The Wall Street Journal has released some UN maps of violence and relative security across Afghanistan. Most remarkable is the deterioration of security in the north:
In the October map, just as in March’s, virtually all of southern Afghanistan—the focus of the coalition’s military offensives—remained painted the red of “very high risk,” with no noted security improvements. At the same time, the green belt of “low risk” districts in northern, central and western Afghanistan shriveled considerably.
The U.N.’s October map upgraded to “high risk” 16 previously more secure districts in Badghis, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh, Parwan, Baghlan, Samangan, Faryab, Laghman and Takhar provinces; only two previously “high risk” districts, one in Kunduz and one in Herat province, received a safer rating…
The assessments of the U.N. accessibility maps, based on factors such as insurgent activity, political stability, coalition operations and community acceptance, contrast with President Barack Obama’s recent statements that hail the coalition’s progress in the war.
That last comment is kind of the key to this. At the WSJ notes, the Pentagon and the UN agree that Afghanistan is substantially worse off this year compared to every year that’s come before. While a few areas are showing improvement, far more areas are showing a worrying deterioration. And the Obama Administration is, basically, sticking its fingers in its ears and yelling LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.
Kind of comforting, no? But there is an upside. Perhaps counterintuitively, the advance of some insurgent groups into these areas can present an opportunity for a political resolution to the violence. I’ve taken to heart the requests for ideas about how to implement the “call to reason” I signed, which calls for negotiations with Taliban groups to end the war. Later today (I hope!) I’ll write a more thorough treatment of how this advance provides just that opportunity we need.