Changing Hands in Afghanistan

Rick Moran is blog editor of The American Thinker, and Chicago editor of PJ Media.His personal blog is Right Wing Nuthouse.


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It has been a landmark week in Afghanistan, as NATO forces will be handing security responsibility for seven relatively peaceful areas over to the government of President Hamid Karzai. The handovers mark the first major step in a process that is expected to be completed by 2014, when the last American combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan.

Turning these areas over to the Afghan government has coincided with the departure of General David Petraeus, who most analysts say did the best that could be expected given the enormous challenges facing the military when he took command last year. He leaves with the country in better shape than when he arrived as far as battling the Taliban insurgency goes, but far from bequeathing a stable security situation to his successor, General John Allen.

As if to highlight the enormous security problems that still face the Afghan army and police during the handover, two mortars were fired near the spot where the transition ceremony in Mehtarlam, the provincial capital of Lagham, was taking place. NATO and Afghanistan officials see Lagham as a litmus test for the Afghan army and police and their capabilities in being able to handle security responsibilities.

Those capabilities are very much in question. Indeed, a shortage of trained personnel and equipment is hampering the development of the police into an effective force for law and order. And corruption in the courts is sapping the confidence of ordinary Afghans in the ability of the government to administer justice.

Perhaps the biggest question mark is the Afghan government itself and the performance of its mercurial president. The shock of losing his half-brother and close adviser, Ahmed Wali Karzai, last week was compounded when another close confidant, Jan Mohammed Khan, was killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul on Monday. Some in Afghanistan are questioning whether Karzai’s government can survive once the handover is complete. One member of parliament told the Guardian newspaper, “These killings show the weakness of failure of Karzai’s politics. The situation is crisis. Karzai has lost control of the country.”

In fact, Karzai is scrambling to fill the void of his half-brother’s death, casting about for someone who can fill the hole in his leadership circle in Kandahar province, the most crucial area of the country. According to the Washington Post, several candidates are being considered, including Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of eastern Nangahar province, who would replace the current governor of Kandahar. But tribal jealousies — Shirzai is of a different tribe than Karzai — might make that choice problematic.

Regardless, the dual blow of losing two of his closest advisers has jolted Karzai’s government and knocked it off-balance at an important juncture. The security handovers in Helmand province (Lashkar Gah), Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan, and Lagham province (Mihtarlam) are being seen as a test case for the government’s ability to keep the peace and build trust with citizens in order to extend the influence of the Karzai administration into the provinces. At the handover ceremony in Mihtarlam, British General James Bucknall, deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said, “There will be plenty of challenges ahead, security and otherwise, as Mihtarlam progresses through transition over the coming months[.]”

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  • Fred Dawes

    Oh God help us all Obama did his thing to us all, its changing hands OK!! back to the Taliban within 2 years and soon you will see the UN Run-a-away like the little monkeys that the UN are.

    can we say that Obama is stalking us all for the great muslim triumph and this victory was not only helped by our boy obama but by Bush and all our bitchs in washington.

    And kids just wait until the jihad comes to you here inside the FORMER USA.

  • Fred Dawes

    THAT WILL NOT WORK

  • tagalog

    The U.S. will leave Afghanistan, then the IEDs will slow or cease altogether. The Afghans will lose any incentive they might once have had to continue the fight against the Taliban, and their activity will slow or cease; also, their police and army will lose whatever alertness and sharpness they were trained into by the foreigners. Then NATO will lose its resolution and leave, and the Taliban -or some other militant fundamentalist group- will take power in Afghanistan. And that will be the end of it in Afghanistan for a while. The U.S. will not be attacked from Afghanistan, and Afghanistan will deteriorate into what it was in the 1990s, a remote land ruled by primitive beasts.

    • Jim_C

      Sounds about right to me.

      I admit I was swayed by the initial visions of the PNAC, thinking we could help effect political change militarily because people there yearn to be free. That was rightly mocked as a pipe dream; that change has to come from within. But the people from PNAC and a few other think tanks were predicting the post-Cold War environment to be one where Islamic terrorism played the bad guy role long even before the first attack on the WTC–for that, they have to get credit.

      While I'd have to agree with John McCain that Rumsfeld was arguably one of the worst wartime defense secretaries in our history, the irony is that he would have been an excellent peacetime Pentagon reformer. His vision of the faster, lighter, highly trained military would have been the perfect fit for a counterterrorism component of DoD. And to the extent that it has been realized, we've gained a lot from it.

    • Rifleman

      "The U.S. will not be attacked from Afghanistan"

      You may be right., but that would only be because they hit us from Somalia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, or one of the other countries hussein is letting the jihadis have.

  • Fred Dawes

    The only thing i want to know how long before the Taliban start to show up here inside the USA?

    • Diann

      I hate to tell you, Fred, but they are already in the US, Canada, and all Western countries. It won't be long before they show themselves. How we respond to the violent attacks of these terrorists will be key to our survival. Do we have the determination to survive and keep our culture, or will we make excuses about the rough childhoods these death squads have had, and coddle them until they have turned our countries into another Afghanistan or any other Islamic Republic? My hope is that we stand up before it is too late.

      • Rifleman

        You beat me to it. I'll add hezz, hamas, islamic jihad, fatah, and around a dozen other jihadi groups most people have never heard of, somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 operatives.

        • ObamaYoMoma

          You beat me to it. I'll add hezz, hamas, islamic jihad, fatah, and around a dozen other jihadi groups most people have never heard of, somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 operatives.

          Actually, because you are confusing terrorism with jihad, you are drastically underestimating the nature of the problem. Terrorism and jihad are actually two entirely different things altogether.

          Terrorism always involves extreme violence only, usually directed against civilian non-combatants for any number of political causes, and is always perpetrated by political extremists. Jihad, in stark contrast to terrorism, can employ both violent and non-violent means, is always directed against unbelievers, either civilian non-combatants or military troops, is always committed in the cause of Allah and only by mainstream orthodox Muslims as opposed to extremists, as is the case with terrorism.

          In fact, the sixth and most important pillar of which Islam stands makes it an obligatory duty in Islam for each and every Muslim to fight jihad in the cause of Allah. It doesn’t make it an obligatory duty only on radicals and it doesn’t make it an obligatory duty only on extremists. Instead, it makes it an obligatory duty in Islam for ALL MUSLIMS to fight jihad in the cause of Allah, no exceptions. Thus, all jihadists, whether of the violent variety or of the non-violent variety, per Islam’s sixth and most important pillar, are mainstream orthodox Muslims as opposed to extremists, as is the case with terrorism.

          Hence, all Muslims are jihadists, whether they are violent jihadists or non-violent jihadists. Indeed, if not for the presence of millions of Muslim stealth and deceptive jihadists already living in America with their thousands of mosques and madrassas on 9/11, the 9/11 jihadist attacks would have been completely impossible.

          In other words, stop confusing the violent varieties of jihad with being terrorism and assuming that they are perpetrated by extremists because again jihad and terrorism are two entirely different things altogether, and this same misunderstanding between jihad and terrorism also leads too people to confuse non-violent jihadists as being peaceful and moderate Muslims, when the reality is they are really non-violent jihadists that in the long run are even more dangerous than the violent jihadists.

          Indeed, a few examples of famous terrorists as opposed to famous jihadists would be the IRA, Ted Kaczynski, and Timothy McVeigh. A few examples of famous jihadists as opposed to terrorists would be Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Notice how the famous terrorists all perpetrated terrorism for different and varied political causes, while the famous jihadists, on the other hand, not only were all Muslims but also all fighting in the cause of Allah. See the difference?

          A few examples of violent jihad attacks as opposed to violent terrorist attacks would be the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2004 Madrid Train Bombings, the London 7/7 Bombings, and the 2008 Mumbai attacks. A few examples of violent terrorist attacks as opposed to violent jihadist attacks, would be the hundreds of terrorist attacks perpetrated by the IRA in the UK, the bombings perpetrated by Ted Kaczynski – the Unabomber, and the Oklahoma City Bombing perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh. Again, Muslims perpetrated the jihad attacks and all were perpetrated in the cause of Allah, while the terrorist attacks were perpetrated by extremists and for different and varied political causes. Starting to see a pattern?

          A few examples of non-violent jihad as opposed to terrorism would be mass Muslim immigration to the West for the purpose of demographic conquest, the bribing of thousands of college and university Middle East Studies Departments throughout Europe and the USA via large financial donations in order to whitewash Islam and to keep the truth hidden, the invention of Islamophobia as a new kind of political correctness to silence and marginalize anyone and everyone trying to expose the truth about Islam, raising millions of dollars in the West via Islamic charities under false pretenses for the purpose of financing violent jihad, and fomenting hatred and violence via lies, libels, and innuendos against Israel, America, and other unbelievers. A few examples of non-violent terrorism as opposed to non-violent jihad, there is no examples of non-violent terrorism as opposed to non-violent jihad because once again terrorism and jihad are entirely two different things. See the difference now?

          • Rifleman

            Thanks for the time and though, OYM, but I'm not confusing the two. Every terrorist group I named or alluded to is composed of jihadis, so it’s accurate. I used that term because it excludes other kinds of terrorists and includes the infiltration and influence tactics those muslim terrorist groups are employing here at the moment. I think we’re just pronouncing the “a” in tomato different.

            A terrorist attack doesn’t have to use violence, btw, they can and do also use the threat of violence, like calling in bomb threats, to cause panic and disruption, and get their group on the news.

          • ObamaYoMoma

            I think we’re just pronouncing the “a” in tomato different.

            No…you still don’t get it at all. You have a long way to go to understanding the full nature of the threat we all face. However, a little bit is better than nothing.

      • Fred Dawes

        sad to say you are right.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    I know a lot of establishment Republicans that are neo-cons and RINOs think the world of General Petraeus, but I’m not one of them. Of course, I’m also not a neo-con or a RINO either.

    In any event, our entire military establishment is broken and it’s because it has been hijacked and co-opted by the Left. Hence, today we don’t fight wars anymore to defeat our enemies and to create deterrence. Instead, we pursue endless fantasy based nation-building missions based on political correct myths, as our military establishment has been transformed from an institution that was formerly merit based to an institution that is now diversity based. Thus, our military establishment is little more than a pathetic and incompetent joke. It’s broken.

    Furthermore, both fantasy based nation-building missions in Afghanistan and Iraq from the word go were the two biggest strategic blunders ever in American history.

    • mlcblog

      I think Petraeus' talent is in the huge amount of diplomacy it took for him to negotiate the warring factions within our own govt.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        Actually Petraeus and the warring factions within our government are all completely incompetent. Indeed, it’s the blind leading the blind. They are all absolutely hopeless!

        • mlcblog

          …and you are entitled to your low opinion.

  • PAthena

    The practice of announcing when U.S. (or allied) troops will leave a theater of war is crazy. War is not a game which can be timed like basketball or football. Announcing that the troops are going to be withdrawn is just announcing defeat. Imagine if the U.S, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union had announced during World War II that their troops would be withdrawn in 1944!

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Actually, that is not the problem. The problem is what the hell are we even doing over there in the first place? Why are we trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslims? That’s impossible! Why are we trying to lift Muslims up, as poverty, despair, and hopelessness have nothing whatsoever to do with the reasons why Muslim fight jihad against unbelievers in the cause of Allah per the sixth and most important pillar of Islam.

      The truth is it doesn’t matter when we leave, the missions will inevitably fail no matter what we do because the missions are based on fantasy based political correct myths. Indeed, if you believe that Sharia states, which is what the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq are, will somehow become loyal friends and allies of the USA and NATO; then I have a bridge I need to sell you.

  • BS77

    Honor the nearly 2000 US troops who will NOT be returning to their families and homes….who were killed in Afghanistan…..Tthe US is pulling out, leaving that poor nation to be re infested by the barbaric Taliban….>This is a dismal and tragic tale.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Yeah, most of those troops died since the surge began because of COIN and its insane rules of engagement, which is Petraeus’ fault because it is his strategy. Nevertheless, all of them that died or were maimed not only in Afghanistan, but also in Iraq, died in vain because both operations couldn’t have been more misguided, more counterproductive, or more fantasy based. It’s what happens when you transform your military from a merit-based system to a diversity-based system.

      Indeed, the DHS created a series of informational DVDs to make us all more aware of the threat of terrorism, and in every case the terrorists in the DVDs were White people, and the people catching the terrorists, were Hispanic, Blacks, Asians, Muslims, and anything and everything in between but White. But that’s not even the worse thing about it; the worse thing about it is terrorism is not even the problem. Jihad is the problem and jihad and terrorism are entirely two different things altogether, but apparently our federal government is too incompetent to figure that out.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Apparently a lot of people are dinging my posts today because they are either leftists or otherwise establishment RINO and Neo-Con Republicans that don’t have the first clue about Islam or fully understand the nature of the threat we all face, and thus out of naivety and ignorance blindly trust our military establishment, which has been destroyed because it was hijacked and co-opted by the left and transformed from an institution that was formerly merit based to one that is now diversity based. Anyway, if you guys naively believe that the Sharia states we created in Afghanistan and Iraq will somehow miraculously end up being victories; then I have a bridge I need to sell you guys. Sorry, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our military establishment didn’t fail, but flat out refused to study the nature of our enemy because it wasn’t PC.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    One thing I would never do is patronize a business that spams another. No thank you! I'll pass.

  • mlcblog

    and we will bad mouth you, too.

    Please go elsewhere.

  • Rifleman

    That reminds me of Richard Pryor's "Processed Hair" skit off "Are You Serious."

    "No, I'm Puerto Rican."

  • Rifleman

    That's why I sometimes wonder if these aren't competitors trying to PO people at their rivals.

  • mlcblog

    I appreciate your humor as I sign off of this odd thread.

  • Rifleman

    It's a great album.