I had one of those OMG/WTF moments the other day. I agreed with something that the Usurper-in-Chief said. In trying to sell what has become “Obama’s War,” the TOTUS said the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting. In that, I’m in complete agreement. It’s also a war which I believe the Bush Administration royally screwed up.
Having put the Taliban on their heels in 2001, we did some high-visibility projects (the road between Kandahar and Kabul for example) and then for the most part, walked away. We neglected the villages and people in the countryside. We left them open to reinfiltration by the Taliban. We took the easy road of installing in government positions some of the very warlords whose corrupt and venal actions helped fuel the rise of the Taliban in first place. The war was won. All we had to do was make sure we didn’t lose the peace and in that, we failed miserably.
So now we have a war again, but contrary to media spin and the “expert” opinion of certain analysts, this war is winnable and it is worth it, as yesterday’s election demonstrated. For weeks we’ve been told of how the Taliban would wreak havoc and render the election meaningless. Some media have even referred to a “guerilla army” advancing on the cities. One analyst at “Foreign Policy” even grossly distorted General Stanley McCrystal’s words in an article saying that the Taliban were winning the war.
Election Day has come and gone and 40% – 50% of the voters seem to have voted. We won’t know the actual percentage for at least another day. Gee, that’s a pretty normal election cycle in the US. Reporters on the ground in Helmand and Kandahar provinces were surprised at the turnout, these being the worst provinces in terms of violence. Afghans literally voted under fire! The fact that millions did vote, even in the troublesome provinces, is a very encouraging sign.
There were about 130 “security incidents” in 15 provinces out of 34. Keep in mind that “security incident” does not necessarily mean Taliban or anti-government forces directed at the election process. We still have the usual kidnappings, robberies, vendettas and such going on and some of those often look like insurgent activity. It seems that the Taliban basically shot their wad and came up short, even with the media playing propaganda machine for them. By late in the day almost nothing was happening even in the troublesome south.
Yesterday’s events demonstrated that Afghans are interested in the democratic process, even under threat of death and dismemberment. Events demonstrated that the Taliban are not nearly as strong as the media has portrayed them. I often wonder just whose side the Western media are on. The Afghan security forces were primarily responsible for security with Coalition Forces keeping a low profile. The Afghans handled things pretty much on their own.
If we can avoid more stupid policy decisions, this war is both winnable and worth it. We mostly need to just back up the Afghans and encourage them. Afghans are tough determined people and they are willing to carry most of the fight. All they ask is that we don’t abandon them…again.