80 Killed in a suicide bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan. In a brazen attack on Afghanis attending a dog fight a suicide bomber stuck killing one of the most respected anti-Taliban commanders in that country. Abdul Hakim a guerrilla leader that led attacks against the soviets appears to have been the target. This is certainly a blow to the security of Afghanistan.
The past few years the Taliban has been on the rise. Why? How? When I left in 2003 they were nearly non existent. Yes, they conducted small attacks here and there but nothing as bold as the recent attacks made in and around Kandahar. What is different now?
The difference appears to be a force not willing to actually fight the Taliban. I’m not talking about the soldiers on the ground. While I was there nearly every ISAF soldier was willing to take the fight to the Taliban yet their leadership even more risk averse than ours wouldn’t let them out the gate. As the fight was turned over to NATO weakness prevailed. Appeasement was the plan not destruction of an enemy force. This has allowed a resurgence in the Taliban along with a bumper crop of poppy.
The US was certainly not innocent in this. It was only a few months after our initial invasion of Afghanistan that our civilian and military leadership pushed too fast to put an Afghani face on everything. US leadership didn’t see the real need to completely destroy the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Phase IV they called it, “Reconstruction”. Were we in fact in a position to begin that phase? No we weren’t. As this agenda was pushed we in the field were still getting rocketed and shot at.
It hasn’t been since WWII that we understood that victory in war must be total. If it is not total it will continue indefinitely. For some reason beginning with Korea the goal has been to get into a fight then run away at the first opportunity, leaving a damn mess. At least Korea was a cease fire.
We quit Afghanistan twice. After the Soviets decided the place simply wasn’t worth the blood we yelled victory and left before they could get their country in order and the Taliban took over. Our promises, our assets and any chance of influence were gone.
This time we reduced our numbers and NATO took over. With a new policy that somehow believed if we just ask them to be nice they would certainly take that chance and go away. What the Taliban actually saw was weakness and started taking back villages. This happened all while Coalition forces watched. I’m sure the ground troops knew they would have to go back in and clean up again at some point.
Soon American forces will be back in Afghanistan with a larger force but will America be back with them? And if not, how will we ever win? Politicians will continue to use these wars as political leverage rather than a rally to finish what we start.