Saturday, September 09, 2006



Canadian troops serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan have faced some of the toughest, most blood-soaked battles of the 'War On Terror' so far.

As the bodies of their soldiers pile up, Canadian military and government officials are now stating what most have been privately discussing for weeks : They can't beat the Taliban using military force alone.

It's the most shocking, and sobering, lesson of the 4th World War - Western military forces, generally, cannot win decisive and sustainable victories against militant Islamic guerilla armies.

In Iraq, in Afghanistan and most recently in Lebanon, this harsh truth is developing a genuinely disturbing repetitiveness.

From the Toronto Star :
With Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan locked down in one of this country's biggest battles in modern times, Ottawa's top military officials conceded yesterday the Taliban cannot be eliminated by force.

The revelations — first by Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor in an interview from Australia, and later confirmed by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier in Ottawa — are certain to stun Canadians who are increasingly concerned about the rising number of Canadian casualties in Afghanistan.

Thirty-two soldiers have died since Canada deployed troops there in 2002.

Sixteen have died in the past three months alone.

The comments came on a day when NATO's supreme commander, U.S. Gen. James Jones, called for reinforcements from member nations for the embattled southern region, where Canadians, Americans, Dutch and British are leading the fight.

"We cannot eliminate the Taliban," O'Connor told a Reuters reporter in Australia, "not militarily anyway. We've got to get them back to some sort of acceptable level ..."

The Canadian-led Medusa was launched last weekend to clear the region of insurgents. It has long been a Taliban stronghold.

The operation had been planned for weeks and allied troops even dropped leaflets warning civilians to flee before the shooting started.

NATO commanders were surprised by the number of insurgents — estimated at more than 1,000 — who chose to stay and fight, despite the advance notice.

U.S. Gen. Jones said in Belgium that NATO was also surprised by the intensity of the resistance and the fact the Taliban were not relying on traditional hit-and-run tactics.
Patrick Cockburn, writing here in the UK Independent, believes the early victories of the 'War On Terror', immediately following the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, are now lost in a sea of misjudgements in Iraq and the overwhelming volume of skilled Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Beating the Taliban in 2001, he argues, was all too easy and the real (delayed) war on the Taliban is now underway :
It is the war that was meant to have ended for good. Just under five years ago the Taliban fled Kabul without firing a shot. But yesterday the Islamic militants showed they were back with a vengeance when a massive suicide bomb blew up beside an American convoy in the city killing 18 Afghans and two US soldiers. Fighting between the Taliban and Nato forces is raging across the south of the country.

The victory won by President George Bush in 2001 after the 11 September al-Qa'ida attacks on America has evaporated. "The fighting is extraordinarily intense. The intensity and ferocity of the fighting is far greater than in Iraq on a daily basis," the commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Brig Ed Butler said this week. Taliban units have taken over swaths of country around Kandahar and are increasingly active in and around the capital.

NATO troops are fighting for their lives in Afghanistan in battles which left hundreds of Taliban dead this week alone. The Taliban use tactics found so effective by guerrillas in Iraq. Suicide bombers driving vehicles packed with explosives, as happened yesterday in Kabul, are a horribly effective way of destabilising a government. It forces foreign forces to retreat into fortified bases.

The roadside bomb, which has inflicted half of American casualties in Iraq, is a simple but fierce some weapon against a vehicle-borne army.

The British Government was warned what might happen. Generals admitted privately that in Afghanistan and in Iraq British soldiers could end up penned into their encampments unable to move outside its fortifications. It is nevertheless strange that the Government, having become entangled in a messy guerrilla war in Iraq, should make exactly the same mistake in Afghanistan.

Go Here For An Excellent Series Of Reports On Canada's Fight Against The Taliban And Al Qaeda In Afghanistan

Dozens Die In Kabul From Worst Terror Attack Since The Fall Of The Taliban

2300 Killed In Fighting So Far This Year - NATO Claims 300 Taliban Fighters Killed In Last Few Days Of Battle

19 Brits Killed In Afghanistan In Less Than One Week - British Troops Increasingly At Risk

NATO Assault Kills 200 Taliban Fighters, 4 Canadian Soldiers Die

America's Ally In The War On Terror Signs Peace Deal With The Enemy : Pakistan Cuts Non-Violence Pact With Pro-Taliban Militants