February 18th, 2010
10:25 AM ET

In Kabul, doubts about the Marjah offensive

The biggest coalition offensive in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled is underway in Helmand Province, much of the action focused on the town of Marjah. 

U.S. officials are almost giddy over what they see, so far, as a successful operation. U.S. Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, normally the coolest of cucumbers, Wednesday declared to journalists at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul: "They will be studying this operation for years to come." 

Officials have been doing a lot of talking recently, about the goals of the mission, the tactics they will use, and their ambitious reconstruction and development plans for Marjah and adjacent areas once the fighting stops. They’re hesitant to declare this offensive as a turning point in the nine-year old struggle for Afghanistan, but you can sense a strong desire to do exactly that. 

Having gotten an earful from Holbrooke, it seemed a good idea to find out how Afghans are reacting to the fighting in Helmand. 

I first went to Fawzia Kufi, a strong-minded member of the Afghan Parliament. She is decidedly underwhelmed by all the smoke and fury in far away Marjah. 

"I don’t think this district is strategically very important for bringing peace and security to the whole country," she told me. "The Taliban are very scattered, it’s not an organized war. It’s not going to work with such a massive military operation." 

Out on the streets of Kabul, there is, at best, cautious optimism. Jaweed, a university student, told me he hopes the Taliban are defeated, but worries about what will happen when the fighting stops. "I am not one hundred percent sure about this offensive, because our security forces aren’t up to defending the country properly." 

His concern is that, despite the coalition’s pledge to hold on to Marjah, the Taliban will simply re-emerge when attention turns elsewhere. 

The harshest criticism came from Akmal Dawi of the NGO Afghanistan Rights Monitor. For him, it’s all a big publicity stunt aimed at reassuring Americans that the 30,0000 additional troops being sent to Afghanistan are making a difference. 

"I personally look at this conflict as a major opportunity for the West to demonstrate that they are doing a fantastic job in Afghanistan," he said. "They are defeating the Taliban. They are trying to make it appear as if all the problems of Afghanistan are in Marjah and that if we defeat the Taliban in Marjah the problems of Afghanistan will be solved." 

Despite the arrival of new coalition troops and despite the capture of Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Dawi believes the Taliban are becoming stronger, for political, nor military reasons, "because of the miscalculations of the West, but also because of the endemic corruption in this country, the lack of competence in the leadership of this country."

He describes Marjah as a small dusty town in the middle of nowhere. The heart of Afghanistan’s problems, Dawi asserts, lies in Kabul’s Presidential Palace, not in remote provinces. His priorities: "improve governance, stop corruption, stop the drug trade and make better use of international aid." 

The coalition may be starting small in Marjah, and if all goes according to plan, shift its attention to even more problematic areas. There is talk that an anti-Taliban offensive may be in the works in Konduz Province in the north, and Kandahar in the south.

Watch more from the streets of Kabul

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Chris

    The world will continue view these barbaric acts by Taliban on women as islamic, so long as the "moderate islamists" are reluctant to come out and denounce these acts and declare them un-islamic. Keeping quiet is simply silent acknowledgement that these islamic terrorists are true defenders and executors of what are contained in the koran.

    March 21, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Emovon

    All I know is that,love cannot grow in an atmosphhere of chaos and instability.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. geoffrey wood

    hiya -

    the link that led me here asked 'where is Osama?" - while I do not know exactly, I believe he still lives among men and belongs there. In the interests of Peace, i have willingly offered him the title of Mahdi, tho to be sure, i strongly believe that - if he is alive - he should publicly renounce violence (enuf is enuf) if he really wants that Title from me.

    As If it were mine to give, but on the other hand ...

    peace -

    g.

    March 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel

    It's like a breath of fresh air to know that there are still some people in Holland who have a sense of morality and decency.Now if only that sense would only spill over into other European capitols and cause their leaders to consider doing the right thing and pull out of the Middle East,or at least try to get some kind of peace plan on the table instead of supporting the insidious goal of the United States,Great Britain and France for Middle East domination.

    March 2, 2010 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. frank

    it is apparent that if in 9 years we have not achieved any long term tangible goals in Afghanistan then now doing surges on poppy fields will hardly be of much consequence.
    we need to win the minds of the afghans. Military solutions were missions of the last century what is required now is commitment to nation building not target practice on mountains in far flung places which is being paid by the tax payer dollars for no purposeful goal.

    March 1, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    We are two plus weeks into this operation. No one in our government has stated that this operation will end any eight war. There is no magic bullet to end any war. It is interesting to read arm chair quarterback comments about all the things that are wrong with this operation. Everyone is untitled to post their opinions, but that does not make the opinions or comments right or mean anything in this long process. At this point in the process, the Afghans in Marjah are just being to be able to express their opinions and needs. Please give this operation a chance.

    February 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eberhard wiesheu

    20,000 Talibans are engaged in partisan warfare. It is a hit and run matter.
    They enjoy total support of the population. All of them hate to death the"infidels".

    As in Vietnam the standard regular army procedures/tactics are useless.

    NATO is doing IRAN a great favor by engaging the Talibans. It spares Iran the financial burden of high defense costs.

    Only Iran can solve the Taliban problem. But Iran is facing aggression and does not the slightest incentive to help NATO.

    Iran relies entirely on its strategically deployed smallpox biowaeapons in all capitals of all states hostile to Iran. This list includes both Russia and China in accordance with the ancient wisdom"TRUST IS GOOD BUT PRUDENCE IS EVEN BETTER"

    Iran's superiority in military hardware over the rest of the world has created a new strategic balance. Let us recall that neither the USA nor Russia have been able to invent an effective vaccine against Iran's smallpox bioweapon (with a killing power of 92%) as is universally known.

    The wisest strategy is a rapid exit strategy from all Asian states and the Persian Gulf.
    Miracles happen only in the Bible.

    February 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andre

    This is an experiment that might actually work, if we can hold on to Marjah, many more will follow. until total control, its test of strategy and a test for the Afghan Army, Gov. and the Afghan people. Time will tell, it extremely to early though to call it a victory, but like many others watching the offensive operation I am pleased, however sadden by the recent losses of life

    February 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fahim haider

    There's neither military solution, nor political solution for Afghanistan in the near future.
    The U.S. is hanging around until the Iranian regime crumbles in early 2011, and then
    Iran is going to be the whole Enchilada. We need to make sure the oil supply flows
    through,.
    In Afghanistan,The government of thieves, for the thieves, and by the thieves will
    never be trusted by the people. The Afghan Army will never fight on the side of
    Afghan people.These pepole are corrupt, as wel as dilusional illusionists.Majority of
    Afghan leaders in both side of the conflict have graduated from slaughter house as
    top butchers long time a go.Their way of life is to be hypocrat.

    February 27, 2010 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Leon Bradley

    The military should form a big line covering the whole country and start walking forwards and shoot anything that moves in front of them. By the time they get to the other side of the country there will be no more enemies and they cant hide. I should have been a military strategist it seems simple to me. And then we should keep walking through Iran.

    February 26, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Harjit S Chauhan

    The outcome of the present operation are laudable, no doubt. What are the long term outcome is what really matters. The power behind the presence of Taliban is Pakistan's Army. They are going to come back once the coalition forces leave. Pakistan has fooled the west and has spent the majority of the aid money it got, on its defence forces. You will have to neutralise Pakistan if you want Afghanistan to come up and succeed. The Afghan know it that is why every Afghan just hates Pakistanis.

    February 26, 2010 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. JKF

    The number one big question- HOW WELL DID THE AFGHAN FORCES PERFORM?
    The second big question- who will monitor the effectiveness/efficiency of the Afghan administration, once it is fully set up in Marjan? If the local people need confidence in their own gvmt, let us hope these gvmt agents are closely monitored, and the monitors are very visible, or all the good work will be wasted!
    When will the sourounding areas be secured, and proper lines of communication established, accessible to the local people, and secured? So far it appears to be a good strategy!

    February 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. joseph

    If the Taliban would deliver Bin Laden and guarantee they will not allow Al Queda to have a foothold in Afghanistan again, then this war would be settled. Maybe we should just concentrate on that first. Then we'll see where we go as far as helping them rebuild their country.

    February 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Akber Ali

    Whatever you do, no matter how many thousands of forces you sent to Afghanistan, no matter how much money you pore into Afghanistan, no matter how much media coverage and negative propaganda is made there is no easy solution to Afghanistan. My humble opinion which I have mentioned time and again at different forum is

    1. Fix Pakistan to fix Afghanistan
    2. Stop corruption is Pakistan to stop corruption in Afghanistan
    3. Stop supporting Army rules in Pakistan to stop problems in Afghanistan
    4. Safeguard the boarder between Pakistan and Afghanistan to stop smuggling of drugs into rest of the world
    5. Conduct accountability of filthy rich Pakistani officials (politicians, army people, and civil servants) who have accumulated million of dollars through Afghanistan Drug and Arms smuggling to help stabilize Afghanistan
    6. Change the education system of Pakistan to prepare new blood and change the situation of Pakistan

    At the end let me say that you can't straight the tail of a dog by putting it into a bamboo for 100 years and similarly you can't fix Afghanistan.

    So, please leave them at their will, and secure your own country. Improve intelligence system and target individuals like Israel is doing with Hamas. Don't waste money and don't make false excuses to kill Afghans or Pushtoons. They are innocent poor people who are caught in fire from both side.

    Please please.....

    February 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wojciech Moskal

    From what I saw recently on the news, I do like the idea of putting the well being and safety of Afghanistan people a priority. I recall the general speaking on how much Afghan people have suffered from the Taliban, Russians, and now the conflict with the Al quada. This is good for well being of our soldiers as well. The are actually built to believe that they are helping others, and to fight for a good cause.

    February 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Isha Haider

    The offensive in Marjah, Helmand will work only temporarily, because once the US troops are out Taliban who are hunkered down in Kandahar now will move back into Marjah. This problem is not a territorial issue it is the issue of people’s mind. The question is who are Taliban? Taliban are Afghans who grew up in war not knowing anything else, but the word Jihad, guns, brutality, illiteracy, no education, fueled by an un-Islamic ideology. This generation, so called Taliban grew up in this mind set as a result of years of war, atrocities, neglect of human rights, and lack of basic education the only education they may or may not have is from Madras’s. The only life they know is to fight and kill or be killed on somebody else’s order for money or some promise of a Heaven on the other side. Taliban are not fighting for Afghanistan, they are fighting to take the well of the Afghan’s away from them.

    February 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  17. IRVIN LOUPE

    WE WILL NEVER WIN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN IF WE CONTINUE TO ATTACK THE OPIUM INDUSTRY. THIS IS INCREDIBLY NAIVE, ARROGANT, AND SOCIOLOGICALLY IGNORANT OF U.S. POLICY MAKERS.
    THE MAIN INDUSTRY IN AFGHANISTAN IS THE OPIUM INDUSTRY AND HAS BEEN FOR HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF YEARS. A MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF OPIUM CAN BE TRANSPORTED EASILY BY A MULE BUT A MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF "LEGITIMATE" CROPS WOULD REQUIRE 50 18 WHEELERS AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE SUCH AS ROADS, GAS STATIONS, REPAIR AND PARTS SHOPS,ETC.
    CORRUPTION WILL CONTINUE IN AFGHANISTAN IF WE CONTINUE TO TAKE THIS NAIVE APPROACH AND WE WILL NEVER WIN. ALCOHOL PROHIBITION FAILIED IN THE U.S. AND ALSO THE CURRENT MARIJUANA PROHIBITION IS FAILING.
    GO AFTER THE TALIBAN, AL QUIDA, AND FIND BIN LADEN AND IMPLIMENT "DON'T ASK,DON'T TELL AS FAR AS OPIUM IS CONSIDERED.
    I AM SO TIRED OF HEARING THAT "THE TALIBAN ARE IN THE OPIUM BUSINESS TO FUND THE INSURGENCY." THEY ARE ONLY IN THIS BUSINESS TO SURVIVE AND THE TALIBAN ONLY EXIST TO PROTECT THIS INDUSTRY. THESE PEOPLE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT 9/11 AND WITH 90% ILLITERACY AND NO ACCESS TO ANY COMMUNICATION KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE U.S.
    DECRIMINALIZING THE OPIUM INDUSTRY WILL REMOVE THE CRIMINAL ELEMENT, THE TALIBAN WOULD DISAPPEAR, AND WE COULD WIN THESE PEOPLE OVER TO FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY.

    February 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  18. D.

    I am just so grateful for the young people over there who are doing this difficult job. I hope there is some way they can know the depth of our gratitude.

    February 25, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  19. Brian from Chicago

    Let's remember that the real enemy is al-Qaida, not the Taliban. It's hard to tell the diffference because (1) they were joined at the hip when this started and (2) they both operate out of Pakistan today.

    Although there isn't a "military solution" to dealing with the Taliban problem, there is still an important military objective: reduce their effectiveness in Afghanistan. No doubt there will be many dusty towns to clear and hold as US and coalition troops gradually reinforce the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The value lies in quantity and relative location to the border.

    Lately, Pakistan has demonstrated some remarkable achievements in arresting not one, not two, not three, but four, yes four major Taliban figures over the past month. I am cautiously optmistic that the Taliban is running out of places to hide, and a little curious to know if this kind of progress could have been made any earlier. But not so much to accuse them of dragging their feet. To do so would show ignorance of what it takes to infiltrate an organization and collect meaningful intel.

    But as far as defeating the Taliban, that's just the kind of Western thinking that's gotten us nowhere lately. So let it go. Instead it would be much better to settle with the Taliban and allow them to re-integrate them into Afghan and Pakistani society, provided that their intentions are sincere.

    How do you test for that sincerety? It's simple. Have them help us find al-Qaida's senior leadership and bring them to justice. Once that's done, the US will be only too happy to leave. I'm serious! As far as who runs Afghanistan, how they do it, or how opium plays its part, it will all stop making headlines. Call me cynical, but there won't be anything left to distinguish this poor country from a hundred others in the same state. Seriously, the Taliban could be back in charge within a year, and no one will do anything about it. Watch.

    But for what it's worth, the Taliban have been slow to approach the bargaining table. While it seemed like they could wear down or outlast the US and coalition forces, that strategy may have appeared to be sound. The reason why our military forces are crooning, perhaps prematurely, is to serve notice to the Taliban's leadership: you won't get a better deal tomorrow.

    Finally, I also noticed a couple of posts favoring legalizing the drug trade. To those of you who have, pease remember to share your thoughts here when you find your daughter shooting up. We'd all love to hear about it.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  20. hitman47

    @Ajaz, If there is no existing ROE within the NATO soldiers, Taliban group will be crushed just in 2 days. Got that! ROE is the biggest problem that the soldiers were facing right now, they cannot shot unless they were fired first, they cannot shoot if there are civilians which were being used by the taliban, what the heck!

    February 23, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  21. anrd

    Ah the drug trade! The Taliban almostcrushed it in Afghanistan. Now Karzai and his cronies, the CIA, Taliban, AQ, and ISI all profit from it. And this little town of 50,000 in the middle of BFE is the HUB? PULEEZE! This gig is about setting up a piece that the USpublic will swallow to justify throwing billions more into the perpetual war on a n extreme ideology held by only a few thousand people. Oh please don't throw me in the briar patch! Think of the billions we could use for healthcare at home...or just piss away...that are going into the military-industialists' pockets to produce more sophisticate weapons to use on these pathetic few. For stunners, divide the amout spent on the war by the number of ENEMY killed to see the futility and ridiculous cost of this high tech masturbatiuon! We should have paid each Taliban member 1 billion dollars to shill and we'd bhave saved TRILLIONS! (not to mention thousands of innocent lives and the lives of 1,000 US soldiers who died in A-stan).

    February 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Guest123

    "They will be studying this operation for years to come."

    Be careful what you wish for, Ambassador.

    February 23, 2010 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  23. Mike

    If the civilian population turns against the NATO troops, then we can stop worrying about collateral damage and civilian deaths. We can use our B-52's to carpet bomb all of them into the mountains where they can freeze and starve to death. These A-holes harbored AlQaeda and were unwilling to give them up. They targeted and killed US civilians on 9/11. WE OWE THEM NO COURTESY!

    February 22, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  24. John Herling

    In the absence of a strong and honest central Afghan government, the only realistic hope of defeating the Taliban is winning the support of the tribes who hold the real balance of power. The U.S.'s attempts to achieve a military solution will only alienate the people of Afghanistan, who have a history of resenting, if not actually fighting, foreign troops.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Adam

    I guess Dawi doesn't realize that Marjah is the heart of the opium trade. Also, I haven't heard or seen anyone say that after Marjah all of Afghanistan's problems will be gone.

    February 22, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  26. Karajak

    Losses and tough are understatements.
    Nato and Us Forces in Afga are going to pay heavily if they stay unless they decide to cut and run now.
    Put yourself in the head of the insurgents. When the Russians who were invited there by a legitimate government the West did everything to get 16 and a half thousand Russians killed and both the former and the latter removed. That was our weapons and our misdeeds in an inferior era of warfare. Today the insurgents are quite sophisticated and are more motivated. Remember Bin Laden is better than Obama for them whatever the West say. Karzai and co. are just little parasites bent on making as much of the present situation with foreign money till he retires very rich in a Western country when the Talibs will eventually be in charge again. He knows that and cannot care less. They know that and are just waiting. Money cannot buy the insurgents forever. They will take any amount and still will turn against the donors when time comes. Just question of Time.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  27. A. Smith, Oregon

    By and large the main victims of the Taliban ruling over Afghanistan were the Afghanistan Muslim women. America and the Allied troops have done absolutely nothing to change that, even after 8 years America is not educating the Muslim women, training them in self-defense nor supplying them with small arms for self-protection. Their horrific plight and existence is utterly unchanged. And when the Taliban returns shortly after America and the Allied troops pull out of Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Muslim women will once again be brutally treated and tortured routinely. The only change will be the CIA converted Afghanistan's US built farming areas in Afghanistan into the world's largest Opium producer in the world. What a terrible legacy and waste of American and Allied and Afghanistan Civilian lives.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  28. dave

    Pity all of this money that has been wasted. One wonders what could have been done to infulence Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, and what relations with the muslim world would be if half of it had been spent on murtual delvelopment. Clearly tribalism and religious divide will reign, the taliban will eventually bring back 15th century government, and violence and intimidation will rule. No Japan or Gernany will come out of this, only autoritarian theocratic dictatorships.

    February 21, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Dave

    Just as in Vietnam, we have little ability to determine if the local people who claim to be allies to the Nato troops in the daytime are sabotaging Nato troops at night. Just as in Vietnam, Nato forces are seen as propping up a local government that is seen as corrupt and allowed by Nato troops to stay corrupt. Just as in Vietnam we seem to be unwilling to prevent Nato's enemy from being resupplied with arms to kill Nato troops.Just as in Vietnam we (Nato forces) are trying to fight an enemy that is able to blend in to the local terrain and disappear, only to reappear in a different locale. Just as in Vietnam we (Nato troops ) are unwelcomed by a majority of the local residents. Instead of steadily increasing our (Nato) troop strength in Afghanistan, we should take the opportunity that we had in Vietnam in 1964-have our (Nato) troops leave Afghanistan and come home.

    February 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Daniel

    I guess President Obama is on cloud 9 by now after hearing all that bravado about the success of the recent operation at Marjah.I find it quite sickening to know how giddy the military and political leaders in this country must be!Espcially while the people in southern Afghanistan are having loved ones slaughterd and their property desroyed.Do you think for one minute the pigs in Washington give a damn?I don't think so!

    February 21, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  31. Theo van der Smeede

    Fall of Dutch Government bad sign for Obama’s credibility?

    The left wing parties in The Netherlands were in blind admiration for President Obama at the start of his term. The Dutch Labor Party suddenly seems to show disrespect for their “Example Politician, President Obama” by turning around 180º. It’s not completely clear yet but they seem to have shifted their gears by moving from an “all options open” to a dogmatic “we leave Afghanistan” in a few weeks. It’s a shame for our soldiers and the Dutch population that some politicians seem to be so unreliable, so unfaithful to their big examples (President Obama) that they even jeopardize a smooth hand-over of responsibilities in Afghanistan for their own political elections gain. I also see this as a sign for President Obama’s declining credibility around the World.

    February 20, 2010 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  32. Ajaz

    A coalition of a superpower and its 43 friendly supporters trying for the last 9 years to fight and win against a rag tag group of militants fighting with arms that are no match for the coalition arms and ammunitions.Now after so many years of fighting telling the whole world with a bloody nose that they are willing to accomodate taaliban.This is hilarious.
    US has destroyed its image of a superpower by getting itself into a mess called Afghanistan even though it knew the fate of the erstwhile USSR.
    It is true that the mighty arrogant powers never learn their lesson till they lick the dust.Their inflated ego is their undoing.Sad that the days of US as superpower seem over now.US looks more like a sinking titanic now.

    February 20, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  33. hmmmmm!

    But But.....Opium Poppy = Marjah.
    No Opium for Taliban = Less Guns for hire.
    Less Guns for hire = Weak Taliban.

    All those who think this US plan is no good. Have you guys no foresight....
    Do you think that human beings would rather choose danger and fight a lethal and determined US military or have their hood developed by the US pretty much for free. Majority of the people do not want the Taliban there. If they develop the place like they have promised they would, then why not give them a chance. At the same time a deal with the Pakistani Gov. on how much influence it would wield in Afghanistan in exchange for the Leaders of the Quetta Shura council while this operation is taking place would signal to the Taliban that being a good Taliban is better than being friends with AL Q! and shooting at US or NATO troops. The heat is on the Taliban from all angles. The big players of the insurgency are being hit hard and from every angle. Their leaders are being captured in Pakistan and this huge offensive is going to hurt them financially because they wouldn't have the money from Opium poppies any more.

    This truly might be a new way that counter insurgency would be handled in the future.

    D.

    London

    February 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  34. none

    here is this, the Taliban is like a drug-addicted individual it needs to be dealt with as the same with its addictions and unstable behaviors, it will be difficult to recover from its insecurities though not impossible for many almost impossible for some possibly will fall back into past behavior depending on the situations. study addiction and compare to the Taliban.

    an addiction is an scape from a fear what ever that might be...what? is the Taliban's fear...real or unreal...guilt's,mistakes? fear from unsafety, fear of poverty, fear of condemnation by god, fear of abuse, fear of its past history of abandonment. fears create anger and violence is the evidence of fears been present. what is/are the Taliban's greatest fears??????

    """""""fears create wars"""""insecurities multiply violence.

    February 19, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Allie

    President Obama: I thought it was "those other guys", not the Taliban, who committed 9/11.

    February 19, 2010 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  36. Sal Palma

    As it pertains to Afghanistan the War on Drugs is moot. Those regions have been growing poppies for centuries.
    Walking in and saying to a poppy grower, you have to stop planting is equivalent to saying , go out to your field and shoot yourself and your family.
    Without providing a well thought out substitute you're simply wasting time. You are better of contracting to buy his entire crop at an agreed up price and then destroying the stuff.
    You also need to provide some security in the region to ensure that after you leave with the harvest, the farmers aren't extorted into paying protection money.

    February 19, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  37. Wodan Germania

    A polital solution is the best solution offering a lasting peace.

    February 19, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  38. Wodan Germania

    The Marjah offensive appears at the surface a win for the coalition troops, that is because the Taliban does not fight conventional battles, The Taliban diappeared into thin air when the offensive started but.....they will be back somewhere sometime......

    February 19, 2010 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
  39. contraryjim

    As long as the US continues it's mis-guided war on drugs, there will be a drug problem. This so called war on drugs had provided a cash crop for Afgan farmers.

    February 18, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Sal Palma

    I honestly don't know if there is one single solution to Afghanistan. Throughout its history the Afghani people have been invaded without ever being conquered. The most successful attempt came from Alexander the Great, who married an Afghan woman but only held a small portion of the country for a short period of time.
    The Rand Institute produced some interesting studies that can be summarized by saying that tribal loyalties are as thick as blood and possibly as insurmountable. I think they're spot on.
    Technology has allowed us to mitigate, to some extent, the country's geography but it's unlikely that we will conquer its centuries old allegiances.
    Afghanistan’s problems are structural. First, the people need to know that there is room for everyone and a place for everyone. I think the strategy should be to create politically autonomous regions under a small central government whose charter is to provide for the common defense and promote economic development.

    February 18, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Steve, Canada

    It has long been my conviction that the world governments NEED the drug trade to flourish. Therefore, I for one, rebut the idea of the drug problem worldwide being tackled by local and international law enforcement. Think of the hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of DEA local, regional, federal and International agents/officers who would be out of work. In balanced society, as they call it, there needs to be a certain percentage of enforcement bodies to X number of citizens. Most citizens are docile, and law abiding through moral learning early in life. Hence, for 75%, or better of the population, NO law enforcement is required. Take the drug trade from the equation, and you are left with an over abundant number of law enforcement bodies, and no-one to use them on. In Afghanistan, corruption is only more prevelent that other countries, due to it being on the world media map. Corruption is well know in the western world through scandals, and such, and it will definitely not go away, because this planet will always continue put out its share of dishonest people. The opinions of Fawzi Kufi, and Amjal Dawi will fall upon deaf ears, because to clean THAT phenominon fron Afghanistan, means cleaning some of our own kitchens, as well, which begins with accountability. Thanks for reading my opinion.

    February 18, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Ryan

    Yeah, PatUSA but its not that simple. Towns like Marjah are where it starts. You can't just go in and say lets stop the drug trade. Their plan seems to be to systematically take control of the towns through military force and hold them and start to help the people rebuild and provide security. Take the town, secure it and leave troops there and then move to the next and so on and so forth. As the people start to feel that security, they'll be more willing to help the troops and then as it progresses you'll see more people stepping up. They'll start out by improving their own lives by building things for their towns and as that increases they'll start to improve their own government. If they want Karzi gone then they can do it through their own votes but they can't do that until everyone feels secure enough to make a vote. Until people step up, its easy for the government to be corrupt and people won't step up until they're out from under the heel of the Taliban.

    Like him or not (and right or wrong) Karzai was re-elected. The US can't just go in and throw him out even if that might be best for the country b/c its not good for the democratic process. It undermines the process and it leads credance to the fears of some that the government is just a patsy to the US. If they want Karzai gone then they need to step up and get rid of him themselves and they won't step up until they feel they're safe from the Taliban so that's where it starts. Provide security to the higher population areas and build from there so they're going to take the higher population areas and leave troops there and build from there.

    Marjah isn't the end but its a good beginning.

    February 18, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  43. Kolawole Ajao

    Ajmal Dawi's point is quite analytical:his words alone have provided the clue into how the nine-year-old unfruitful war against terrorism in Afghanistan and any terrorists' den on earth can be won in a jiffy!

    February 18, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  44. Kolawole Ajao

    The Allied Forces should take a shrewd look into Ajmal Dawi's critique.This guy has got some points,talking from the point of view of someone who knows Afghanistan inside-out.

    February 18, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  45. PatUSA

    Ajmal Dawi summed up the problems in Afganistan better than all the politicians, ambassadors and military experts: The heart of Afghanistan’s problems, Dawi asserts, lies in Kabul’s Presidential Palace, not in remote provinces. His priorities: "improve governance, stop corruption, stop the drug trade and make better use of international aid."

    Did you hear that President Obama?

    February 18, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |