The question though is exactly what question to ask.

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Difficult, right?

And so there we go again getting ourselves in a tough-to-break circle and not knowing quite where to start.

That’s partly because the question definitely not to ask after a taking a hit like this is whether or not it is time to pull out of Afghanistan.

This kind of talk often occurs any time there’s tragic news about an Australian casualty as if – surprise! – it was always thought there was a military presence in Afghanistan for fun or that Australia should only be involved if it is convincingly ‘winning’.

Guess what?

Afghanistan is a mess and will probably always be a mess while a government cannot control a country where Taliban are considered by some to be a preferable alternative to rule from Kabul.

So the question should not be ‘Is it time to withdraw Western military forces?’ but more ‘What kind of condition can the country be left in to give Kabul’s government and the West an end game?’

The weekend’s attack underlined two points.

The first is pretty obvious.

Afghanistan is a dangerous place for anyone and everyone.

(That 22 of the dead were members of Seal Team Six, the unit that led the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound, killed by a lucky-to-have-hit RPG shot, also demonstrates how successful that extremely risky operation into Pakistan really was.)

Second, Kabul’s government (and, by proxy, the West) has no control over large sections of the country. The reality is that insurgents rule parts of the country ten years after George W. Bush pushed the button to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC.

“It was not as bad… two years back, but recently it has deteriorated dramatically,” Nafisa Hejran, a member of the Logar Provincial Council told the New York Times.

The newspaper reported that two weeks ago Hejran received a death threat from insurgents telling her to “quit her job”. Most members of the provincial council in Logar no longer attend council meetings because it is too dangerous.

“The Taliban are setting up checkpoints on the main road, searching peoples’ pockets for ID cards and documents that indicate they work either for Afghan government or the international forces,” she said. “If they find something, then they behead the person on the spot to create fear and terror among the people.”

Yes.

Well.

That would have that effect, wouldn’t it?

So the circle continues. Foreign troops supposedly working to make Afghanistan (and the rest of the world) a better place are killed by extremists who will chop the heads off other locals trying to establish some form of functional government.

Wait.

What was the original question again?

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