II) A Troop Surge for Afghanistan – Maybe.

It appears that the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was convinced of the case for additional troops for Afghanistan during his trip to Kabul, and not only because of ُSen. Hillary Clinton’s call. According to the SecDef, who held a number of closed-doors meetings with top US commanders in Afghanistan, the grunts on the ground were able to make the case for additional troops especially on the eve of the Taliban’s perennial “spring offensive.” It is likely that the secretary heard similiar calls for added troops during his meetings with Afghan government officials who have all but wearied of the setbacks of 2006. (In 2006 insurgent attacks were up by 400% from 2005 levels, and jumped another 100% only during the month of December.)

It remains to be seen how the SecDef will in turn make the case to the American Commander in Chief, and what will the US joint chiefs of staff (who will study the request from commanders in Afghanistan) recommend. If the year 2007 is to prove any different for Afghanistan, renewed committment of troops and resources is a necessity. Much has changed since the post-Bonn lull that lasted from 2002-2005 and that gave everyone the impression that things were going quite well in Afghanistan – especially so as the situation in Iraq looked bleak by comparison. That 3-year window of opportunity was squandered by all parties – the government of Afghanistan, and the US and international presence- and now a fresh, reinvigorated push is needed to restore the country to a satisfactory homeostasis in terms of security and political stability.

If there is a saving grace, in the face of the resurgence of the Taliban and the lost opportunities for success, it is the resilience of the people of Afghanistan and their tireless committment to seeing things improve. That committment was on display yesterday, when two civilians prevented a truck bomber from detonating his 300 pounds of explosives in front of a US base in Kabul. Were it not for this, given the disappointing pace of reconstruction and the corruption and cynicism of the political elite, no one would be able to make even the self-serving comparisons with the situation in Iraq. Yet that resilience and patience is wearing out now -even by Afghanistan’s standards where civil war and the absence of government for decades has fostered very low expectations of what governments should do for their people. It remains to be seen how aware of this fact are the Afghan government officials, and by extension the US government. A telling sign would be whether upon Secretary Gates’s return, the US government considers sending more troops to Afghanistan. (Watch out for the 3rd and last segment of this post.)

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3 Responses to II) A Troop Surge for Afghanistan – Maybe.

  1. hatif says:

    dear hamisha,
    i am not sure if shoud l write some thing in this regard on my blog– with more details– but here i would like to say that a troop surge in Afghanistan might work in the short term. for a longer period, pakistan will take new measures to enable the Taliban in coping with the new circumstances. The troop surge in Iraq may result in bigger gains in camparison. Mr Gates called Pakistan an ” extraordinarily strong ally”, meaning that Pakistan’s leverages are working well with the US. If Washington – is anybody else there?- does not put enough pressure on Pakistan, there is no way to find any promissing point in a troop surge in Afghanistan. Pakistan knows that when the war is prolonged in Afghanistan, a kind of social erusion will gradually tear the country apart into an archipelago where warlords belong to. How long will the foriegn troops stay in Afghanistan? This brings me to the conclusion that if there is a need to work more on the political side of Iraq issue, there is an even bigger need to do so about Pakistan.

  2. afghan says:

    the arrested Taliban spokesman says, Taliban has the full support of some pakistan specailly the ISI. And a retired pakistani general is organizing the suicide attacks and offensives of Taliban. What the Afghan government and NATO forces and US government should do, is to put more pressure on Pakistan to leave this dual behavior.

  3. More boots on the ground can’t be too bad at this juncture, though Iraq is a huge siphon and who knows may be Iran is what doctored ordered for desert.

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