At Some Point, the U.S. Will Wake Up and Care

by Joshua Foust on 11/6/2007 · 5 comments

While Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry fights censorship to urge resistance to Musharraf’s latest coup, matters across the Durand Line continue to worsen. In a surreal development, roving motorcycle gangs of Taliban fighters actually seized a district in Day Kundi province—southwest of Kabul, and just north of Helmand and Uruzgan. While that isn’t extraordinary (even if tragic, like a temporary occupation of Musa Qala earlier this year), what I found remarkable was this:

Day Kundi’s governor, Sultan Ali Uruzgani… said he asked the Afghan government and NATO for reinforcements but that the area hasn’t received any such support yet. The district borders Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, which have both seen heavy fighting this year.

Taliban militants within the last week also overran Bakwal and Gulistan districts in Farah province. An attempt to take a third Farah district was stopped Monday, said Farah police spokesman Bariyalai Khan. He said troops would soon take back the other two districts.

Not to become a broken record, but that is not how you win a counterinsurgency, by being so pathetically understaffed you can’t stop a few dozen guys on dirt bikes. It doesn’t matter that these districts are eventually cleared—the Taliban has never fared well in combat against real soldiers, and especially not against American troops. The point is that letting this happen in the first place—confirming the most compelling Taliban propaganda that the government and ISAF are too spread out and incompetent to protect people—is deeply counterproductive.

Meanwhile, north of Kabul, in a region that is otherwise fairly calm and tourist-friendly, a bomb went off at a factory, killing 64 people, including several members of parliament.

This will continue so long as NATO—including the U.S., and all of its partners—insist on shorting the mission personnel, equipment, and funding.

Update: Don’t miss the far more nuanced event coverage by Péter Marton.

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Inkan1969 November 6, 2007 at 10:16 am

What can be done to force the U.S./NATO/ISAF to finally commit the needed troop numbers to confront the Taliban on the ground and kick their air strike dependence, as well as step up reconstruction efforts? I can’t answer that question. I’m left utterly horrified at the huge loss of life from this recent suicide bombing; I can’t say what the ramifications of this bombing are going to be.

Péter November 6, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Hello Josh,
Correct me if you’re aware of something I’m not aware of, but I think Musa Qala is still under the Taliban’s control. With media reporting of the quality we all dislike I can’t be sure about that, but this ABC article at the end of September still noted how unexpected it was that polio eradication could go ahead in Musa Qala district, despite its being in Talib control:
Otherwise the pattern you describe is of course there, it’s just that MQ (and many areas of Uruzgan, as well as some in Zabul and Kandahar) are a deviation from that pattern, with more persistent Taliban presence.
To Inkan: How to get greater troop numbers? As long as some NATO members aren’t ready to make even a sufficient economic contribution, I really don’t know. We just have to keep on asking that question, for as much as that matters.

Joshua Foust November 6, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Péter, I haven’t found any updates on the village either, so I’m left assuming the Taliban control it. Leaving the Taliban in control like that, however, is bloody proof we are underinvesting in the country, and it pains me to watch. We — the U.S., but also Europe — promised them we would remove the Taliban and help them improve their lives. We not only are actively breaking that promise (and Afghans hold promises in high regard), but because of that innocent people are being subjected to horrifying brutality.

That pains me too, and it’s difficult not to become almost cripplingly angry over it.

Péter November 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Yeah, it is. For another example, there’s an ongoing debate in the Netherlands about what happened in June in Chora, a district of Uruzgan. Whether force was properly used to take back the district from the Taliban, which occupied some of it in heavy fighting against the locals. Not many seem to raise the question of why Chora fell to the Taliban in the first place.
Could a more significant ISAF presence and more of a firm commitment to help the locals have deterred an attack there? I would definitely think so.
(Of course that’s not to say it’s the Netherlands’ fault as such, given how they have asked for more contribution from other countries before.)

leon November 7, 2007 at 12:35 pm

The May 15th Prophecy has accurately predicted the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The May 15th Prophecy has been the only source that have given detail with 100% accuracy of what is really happening in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and the greater Middle East

You should do a Goggle search of the “May 15th Prophecy” or go to

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