Monday, November 26, 2007

Taliban Resurgent

From Reuters:

Resurgent Taliban closing in on Kabul: report

The conflict in Afghanistan has reached "crisis proportions," with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul, a report said on Wednesday.

If NATO, the lead force operating in Afghanistan, is to have any impact against the insurgency, troop numbers will have to be doubled to at least 80,000, the report said.

"The Taliban has shown itself to be a truly resurgent force," the Senlis Council, an independent think-tank with a permanent presence in Afghanistan, wrote in a study entitled "Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the brink."

"Its ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt," it said. "The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centers, and important road arteries."

Senlis said its research had established that the Taliban, driven out of Afghanistan by the U.S. invasion in late 2001, had rebuilt a permanent presence in 54 percent of the country and was finding it easy to recruit new followers.

It was also increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside and suicide bombs, to powerful effect, and had built a stable network of financial support, funding its operations with the proceeds from Afghanistan's booming opium trade.

"It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when," the report said.

This proves the point that my original opposition to the war in Iraq was based. Unlike many I thought it was a bad idea from a purely strategic standpoint. First I'm a big believer that you don't start a new task until you have finished the last one. Secondly given Afghanistan's history winning the country has always been harder than keeping it. As a result of our optional involvement in Iraq we have given the Taliban enough breathing room to regroup. Hence we may be forced to choose which war we want to win. Fortunately for W should it come to that he won't be burdened by that decision. That may very well be the job of the next POTUS. And for that reason alone this election may be the most important one in a generation.