Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Afghanistan: Hidden Battles And Secret Victories

Afghanistan: Hidden Battles And Secret Victories: " Many Afghans have noted that, while the Westerners can be deadly fighters, they do have their vulnerabilities. It's something of a competition among the tribes, to outdo each other in hustling the Westerners. The biggest hustle is obtaining foreign aid, while resisting anti-corruption efforts that seek to prevent crooked officials from stealing much of that aid. This is the real war in Afghanistan, for it takes place throughout the country.

The Taliban are relying more on suicidal attacks. The suicide bombers are obvious, but sending groups of gunmen away from Kandahar or the Pakistani border is also suicidal. The group that ambushed the French patrol outside Kabul two days ago, were soon found and attacked as they headed back to the border. About half of them were killed, wounded or captured. The Afghan "way of the warrior" does not endorse suicide attacks, so al Qaeda and their local allies have a hard time recruiting suicide bombers. Roadside bombs, and the prospect of loot from the victims of ambushes, is seen as respectable. There are more Afghan police and soldiers out there, and these are easier to kill and loot than the foreign troops. But, basically, if you have enough cash available, you can entice experienced fighters to accompany the ill-prepared religious school students recruited in Pakistan. The Taliban effort is more about religious faith and media manipulation, than it is a conventional military campaign. This is all a baffling mystery to most Westerners, because the mindset is so different. Afghanistan is a gun culture with a warrior mentality and a tribal society influenced by extreme religious ideas, greed and opportunism. Try and make a snappy headline out of all that. "

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