Time is on the Taliban's Side

Time is on the Taliban's Side - Richard Beeston, The Times via The Australian.

War is a dirty word in Afghanistan. Use it before US and British generals and you can expect frowns and headshakes. At times it feels as though spin doctors have infiltrated every coalition base, eliminated the commanders and put on their uniforms.

Instead of "offensives" and "assaults", we have "activities", "ongoing process", or "restoring order". Operations are no longer called "Anaconda" or "Mountain Fury", but "Together" and "Co-operation". Detainees are no longer terrorists, but misguided youths in need of an education and some vocational training.

The man responsible is General Stanley McChrystal, commander of forces in Afghanistan. If his superior, General David Petraeus, rewrote the book on US counter-insurgency warfare for Iraq, then McChrystal has turned it into a dogma, now practised daily by US troops.

The strategy appears sound. Pour more troops into the Taliban strongholds of southern Afghanistan. Deploy them around main population centres, force out militants, and protect civilians while Afghan officials and forces impose authority and deliver services to the population. Wait for the tipping point when life for ordinary Afghans begins to improve, the economy picks up and the people change sides. Open the door to negotiations with the Taliban who are by now prepared for a negotiated rather than a military solution...

More at The Australian.

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"Pour more troops into the Taliban strongholds of southern Afghanistan. Deploy them around main population centres, force out militants, and protect civilians while Afghan officials and forces impose authority and deliver services to the population."

Is this really the task of the foreign military? Nation building is a long bloody process and the West is not prepared to pay a heavy price in blood. Nor are foreign troops in cities pleasant to locals. Cities are places were the Talibans have an advantage they are local and technology is less effective in such surroundings.