21 Nov. 2007

Closing In On Kabul


Meanwhile, in that other very important war:
The conflict in Afghanistan has reached "crisis proportions", with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul, a report says.
Now, NATO only really controls Kabul, and only ever really has. And the famous Coalition of the Willing is pretty thin on the ground these days. And this will be a guerrilla war through the streets. Do we Aussies really, really want to be there?

Tis is another extraordinary failure of diplomacy and foresight. All the money wasted in Iraq could have been spent on building new roads, schools and other facilities for the people of Afghanistan. That country would now be a beacon of hope to the Middle East, a shining example of Western values.

But of course, those "values" never existed anyway, except in a dream that died long ago.
Senlis said its research had established that the Taliban, driven out of Afghanistan by the US invasion in late 2001, had rebuilt a permanent presence in 54 per cent of the country and was finding it easy to recruit new followers.

It was also increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside and suicide bombs, to powerful effect, and had built a stable network of financial support, funding its operations with the proceeds from Afghanistan's booming opium trade.

"It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when," the report said.

"Their oft-stated aim of reaching the city in 2008 appears more viable than ever."

NATO has a little over 40,000 troops operating in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The United States and Britain are the largest contributors, with 15,000 and 7,700 soldiers, respectively.

Those numbers pale in comparison to Iraq where at the peak of operations there were nearly 200,000 troops on the ground and where around 160,000 remain.

There are around 970 Australian troops serving in Afghanistan.
Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?
"I am very proud of the fact that we are now spending 47 per cent more in real terms on our defence forces."
That was John Howard today, reflecting on his 11 years in power. Yeah, that's called "the defence of Australia", what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tell that to the kids in those countries, John.