When the US went to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan in the weeks following September 11, 2001, they had most of the world on their side. It was seen as a just and necessary war by the West, Al Qaeda training bases had to be destroyed and Afghanistan had to be freed from the absurd and horrific ultra-religious rule of the Taliban.
Half a thousand Special Forces soldiers from the UK, Australia and the US struck fast and hard and deep, backed by the world's most destructive collection of air power. Within fourteen days, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had run out of targets. There's nothing left worth bombing he is said to have complained to commanders in the Pentagon.
That first month of the 'War On Terror' was a triumph. The Taliban were mostly chased out of the capital Kabul, and other population and business centres like Kandahar, and Osama Bin Laden disappeared into the mountains bordering Pakistan. Best of all for the West, military and civilian casualties were low.
There was nation building to do, but the Bush White House wasn't interested. They had already set their plans for a War On Iraq into action. Securing Afghanistan was not going to get in the way of their plans to secure strategic bases in the heart of the Middle East.
Now NATO forces, and US forces, are paying a heavy price for the failure of Bush Co to complete the follow-thru in Afghanistan. The War On Iraq is a disaster, and now Afghanistan is going the same way, the civilian and military death tolls are climbing steadily.
Back in Washington, they just can't stop talking about Iran and Syria.
From the UK Guardian :
The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan yesterday described the situation in the country as "close to anarchy" with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.
The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were "running out of time" if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.
The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign, Gen Richards said. "That is clearly not the case," he said yesterday. He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions cynically manipulated by "anarcho-warlords".
Corrupt local officials were fuelling the problem and Nato's provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan were sending out conflicting signals, Gen Richards told a conference at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
"The situation is close to anarchy," he said, referring in particular to what he called "the lack of unity between different agencies".
Gen Richards will also take command of the 4,500-strong British brigade in Helmand province at the heart of the hostile, poppy-growing south of the country when it comes under Nato's overall authority.
He said yesterday that Nato "could not afford not to succeed" in its attempt to bring long-term stability to Afghanistan and build up the country's national army and security forces. He described the mission as a watershed for Nato, taking on "land combat operations for the first time in its history".
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