Sunday, October 4, 2009

Eight U.S. Troops Killed in Afghanistan: Aggressive Attack Shows Insurgents Gaining at AF-PAK Border

It's the big foreign policy story this morning. Both NYT and WaPo have major reports. The fighting took place in the remote eastern section of Afghanistan, in Nurestan province. The news reports describe a brazen offensive featuring tribal militias making cross-border raids. From the Washington Post's report:

The U.S. military said it was not immediately clear how many insurgents were involved in the fighting. The attack involved Taliban fighters and appeared to be led by a local commander of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group, which is run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former mujaheddin leader during the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The attack took place in a sparsely populated area of forested mountains near the town of Kamdeysh. The deputy police chief of Nurestan province, Mohammad Farouq, said the insurgents intended to seize control of the Kamdeysh area and that hundreds took part in the fighting. He said more than 20 Afghan soldiers and police have gone missing since the fighting began and may have been taken hostage.

"Americans always want to fight in Afghanistan," said Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, who took credit for the attack by telephone. "If the Americans want to increase their troops, we will increase our fighters as well."

He said the battle began about 6 a.m. Saturday and involved 250 Taliban fighters. He claimed that dozens of American and Afghan soldiers were killed, along with seven Taliban fighters. Mujahid also claimed that the district police chief and intelligence chief were among the hostages, but that could not be confirmed.
I'm reminded of how I felt in November 2006. Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek's liberal but respected foreign policy analyst, published a heavy-duty essay entitled "The Drawdown Option." The piece threw down the gauntlet on the Iraq war. Go all in or get out. My response, amid the frustrations, was to give the U.S. a year to turn things around. We had face over two years of catastrophic danger in the war, and the radical left had long declared the conflict a debacle. I'm not quite there yet on Afghanistan, but the way the media's spinning this conflict - and the way the Obama administration is positioning itself for a cut-and-run -- I may well soon be.

I wrote of the stakes in Afghanistan last week, following a New York Times report indicating that the Mumbai terrorists were gearing up for a new round of conflict. See, "
Another Mumbai? Qaeda-Taliban-Lashkar Ready to Strike Again." It turns out that Dan Twining, at Foreign Policy, wrote a report last week as well, "The Stakes in Afghanistan Go Well Beyond Afghanistan":
The problem with the current debate over Afghanistan is that it is too focused on Afghanistan. There is no question that the intrinsic importance of winning wars our country chooses to fight -- to secure objectives that remain as compelling today as they were on September 12, 2001 -- is itself reason for President Obama to put in place a strategy for victory in Afghanistan. But the larger frame has been lost in the din of debate over General McChrystal's leaked assessment, President Obama's intention to ramp up or draw down in Afghanistan, and the legitimacy of the Afghan election. In fact, it is vital for the United States and its allies to recommit to building an Afghan state that can accountably govern its people and defeat the Taliban insurgency -- for reasons that have to do not only with Afghanistan's specific pathologies but with the implications of failure for the wider region and America's place in the international system.
The facts are lost on congressional Democrats and the hardline antiwar left. But as I noted at my report above, a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will invite another attack on America on the scale of September 11. And both security experts and military personnel agree: "This is a moment in history we must not miss." What's missing is a committed and resolute civilian leadership to see to it that America gets the job done.


UPDATE: There's now a thread at
Memeorandum. Jules Crittenden's suggests an "Afghan Tet," which means that the insurgents were in fact decimated, but the press is reporting an American debacle:

Sounds a little like the Taliban would like to pull off an Afghan Tet. Rack up some bad headlines, drive down the poll numbers and panic Congress while the president dithers. You’ll recall that in the original Tet, the Viet Cong and North Vietnam won a Pyrrhic political victory. Though decimated, severely compromed as a fighting force going forward and having failed to hold any ground, they managed to turn American public and political opinion. And won.
Either way, American lives were lost, and the stakes are high, as noted above.

See also, Michelle Malkin, "
The Deadly Siege at Kamdeysh." And Weasel Zippers, "Afghanistan: Eight More Heroes Die In Day-Long Taliban Attack ..."

Added: Pamela at Atlas Shrugs links, "
EIGHT MORE US SOLDIERS DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN, Obama consults Mother Goose for strategy." Pamela questions not the need for the deployment, but the administration's will to fight it:
Obama has no intention of destroying jihad. He just doesn't. The man grew up in a Muslim country, with a Mulsim father and stepfather and does not reject the Islamic view but prefers it. Hence all the outrech to slaughterers.

So why would I want our most precious resource, our finest Americans, slaughtered in a sloppy, ill-conceived, fairy tale war strategy where our girls and boys can't help but end up dead. Under Obama's reckless, feckless anti-commandership, we have experienced the highest number of deaths in Afghanistan month after month since the inception of the defensive military actions in Islam's war on the US.
Interestingly, but I just saw this yesterday from Diana West, " Losing' Our Way to Victory" (via Baldilocks):

This mission demands a new line of battle around the West itself, one supported by a multilevel strategy in which the purpose of military action is not to nation-build in the Islamic world, but to nation-save in the Western one. Secure the borders, for starters, something "war president" George W. Bush should have done but never did. Eliminate the nuclear capabilities of jihadist nations such as Iran, another thing George W. Bush should have done but never did -- Pakistan's, too. Destroy jihadist actors, camps and havens wherever and whenever needed (the strategy in place and never executed by Bill Clinton in the run-up to 9/11). But not by basing, supplying and supporting a military colossus in Islamic, landlocked Central Asia. It is time, as Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (USA ret.) first told me last April, to "let Afghanistan go." It is not in our interests to civilize it.
Both Pamela and Diana want to win, but they don't see much sense in trying to nation-build Afghanistan, and especially under a Democratic administration that's uncommitted.

To repeat, I'm not there yet. I'm with
Dan Twining above who warns of the larger dangers to the international system found in continued AF-PAK insecurity. We're going to fight, sooner or later. (For more on this, see Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home, "McChrystal's Folly.")

Maybe this president will actually come around to his senses and suppport America, and I'm not saying that to be Pollyanna-ish. At the least, Obama wants to be reelected, and I'm confident -- and as I've said many times already -- success mattters, and increasing progress on the war will keep public support high.

The ball is in the president's court. See, "
Success Matters: Public Opinion and the War in Afghanistan."

See also, Common Sense Political Thought, "To Fight or Fold, or Let Fester?"


Mark Harvey said...

Do we win or lose?

My answer:

AmPowerBlog said...

You're linked here at the post, Mark!