fighting over poppy revenues and ethnic interests left the country a wreck.
The Taliban's appeal then, as now, is rooted in the promise of restoring order and eliminating corruption. My full blog is here.