Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Notes on the great Afghan offensive

David Seaton's News Links
The stated strategic idea behind NATO's Moshtarak offensive in Helmand province, the world's opium capital, is for western forces to clear the area of Taliban, hoist the Afghan flag, occupy it with recently trained Afghan troops and police and install an Afghan government provided by Afghan president Karzai and to move from thence to aid and "reconstruction". This master plan is being touted as a "game changer", something that will win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan population.

There must be something important that I have missed as I seem to recall that until very recently the general opinion was that the Karzai government was hopelessly corrupt, dominated by warlords and drug dealers and that the government's army and police forces were illiterate, underpaid, under trained and also corrupt and inept in the extreme.

It would seem obvious to me that the final outcome of this offensive will be that as soon as the Marines hoist the flag and let the Afghan army and police take control, they will begin to pillage, extort and rape the citizens in their care and take over the heroin trade.

Given their form up till now, is there any reason that this evaluation of the Afghan government, army and police should be considered extreme or overly pessimistic?

Therefore, it seems to me that we are looking at a public relations operation to give the momentary appearance of the allies having taken the initiative in Afghanistan, of some "turning the tide", the appearance of a something winnable, something done with a view to creating a temporary increase in American public morale and support for the war, thus dispelling the impression of American war weariness, something which might be considered useful in the context of upping the pressure on Iran.

Certainly the stated objectives of the offensive don't seem to fit with any Afghan reality that I have heard about in the last thirty years or so. DS

1 comment:

Kurz said...

I guess the only interesting thing to keep track of is whether McCrystal manages to avoid as many civilian deaths as he wishes.They already killed a bunch with a missile strike yesterday. They were selling it like they were being very careful and only using infantry... sigh.