As the U.S. remains distracted by the conflict it started in Iraq, the mission in Afghanistan gets further and further away from being "accomplished".
The Taliban stronghold areas in Afghanistan lies in provinces that border Pakistan; but, recently, they have begun making inroads into provinces further inland and closer to Kabul.
Of the many tent poles used to justify the invasion of Iraq, the last one standing was Bush's assertion that by fighting terrorists in Iraq, we won't have to fight them here. Well, a new National Intelligence Estimate kicks over the last tent pole.
While campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, presidential candidate Barack Obama put forth the suggestion that U.S. troops in Iraq be sent to fight al Qaeda.
U.S. Intelligence analysts, in a report titled "Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West," have stated that al Qaeda has managed to regroup and rebuild back to the point it was at before September 11th.
Forty-one Republicans voted to block cloture on a bill to protect U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the failure of several contractors to deliver badly needed equipment on time, the U.S. Military's procurement practices have been called into question by the Pentagon's Inspector General.
Another tangible non-benefit of the War On Terror has been the dramatic rise in opium in Afghanistan. 2006 brought a record 6,700 tons of it, or 92 per cent of the world 7,300 tons total production. Much of this production is helping heroine supplant other drugs, like cannabis, as the drug of choice.
Further evidence has come to light that Iran is indeed fighting a proxy war against the United States and Britain in Afghanistan (and, no doubt, Iraq as well).
Before the fall of the Taliban in 2001, all media in Afghanistan was under state control. Now, as the fighting with the Taliban resumes, efforts are under way in the Afghan parliament to reign in the media once again.
Ahead of a NATO summit in Riga, George W Bush is pressing NATO allies for more troop commitments to bolster forces in Southern Afghanistan that are as much as 20% below the levels NATO commanders feel are appropriate to accomplish their mission.
The forces are ostensibly to aid the reconstruction effort, but a resurgent Taliban force in the area requires that the committed forces also be combat ready -- something several fledging NATO nations, like Estonia, are unwilling or unprepared to commit to.
Meanwhile, some of the largest NATO nations, the U.S., Britain, and France are facing political situations that make further troop commitments difficult to impossible. Bush faces a Democratic congress, while Blair and Chirac are almost certainly on their way out in coming months.
As the American military and people are distracted by the War in Iraq, the United States' first victory in the Bush Administration's 'War on Terror' continues to slide into defeat. Consider this lede from an Oct 2 Associated Press article:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their allies into the government.
Surprised by that? I was. I'm not surprised by the recognition that a war against an armed insurgency would be long and potentially futile. I'm surprised that that is coming from the Republic Majority Leader in the Senate.
It is also surprising the extent to which that sentiment undercuts the activities of NATO allies. Consider the appeal from the NATO Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Richards, for more troops to bolster his 32,000 man force:
He said the south of the country, where NATO troops have fought their most intense battles this year, has been "broadly stabilized," which gives the alliance an opportunity to launch projects there. If it doesn't, he estimates about 70 percent of Afghans could switch their allegiance from NATO to the Taliban.
As the Bush Administration continues to pat itself on the back for its successes in the
Global War on Terror, err, I mean War Against Islamic Fascists, Afghanistan continues to slip back into Taliban control.
Afghanistan's southern provinces are now producing record crops of opium amounting to 92% of the world's supply. Much of which fueling the Taliban.
In response to the problem, the Bush Administration's answer is to fund the fledgling Afghan goverment's efforts to eradicate the crops rather than taking matters into their own hands.
I thought we had learned our lesson when it comes to outsourcing in Afghanistan. If we'd had the backbone to handle the Tora Bora conflict ourselves during the invasion, instead of making the locals do it, we might have captured Osama bin Laden then.
When will the administration learn that Americans still support what we did in Afghanistan -- it's the one gold star on their report card. They need to retake ownership of the problem before it becomes another embarrassment.