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Monday, February 15, 2010


Two days into the assault on Marjah in Helmand province, Afghanistan, and one has to wonder what all the fuss was about. One also has to wonder why there was any assault in the first place. It’s achieved absolutely nothing for the allies – apart that is, from having succeeded in capturing one of the largest heroin producing regions in Afghanistan.

The allies haven’t even come close to destroying the Taliban in the area. Thanks to the advanced warning given to all the people of Marjah of the forthcoming offensive, virtually all of the 200 or 300 local resistance fighters simply melted away with the rest of the population. As a result, allied forces have taken few casualties though 12 Afghan civilians were killed during a rocket attack launched by the allies. Most of the troops that were lined up for the assault weren’t needed and are being held in reserve.

Clearly, the aim, contrary to earlier statements, was not to destroy the Taliban. Why else would one warn an enemy of an impending assault? The Taliban have simply moved themselves out of harms way and will return at a later date once the main allied assault troops have moved out leaving only occupation troops. Obviously, that amount of troop deployment can’t be sustained just to hold the area. If that were followed through throughout Afghanistan then the allies would need several hundreds of thousands of troops to maintain control of the whole country if it takes 15,000 troops just to keep 200 to 300 Taliban fighters at bay. In classic guerrilla style, the insurgents will simply bide their time and then nibble away at the occupation troops that are left behind at a later date just when the occupiers relax their guard thinking that the fighters aren’t coming back.

As mentioned above, the allies have got off to a bad start by killing Afghan civilians. This is compounded by the fact that prior to launching their assault, the allies told civilians to stay where they were and to stay at home. The incident is likely only to succeed in enraging the resistance fighters further and to provide them with more fighters as the relatives and friends who have had their lives disrupted by the deaths seek to avenge them.

The whole exercise is one of futility. Obama has no idea as to how the Afghanistan war can ever be resolved. The Americans are unable to learn any of the lessons that were forced upon them from their past experiences of going to war against peoples in their own land. Apart from maybe wanting to acquire some poppy-growing real estate, this futile attack against the Afghan people which is likely only to end up killing civilians and kidz conned into uniforms, seems to be nothing less than a PR job by the allies to show that they are making use of the troops ‘surged’ to Afghanistan and that they can make a small region free of the Taliban – for a while at least. All the exercise has been so far is a massive display of allied firepower; a display that the Taliban fighters are hardly likely to be impressed by. And since the firepower has been unleashed at civilian’s houses, (the Taliban don’t have barracks to stay in), the civilians aren’t likely to be impressed either – especially as more and more of them are killed.

So, where to from here for Obama and the allies? Whose next on the allies Afghanistan hit list?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points Damian, reflected in a number of international articles who also conclude its for propaganda purposes in target countries where public support is waning.
The killing of the dozen civilians though undermines the whole effort at a stroke though, as this disaster is what's mainly reported internationally, so really the current push is already a failure.

Thanks for the cogent summary
Nylon Short