From Simon Jenkins in the U.K. Times. Several interesting quotes:
The operation, coming after four such failed endeavors, is a show not of force but of face. When the troops return to the security of Kabul they will leave behind a few hundred corpses, some destroyed villages, a thousand new Taliban recruits and tens of thousands of angered and disillusioned Afghans. There is nothing new under the Afghan sun.
Nobody in London or Kabul can offer a clear mission statement for the 3,300 soldiers garrisoning it, only implausible remarks about "establishing the preconditions for nation building".
And an interesting fact: over 80% of the country is no longer under the control of the central government:
Kabul is now a statelet crammed with the cosmopolitan staff of massed United Nations development agencies and 800 NGOs, many withdrawn from an unsafe hinterland.
And a last interesting fact, not from this piece but from a report (summarized here) released a week or so ago: the Taliban are garnering popular support in the South and elsewhere by positioning themselves as protectors of the opium farmers. They are in fact about to win the battle for the hearts and minds of the local population in these areas. The report (by the Senlis Council) suggests that the best way to counter Taliban efforts is to lay off the opium farmers and, by implication, let Heroin flow freely into the West again.
Again, the Americans want out of Afghanistan, and want to palm this disaster off on their allies, including Canada. I am tired of listening to
Harper and Ignatieff blithering on about "fulfilling our obligations" and staying the course when "the going gets tough". We and the other allies have been played for suckers by a corrupt U.S administrationon. It is time to acknowledge as much and steer our foreign policy accordingly.