Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 8, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CHART OF THE DAY....Via Nukes & Spooks, this chart from a recent CSIS report is a vivid illustration of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. In addition to the relentlessly rising U.S. casualties shown below, CSIS also reports a steady rise in the number of "security incidents," the total amount of violence, the number of attacks, the number of IEDs and roadside bombs, the number of suicide bombings, and the number of no-go zones under the control of the Taliban and other insurgent groups:

The nature of the incidents has however changed considerably since last year, with high numbers of armed clashes in the field giving way to a combination of armed clashes and asymmetric attacks countrywide. The Afghan National Police (ANP) has become a primary target of insurgents and intimidation of all kinds has increased against the civilian population, especially those perceived to be in support of the government, international military forces as well as the humanitarian and development community.

The good news: most Afghans remain opposed to terrorist activity and a solid majority want the multinational forces to stay in Afghanistan for 3-5 more years or longer.

Kevin Drum 1:21 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Comments

Not very promising, is it?

Posted by: Crissa on July 8, 2008 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Jeebus I'll be glad when all the oil is gone.

Posted by: Pete Oil on July 8, 2008 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

But I'm not sure of the point here. Is the argument to exit out of Afghanistan? or to commit more troops there?

Isn't Barama's position to focus on Afghanistan by hastening an exit from the Iraq mess?

Posted by: pencarrow on July 8, 2008 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

If'n Bush was my cowboy pard, I'd say, "Let's git bin Laden and vamoose."

As I walked out on the streets of Laredo,
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen
Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.

Posted by: Luther on July 8, 2008 at 2:35 AM | PERMALINK

Stromberg's First Law - there is no situation anywhere in the world that American intervention can't make worse.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 8, 2008 at 6:01 AM | PERMALINK

What terrible luck. We're bound to do better in Iran. I can feel it.

Posted by: B on July 8, 2008 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

I see you're giving obama a "free pass" on selling out the fourth ammendment - the FISA bill is a dangerous precedenceCall the Obama campaign

866-675-2008 To get through:

1. Wait until the message asks you to press 4 for your contribution.

2. Press 6 instead. A volunteer will answer.

3. Tell them we expect more from a self-proclaimed "constitutional expert" that uses the slogan "yes we can".

Posted by: on July 8, 2008 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

CSIS also reports a steady rise in the number of "security incidents," the total amount of violence, the number of attacks, the number of IEDs and roadside bombs, the number of suicide bombings, and the number of no-go zones under the control of the Taliban and other insurgent groups....

Not only is this good news -- for Rudy Giuliani! -- it's also a sign of the insurgent's increasing desperation, and the surest indicator yet that the mission is accomplished!

Posted by: Stefan on July 8, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

The current violence in Afganistan is related to the gas pipeline that will go thru Afganistan to Pakistan and on to India. The Taliban want their cut, as the pipeline must go thru their territory. The recent attack on the Indian embassy was no random act.

Posted by: moms on July 8, 2008 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

No one could possibly have foreseen that an extended land war in Asia by a Western power against a native insurgency could have turned out poorly.....

Posted by: Stefan on July 8, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Stefan: No one could possibly have foreseen that an extended land war in Asia by a Western power against a native insurgency could have turned out poorly

STILL it might have turned out WELL.

Posted by: Vinegar Joe on July 8, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

The chart only measures US casualties, as if they are victims of their own occupation of a foreign nation. The best way to reduce US casualties is to leave, and it is also the best way to reduce Afghani casualties, which is much more important.

Where is the chart measuring how many Afghani children US/NATO forces have killed?

Posted by: Brojo on July 8, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

STILL it might have turned out WELL.

Sorry, Vinegar Joe, but I believe your Burmese campaign was directed at the Imperial Japanese Army, which was itself an occupying power in Burma, so the comparison doesn't quite fly.

Posted by: Stefan on July 8, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

"The good news: most Afghans remain opposed to terrorist activity and a solid majority want the multinational forces to stay in Afghanistan for 3-5 more years or longer."

This is joke, right? If most Afghans oppose terrorists (who among us does not?) I'm sure they can handle it. We have no effing business over there.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on July 8, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

"No one could possibly have foreseen that an extended land war in Asia by a Western power against a native insurgency could have turned out poorly....."
___________________

Oh, we can be pretty sure most of our military leadership foresaw this, which is why they have never been keen on jamming tens of thousands more troops into Afghanistan. The CSIS report is pretty accurate. It would be useful to overlay the areas of responsibility by NATO country and Taliban activity.

A "winning" strategy is one in which we hold off the Taliban while encouraging good government and building infrastructure. Nothing will come quickly or easily, though. And there is always the possibility that some Administration will decide to settle for seeking that "decent interval" between our getting out and chaos reigning once again.

Posted by: trashhauler on July 8, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The primary reasons the situation in Afghanistan has been on a downhill slide since 2003 are:

-giving too much local control to the warlords whose corruption and factional disputes provided the original opening for the Taliban after the Soviets were expelled.

-insufficient boots on the ground, leading to excessive use of air strikes and an inability to actually control territory.

-the complete failure to deliver on promised reconstruction aid, including both spending far less than was promised and directing most of that money to American contractors that overcharge for inferior work, resulting in less of the needed infrastructure being built and far, far, fewer Afghanis being employed in the process.

For a good rundown on some of the problems, particularly with the reconstruction efforts, check out Why it's not working in Afghanistan By Ann Jones

or Peter Bergen: Why the Taliban is back.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 9, 2008 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

"insufficient boots on the ground, leading to excessive use of air strikes and an inability to actually control territory."
________________

Insufficient boots on the ground do not lead to "excessive" use of air strikes. Air strikes are almost always in support of personnel on the ground. Therefore, any increase of "boots on the ground" will result in more, not less, bombing.


Posted by: trashhauler on July 9, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Insufficient boots on the ground do not lead to "excessive" use of air strikes.

Wrong or lying (or both) as usual:

"We are using air power in lieu of putting extensive forces on the ground [in Afghanistan]," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Allen Peck, commander of the Air Force Doctrine Development and Education Center.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-10-21-airstrikes_N.htm.

Do you never tire of it?

Also, the air strikes are "excessive" because they thwart good counterinsurgency practices, namely winning over a populace instead of blowing them to bits and pissing them off.

And you were wrong/lying upthead about military commanders "not being keen" to "cram" (hilarious usage, by the way) more troops into that country. In fact, they're on record saying they're desperate for them but the resources are tied up in Iraq.

Why do you hate the troops?

Posted by: trex on July 9, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I see a downward trend since last August according to this chart. What am I missing? The leftist media is quick to point out that deaths in Afghanistan have overtaken those in Iraq. The piece of analysis they leave out is the great decline of deaths in Iraq due to our success there. The taliban makes a charge every year and once again they are being defeated handily. I'm not sure what the point of the story is here.

Posted by: Mike on July 15, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK
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