The Iraqization of Afghanistan
A suicide bomber walked into the Abd al-Rabb Mosque in the southwestern city of Qandahar, Afghanistan, at 9 am Wednesday morning and detonated his payload, killing nearly 20 and wounding dozens. The mosque was holding a commemoration for a slain cleric, killed last week, who opposed the Taliban.
The bombing comes against the backdrop of a Taliban spring offensive. Taliban forces launched three attacks on US troops on Monday and took casualties. On Sunday, they clashed with the Afghanistan government troops. Each side claims to have killed 9 of the other, but independent sources quoted by Reuters support the Taliban claim that 9 government troops died in the encounter.
On Monday, a roadside bomb targetting a Nato convoy in Kabul instead killed 7 Afghans.
The reports out of Afghanistan are extremely worrying. It seems clear that the Taliban have learned from observing events in Iraq, and are developing a similar strategy of targetted bombings to destabilize the country and force US troops out.
In switching his attention from Afghanistan to Iraq so abruptly in November, 2001, Bush opened a second front. Second fronts are always problematic, and sometimes they are fatal.
Stephen Biddle’s essay on the “Grand Strategy” of the Bush Administration is well worth downloading in pdf and reading carefully. Biddle’s language is stately and analysis cogent. But if we wanted to do a blogging-style “shorter Biddle”, it would be: “Bush hasn’t said who the enemy is or how we could get at him without shooting ourselves in the foot big time.”