Think Tank Shocker: Taliban Very Strong in Afghanistan!

by Joshua Foust on 12/8/2008

Somehow, the think tank formerly known as the Senlis Council’s report on how the Taliban are really strong in Eastern Afghanistan and now threaten Kabul is really big, breaking news.

Of course, they’ve been saying variations on this theme for a while:

  • “Afghanistan Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban,” September, 2006
  • “Countering The Insurgency In Afghanistan:Losing Friends And Making Enemies,” February, 2007
  • “On a knife edge: Rapid Assessment Field Survey, Southern and Eastern Afghanistan,” May, 2007
  • “Taliban politics and Afghan legitimate grievances,” June, 2007
  • “Stumbling into chaos: Afghanistan on the brink,” November, 2007
  • “Afghanistan – Decision Point 2008,” February, 2008
  • “Chronic Failures in the War on Terror – From Afghanistan to Somalia,” April, 2008

This isn’t to argue that the Council formerly-known-as Senlis is wrong—it is a good idea to draw attention to the serious tactical and strategic flaws in the NATO mission in Afghanistan—but rather to highlight two things: 1) that this group is taking this stance is not OMGNEWSWORTHY; and 2) How long can a country really be on the knife’s edge, or the brink or whatever? Regular readers here know that I do not minimize the dangers the West faces in terms of losing the war there, but at the same time you can only wave your hands and shout so many times before people stop paying attention.

Then there’s the hyperbole. If the Taliban really were infiltrating Kabul “at will,” as ICOS asserts in their report, there’d be, I dunno… evidence of it. Instead, reporters based there certainly won’t say things are horrific, but they’re also no Green Zone either. And of course, its solution to the narcotics problem is just as starry-eyed as it was when it was the Senlis Council: legalize, and suddenly the problem vanishes. I would love for reality to be that straightforward, wouldn’t you?


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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 Registan.net. 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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