Thursday, January 7, 2010

Reporting from the New Surge

The NYT's Alissa Rubin today has a report that that spotlights much of what's oh-so-wrong about the US surge in Afghanistan:
  • resentment of the locals.  As US troops were throwing candy to the locals, a bomb went off, killing 5 Afghans (and wounding some Americans as well).  The locals are accusing the Americans of doing the bombing.  Of course, that's not what happened, but the point is that a lot of the locals believe it is and resent the US presence.
  • a US Special Forces operation stole its way into a village and "took out" a Taliban commander and his guards.  I'm sure McChrystal and the special-ops guys are bristling with pride, but I wonder how the locals feel about Americans who sneak in and shoot up people.
  • Joe Lieberman and John McCain are briefly on the scene, uttering words of sweet reassurance that we will "succeed" in Afghanistan just as we "succeeded" in Iraq, if we can only stay the course.
The course to what?  What is success going to look like?  And (as Andrew Bacevich recently asked, channeling David Petraeus' question early on during the Iraq invasion), can Joe and John tell us how this ends? 

Perhaps, with our military, our treasury, and whatever's left of our standing in the international community, trashed?  (see Doug Bandow's recent piece in The National Interest)

And if you're not yet convinced that what's happening in Afghanistan is related to broader developments - say, in Gaza - take note of the report in Haaretz (citing the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi ) that Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian physician who blew up the CIA operatives in Afghanistan, was furious about Israel's attack into the Gaza Strip last year and was also running a medical clinic in a Palestinian refugee camp.  The report also notes that

According to a statement posted on Islamist websites, the attack avenged the deaths of Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader killed by a US missile strike in August, as well as the deaths of Abi Saleh el-Somali and Abdullah el-Libi.

The two other Taliban commanders were killed in a drone attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan region in December.

Those dots really aren't all that difficult to connect, are they?

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