Afghanistan continues to generate bad news at an alarming rate. Gunmen stormed a UN guest house in Kabul, deploying small arms fire and killing 3 UN staff members along with 4 other persons. A Taliban spokesman said his group was behind the attack and that it was aimed at disrupting the Nov. 7 presidential runoff election. At the same time, a rocket slammed into a five star hotel in Kabul.
Heavy gunfire reverberated through the streets shortly after dawn and a large plume of smoke rose over the city following the attack on the hostel in the Shar-e-Naw district. Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahman said seven people were killed, including some attackers.
The killing of 8 US troops by roadside bombs on Tuesday has brought the number of US troops slain in October in Afghanistan to 55, making this the deadliest month so far in the 8-year US war in that country. The US currently has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, in addition to NATO forces.
Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and a Foreign Service officer in Afghanistan has resigned in protest against the conduct of the US war in Afghanistan, the first such FSO known to have done so. He protests that we are simply propping up a corrupt and feckless urban-based government that is being opposed by a rural religious-nationalist movement, and that we are highly unlikely to succeed in settling this three decades-old conflict. Karen DeYoung of WaPo reports that Hoh believes many Pashtun guerrillas have taken up arms against the US and NATO simply because these foreign troops are in their country, so that we are generating the conflict we say we are ameliorating.
Underlying Hoh’s point about corruption, the NYT reports that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, who has been accused of involvement in the drug trade, has for some years been on the CIA payroll. So it makes you wonder, has the US been winking at Ahmed Wali’s alleged drug running because he is an asset who is doing something for Washington? If so, how far up does this operation extend? Afghanistan looks more like Vietnam every day.
Meanwhile, Washington is abuzz with plans and counter-plans on Afghanistan. They include paying the Taliban not to fight the US, focusing mainly on Pakistan, and withdrawing US troops to the major cities.
The Soviets more or less withdrew to the cities in the mid-1980s, and it didn’t stop them from being forced ultimately to withdraw from the country. And they even had loyal Communist Party cadres and large numbers of urban women on their side. I doubt there is any similar genuine support group for US and NATO presence in the country, though the Tajiks don’t so far seem to mind it the way elements among the Pashtuns do.
What I still don’t hear is what the objective of the war is, and how it will be accomplished in some reasonable time frame. If the objective is that Pashtun tribesmen shouldn’t feud with each other and with their government, and should become secularized, then this really is a 40-year war.
End/ (Not Continued)