What’s Undermining the War in Afghanistan?

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One of the reasons the offensive was delayed was so that relationships with the tribes could be cemented, as this was key to success in Iraq. This effort has been stymied by the fact that some Pashtun tribes have family ties to Taliban militants and warlords often fight with each other. Jason Meszaros, the author of Interrogation of Morals, served in Afghanistan as an Army intelligence officer and says it will be difficult to win the tribes over.

“The Sunni tribes that turned against Al Qaeda were fighting for representation in the new Iraqi government. The Pashtun tribes that encompass the Taliban want to control the entire country of Afghanistan, establish their own government and run it as an Islamic theocracy,” he told FrontPage.

There has been some success in allying with Pashtun tribes despite these obstacles. The Shinwari tribe of 400,000 pledged to send at least one male per family to join the police or army. Polls indicate there is a longing to support the U.S. against the Taliban if given the opportunity.

A poll from January found that 68 percent of Afghans support the military presence, 61 percent support the sending of additional U.S. troops, and 51 percent have a favorable view of the U.S. The Taliban fares much worse, with 69 percent of Afghans viewing them as their greatest threat and 90 percent favoring the Karzai government over them, despite the election irregularities and corruption. It is worth noting that the Afghan attitude towards the U.S. became more positive after the surge was announced.

Meszaros agrees that the U.S. has the advantage in public opinion.

“According to Human Rights Watch over 400,000 civilians died during the Taliban regime. Contrast that to the 16,000 civilian deaths (again Human Rights Watch numbers) during the almost 10 year American campaign and the majority of Afghanis would rather have the Americans in charge. Even though a fair amount of the civilian deaths under American control were caused by Taliban attacks (IED’s, etc),” he said.

The fourth major problem facing General Petraeus is foreign support for the Taliban and other militants. Members of the Taliban admit that they are becoming more reliant upon Iranian support, which includes harbor, arms and training. Support from the Pakistani government is significantly higher than often assumed. Up to seven of the 15 members of the Shura council in Pakistan are agents of the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI.

A report by the London School of Economics concludes that this support is not the work of rogue elements, but is the “official ISI policy.” It alleges that President Zardari and other senior officials have visited Taliban leaders that have been imprisoned and have told them that their detainment is temporary and is being done just to alleviate U.S. pressure.  Afghan intelligence has also found that over $1 billion worth of Saudi money has entered their country over the past four years via Waziristan. The hawala networks continue to allow for the flow of foreign currency into Afghanistan that can fund militants and criminal activity.

The three obstacles of declining public support, foreign support for Islamic extremists, and the conditions causing the delay of the Kandahar offensive are exasperated by the fourth obstacle, the July 2011 deadline. When that time comes, President Obama must decide whether to begin a major withdrawal, push back the timeline, or take a middle course by withdrawing a small amount of soldiers that won’t significantly alter the battlefield. The fate of Afghanistan will be decided by President Obama’s political backbone as it will be by General Petraeus’ military effort.

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  • Gunner57

    I find it appalling that there are still those who consider themslves to be conservative that continue supporting a war that seeks to install a Sharia government that will be our eternal enemy with American blood and treasure.

    Its 9 years after 9/11 and they are still clueless on the commands of Muhammad and his wicked ideology.

  • jim

    What's undermining the war in Afghanistan? The same thing that's undermining the war in Iraq, in Sudan, in Kenya, in Pakistan, in Saudi Arabia, in Russia, in the USA, etc.

    Oh, but we're not at war in all those places, you say? Oh yes we are, but the enemy isn't ID'd. Obama and the MSM refuse to ID the enemy.

    The enemy is called many things, from radical jihadists, to fringe Islamists, etc, etc. But the bottom line, the ultimate enemy, is an ideology, and it is embodied in the Koran. It's why Muslims wage war.

    As long as the Koran contains language endorsing the murder of infidels, there will be war. Only when the Koran is changed, and those who do not follow the new version are immediately condemned and severely punished by fellow Muslims, will Muslims cease to engage in war.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonPappas JasonPappas

    The article is disappointing. How about the absurd “rules of engagement?”

    Is the goal of our fighting to keep the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan? Is this border going to be more secure than the US-Mexico border?

    If the Taliban is a proxy for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, why are we supporting those nations instead of fighting them? Why are we funding the enemy?

    If Pakistan is harboring terrorists, do we now accept this? What happened to the Bush doctrine? Why not make Pakistan responsible for its people and suffer the consequences?

    If this is a civil war within Islam, why are we taking any sides?

    Why not kill our enemy & their families and come home? Why not establish a policy that it doesn’t pay to attack America?

    Except for minor details, what’s the difference between Bush and Obama?

  • Andres de Alamaya

    All efforts in places like Afghanistan and Iraq seem hopeless and a waste of lives, time and money.

    As long as we put up with aid to our enemies by the Saudis and Iranians, we'll have trouble in the world. It would be so simple to tell them, "When you help our enemies you declare war on us and we will bomb you" – and then we follow up with bombing raids.

    More than efforts on the other side of the world, we need to concentrate on the Trojan Horses in America and stamp them out. Block any further immigration by Muslims, come down hard on Mullahs who preach hatred in their mosques, and forbid the building of a mosque on Ground Zero. If this one goes through then the people must rise against the various levels of government that have allowed it. If it is built, it will be blown up by militia forces from six other states.

  • Jim C.

    I understand how, say, Pakistan's instability relates to our national security.

    Afghanistan is a sideshow symptom of Pakistan's instability, but I have no idea what Afghanistan at this point has to do with our national security, and I suspect, neither does Mr. Mauro, or Congress, or Mr. Obama. So I guess it is enough to merely use the words, "national security." It is enough to mention "success," Mr. Obama's preferred term. It is enough to allow an editor to insipidly place the word "victory" in the title's tagline, harming innocent brain cells everywhere.

    Afghanistan is nothing beyond an advanced, extraordinarily expensive game of whack a mole that provides a kind of training for our troops. Pure politics (just like use of the word "victory.")

    Now whether it was President Obama or President McCain, you know we'd be looking for the door before they finished their first term. Is it even worth discussing?

  • Larry C.

    The biggest thing that is harming the WAR in that region is the present day administration is Wacko D.C. The far left kook, and the progressives that have infected "OUR"-(THE PEOPLES)-house, and "OUR" senate. It is high time for it to stop, and it is high time for the progressives to go. That is what is hurting the war effort in that region. Tank you.

  • Jim C.

    We've been there, what, 8 years? "Victory?" What on earth are you talking about?

  • denise

    this is ridiculous they need to get the heck out of afghanistan 8 years later and like thousands of dead nothing really is changed in there this is all about freaking politics and as a american mom with a soldier son enough is enough lets realize that two wrongs dont make a right..