Sunday :: Apr 4, 2010

All For Naught: The Taliban Reseize Control In Marjah

by Turkana

Despite a doubling of overall American troop deaths, compared to last year in Afghanistan...

Despite accidentally bombing innocent civilians...

Despite a third of the local surviving civilians fleeing and becoming refugees...

Despite ending efforts to eradicate the local opium trade...

And with the Afghan military proving, essentially, useless...

Things aren't getting better in Marjah, Afghanistan. That is, unless you're the Taliban. The New York Times has the grim news:

Just a few weeks since the start of the operation here, the Taliban have “reseized control and the momentum in a lot of ways” in northern Marja, Maj. James Coffman, civil affairs leader for the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, said in an interview in late March. “We have to change tactics to get the locals back on our side.”

How that is to happen is anyone's guess. Having one's region made the center of a devastating military conflict tends to sour one on the foreign power leading that military assault.

One tribal elder from northern Marja, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being killed, said in an interview on Saturday that the killing and intimidation continued to worsen.

So, what was accomplished, by devastating the region?

The local problem points to the larger challenges ahead as American forces expand operations in the predominantly Pashtun south, where the Taliban draw most of their support and the government is deeply unpopular.

It's hard to imagine why the government would be so unpopular. Other than that election that was stolen. Other than the endemic corruption that President Obama continues to warn Afghan "President" Karzai to end. The same Karzai who so respects President Obama that not only does he not end the corruption, he effectively mocks the president's regional goals.

In Marja, the Taliban are hardly a distinct militant group, and the Marines have collided with a Taliban identity so dominant that the movement appears more akin to the only political organization in a one-party town, with an influence that touches everyone. Even the Marines admit to being somewhat flummoxed.

In other words, this isn't a war against some hated foreign foe. Unless you're a local, likely aligned with the Taliban, and that hated foreign foe is us. We are the invaders. The Taliban and the locals are indistinguishable. They are largely identical. Are we to try to kill them all? What, exactly, are we trying to accomplish? Other than death and devastation, both to the locals and to our troops, what are we accomplishing? Our allied Afghan soldiers accidentally killed, this time by our German allies. That's what.

The good news, though, is that the war is moving on. To another Taliban stronghold. Kandahar. Which, you can be certain, will enjoy the same great success just visited on Marjah.

Turkana :: 1:59 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!