Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

"Kill them all; God will know his own."

Or not:

Scores of civilian deaths over the past months from heavy American and allied reliance on airstrikes to battle Taliban insurgents are threatening popular support for the Afghan government and creating severe strains within the NATO alliance.

Afghan, American and other foreign officials say they worry about the political toll the civilian deaths are exacting on President Hamid Karzai, who last week issued another harsh condemnation of the American and NATO tactics, and even of the entire international effort here.

What angers Afghans are not just the bombings, but also the raids of homes, the shootings of civilians in the streets and at checkpoints, and the failure to address those issues over the five years of war. Afghan patience is wearing dangerously thin, officials warn.

The civilian deaths are also exposing tensions between American commanders and commanders from other NATO countries, who have never fully agreed on the strategy to fight the war here, in a country where there are no clear battle lines between civilians and Taliban insurgents. you think treating civilians as "collateral damage" is not exactly a way to win hearts and minds? Note, also, the subtle way the third paragraph undermines the entire thesis of the opening paragraph.

Just what are we doing in Afghanistan? The excuses sound painfully familiar; and simply pathetic:

But American officials say that they have been forced to use air power more intensively as they have spread their reach throughout Afghanistan, raiding Taliban strongholds that had gone untouched for six years. One senior NATO official said that “without air, we’d need hundreds of thousands of troops” in the country. They also contend that the key to reducing casualties is training more Afghan Army soldiers and police officers.
But since we can't do that, the solution seems to be: dust off and nuke the whole place from space.

It's the only way to be sure.

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