Bear with my whinery on Afghanistan (previous post.) Admittedly it is agonizing to see things falling apart in your country. Especially when you still have many family and friends and a whole childhood’s worth of happy and sad memories buried there -not to mention a painfully maintained resolve to return there after finishing school. So yes, I am going to be writing on Afghanistan.
Kevin Newman (blog) is an award-winning Canadian journalist and anchor of Global National TV program there (apparently Canada’s Nightline.) He was recently in Afghanistan covering “Operation Medusa.” This is the joint ANA/ISAF/NATO military offensive in the south that was led by Canadian forces aimed at ousting the Taliban from Panjwayi district and the Arghandab valley area of Kandahar. The operation has been one of the bloodiest both in terms of military (coalition and insurgents) and civilian losses of life. Reports of scores of civilians killed by in the various battles during and after the end of the offensive recently prompted an investigation into the civilian deaths, and later an apology from the NATO commander in Afghanistan. More on this later.
For now, I would like to call your attention to how Mr. Newman thinks “we might lose Afghanistan.” (Needless to say, I strongly agree with him on this):
“…Which is rampant in Afghanistan. The Afghan police are especially corrupt. To leave Kabul we had to keep paying authorities to make it past impromptu checkpoints without incident. A Westerner I chatted with at the airport says the cost of getting through it is now around US$300 in bribes. Regular Afghans are fed-up. Western money is flowing into corrupt officials and everyday people are not seeing enough change for the better in their lives. That is how we might lose Afghanistan.”
For more insight and anecdotes of his visit to Kandahar, how the military base there is one of the largest in the country and a rather well-kept secret, and thoughts on a “ramp ceremony,” visit his blog.