170 people were killed in Afghanistan during the past week in political violence, according to an interior ministry spokesman. Radio Azadi reports in Persian that the spokesman said Monday morning that there were 117 terrorist attacks in the country in the past week, quadruple the number in the previous week.
The violence is placing in doubt supposed US achievements on the security front. Pajwhok News Agency reports that, ironically, the residents of Marjah are complaining about poor security in the aftermath of the US move into that area. They say that there is poor security, that civilians are caught in the cross-fire between US/ Afghanistan National Army troops and the Taliban, and that it is dangerous to work their fields (Marjah is a set of agricultural villages and scattered farm houses). They say that the Afghanistan police have not provided even the level of security that the Taliban once had.
Meanwhile, on the geopolitical front, Washington and Kabul are renewing their vows after a domestic tiff. A flurry of statements by high officials of the Obama administration on Sunday sought to walk back the recent tensions between Washington and President Hamid Karzai. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called charges against Karzai that he is using drugs and acting completely erratically “stupid.” The charges, apparently rumored in Kabul for some time, were made public last week by former United Nations deputy special envoy Peter Galbraith. On Fareed Zakaria’s GPS 360, Galbraith on Sunday argued that the major US counterinsurgency push in Afghanistan needed a reliable partner in Kabul, and since there is none, the US strategy should be reformulated as far less ambitious.
Meanwhile, the tensions with Karzai, who reputedly has threatened to join the Taliban and who says he could oppose the planned US invasion of Qandahar, has become a political football in the US. Liz Cheney attacked President Obama for his cold treatment of Karzai, and Sarah Palin piled on with the same criticism. Cheney just recently was lambasting trial lawyers who defended terrorists (as they must do in the US system of justice), but now she’s carrying water for someone who threatened to join the Taliban? This is beyond hypocritical or contradictory, it is Monty Python’s argument clinic. Whatever Obama says, the US right wing just says the opposite. That isn’t an argument, it is just a contradiction. And it produces contortionist political positions.