May 6th, 2010
12:19 PM ET

Losing hearts and minds in Marjah?

A U.S. Senate hearing on Thursday offered a grim assessment of the state of Marjah, almost three months after the major NATO offensive Operation Moshtarak began in the southern region.

Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Marjah does not appear to be a turning point in the overall mission in Afghanistan.

"A recent survey conducted by the International Council on Security and Development showed that a vast majority of villagers felt negatively about foreign troops and that more young Afghans had joined the Taliban over the last year," he said at the hearing. "Worse still were the reasons they had signed up with the Taliban: they said they joined because they had no jobs, because they had no money to get married or buy land, because they had no other future. In short, the coalition and their own government have not provided promising alternatives."

Kerry said that progress had been made - U.S. and coalition forces have helped Afghans clean up schools and markets and build bridges as well as making sure a local Afghan government is in place in Marjah for the first time in years.

But unless these changes are embraced by the local Afghans, the results won't be enough. "The ultimate measure of our success will be whether we can win the trust of the Afghan people and transfer security and governance to them. Our challenge was never only to clear territory, but to hold, build, and transfer that territory back to our Afghan partners."

The ICOS report is based on interviews in March with more than 400 Afghan men from Marjah, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar.

Of those interviewed, 95 percent believe more young Afghans have joined the Taliban in the last year. More than three-quarters say they were often or always angry and 45 percent of those said that anger stemmed from the NATO presence, civilian casualties and night raids.

Read the ICOS report | Read Kerry's full statement

soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Snappy21

    People please just buy electric cars, problem solved.

    USMC

    May 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Snappy21

    People just buy electric cras, problem solved.

    USMC

    May 8, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Afghan guy

    I don't know how you can win the hearts of those you have pinned down adn occupied with the heaviest weapons on earth? Especially not an Afghan. Afghans are known for not serving the occupier. Alexander, Pesians, Indians, Brits, Soviets, now the Nato... all learned it the hard way.

    May 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. semperfi

    i just want my marine home :c(

    May 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Canadajeff

    sfcbran and sto...ONLY because i've always been taught (through 3 years of college and 8 years of university) to never resort to name calling as it degrades the debate, but here goes: You're both idiots. Nah, that doesn't make it more fun.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Canadajeff

    fairly irrelevant country? Canada holds 1/4 of the worlds fresh water, a huge portion of the undeveloped landmass of the planet, huge reserves of oil, both in our oil sands and under our northern most waters, huge amounts of gold and diamonds in our earth...that doesn't sound particularly irrelevant to me....we'll see how important fresh water is in the near future.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SFCBryan

    Well put, Sto.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sto

    Alright, Im sorry, I'm back, I couldnt help myself. this is directed toward CanadaJeff (who somehow considers Marine MSGT comment to be why people hate Americans...Canada Jeff, you are an Idiot, with no clear understanding of why he would be angry with us. If you lost friends for a cause, and then people who KNOW NOTHING of the cause decided to just quit...would you be angry? CERTAINLY. so honestly, shut up dude, you come off as a bit of a moron.

    Iam: you need to go do some reading on fundamentalist sunni islam, also known as takirism. Once you understand it, you will understand why people do what they do, and you will understand that us bombing them, really doesnt affect their belief system at all...it already in place, they have always hated us. READ about it. Also, canada jeff, if this is an American war, where canadians are somehow dying for us..??? do you not understand that canada is a target of terrorists as well. The only reason you have not been hit harder is because you are a fairly irrelevant country. But lets face it...the terrorists hate you too...and always will.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SFCBryan

    Nope, can't explain that, Iam. I can't explain how people go shoot up post offices or murder their whole family then commit suicide, or OD on drugs or lie and cheat either.

    The only thing I can think of is that some people just aren't wired the same. The fact that we have a million Pakistanis in our country (not sure if it's that many but certianly quite a few), and only one has done something like this means, to me anyway, that it's an isolated incident and chances are just about anything can set people off.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SFCBryan

    You send your soldiers there because it was a major base for terrorists and we have to leave it in a state where it won't become one again.

    And how are we "spreading" anything. The Iraqi and Afghan people voted for the types of governments they have now. They both could have all voted for theocracies, but they didn't.

    Like I said, though, we do what's in our interests... just like your government is supposed to do for you. Yet, you're too hypocritical to see that. You were told Americans are bad, so you believe it. You can't have your own opinion because you are isolated from the world in your safe little shell.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lam

    Thank You SFCBryan. That does seem like a reasonable explanation for the side of the question about young men joining the Taliban who are poor. Now can you explain why Americans who are young male muslims leave America when they have what their fellow muslims in Afghanastan/Pakistan do not have – and still join the Taliban and attempt to blow up the America who made it possible for them to have money, jobs, homes, wife and children?

    May 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Canadajeff

    sfcbryan...so that means that everyone has to be beholden to the wishes and belief system of the united states? It certainly appears that way when you attack other countries to spread your belief system...and if you read a bit below your comment (marine msgt's comment), THAT is EXACTLY why people from other countries hold the united states in such high esteem...as far as serving our own, Afghanistan is certainly not our own...but yet we send our kids there to die for the united states.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. doug

    Okay lou from michigan, how should we fight terrorism?

    May 6, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sto

    MARINE MSGT just put things in perspective for me. Thankyou for your service Sgt. I am getting out of here now.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SFCBryan

    This isn't 1967 "nam, Lou.

    This is a totally different situation. I understand how some people color something based on their experiences but really, the situations couldn't more unalike.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  16. lou/michigan

    in '67 i was putting kids back together as a navy corpsman. 'nam was pointless, and the way we're going about fighting terrorism is pointless too. i'm not against the mission, just how stupidly its being handled.

    May 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  17. MARINE MSGT

    You people are all a bunch of snobs who write on these blogs because you dont have enough balls to pick up a weapon and help the cause over there. all you do is run your mouth under the protection that i and other Marines provide for you. you make me sick. your comments make no sense you have no idea what your talking about over there. you need to shut up if you want send me your address and i shut your mouth for good. i have lost alot of brothers and im sick or retards like you scewing everything up SHUT UP GET A LIFE

    May 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  18. SFCBryan

    Oh, I sure can answer that.

    #1, because there are people like you in the world who know very little of what's going on around them. They need to be told and they never question.

    #2. Because the US serves it's own interests. As much as Canadian, or the French, or the Russian government serves their own. Except that we've been protecting you guys for so long, you feel that we are beholden to your wishes and belief systems. If we go somewhere and do something then it's for oil, or imperialism, or because of a "lie". When we don't go somewhere, then it's because we don't care, we're heartless, we're arrogant.

    It's a no win situation with you hypocrits.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  19. sto

    CanadaJeff. :

    Recent surveys show that the opinion of Americans internationally is on the rise. However, in Canada it remains quite low. I'll leave you to speculate on the why's of that one. In my experience however, anyone who really dislikes any country as a whole based on the actions of a few, is usually extremely uneducated, or has a little education (even worse), and is misguided in their beliefs. I usually find that most of those individuals are surprised when they meet me, to find that I am not the horrible American their news, and countrymen have told them about. And are further shocked when I tell them that MOST americans are genuinely nice people...JUST LIKE MOST PEOPLE ANYWHERE!!!!! WE ARE ALL THE SAME. Wasting your time disliking an entire country based on what YOU believe to be the truth is simply an exercise in ignorance/ arogance.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  20. F. Thomas Cain

    We will never be successful in Afghanistan. At some point we wil declare mission accomplished and pull out. As soon as we do it will revert back to the 7th century way of life led by ethnic warlords. We never learn from history or our own mistakes. We continue to be arrogant enough to think we can impose our way of life on primitive cultures and Theocratic societies incapable of living under Democracy. Our President should say to the peoples of the world that we are going to heal the wounds and needs of our own country, stop meddling in the foregn affairs of other nations unless it is a direct threat to our national security, and when we find a nation to be an imminent threat, we will annihialate it from 50,000 feet. That way we would once again gain the respect and fear of those nations that might do us harm, and not be viewed by some as Imperialistic !

    May 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  21. SM

    Isolation is the final stage of collapse for every great civilization that has in human history, Bri Guy. You identify problems (as any critic easily can) while merely providing worse alternatives.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Jay

    jt- Yes it does seem fair to me. If you are posting in Arabic, then they most likely have no way of knowing whether or not you are posting some sort of coded, radical message. I doubt that there is an interpreter on staff in every office at CNN.com. I see that you do speak English, so why don't you just go with that?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Canadajeff

    sto...don't bother to answer, SFCBryan answered for you....

    May 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Canadajeff

    sto...so why do so many people dislike americans?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  25. SFCBryan

    Except canadajeff, we were successful using it in Iraq, are being successful in Afghanistan, and would most likely be successful in the future.

    You, sir, believe one of the paradoxes spelled out in that manual.

    "The more protected you are, the less safe you are."

    Meaning, that while you're cooped up in your safe little world and not venturing out, the enemy will be building it's capacities all around you. By leaving your protected area (in the manual it means our bases), you disrupt your enemies, show the people that you are willing to protect them, and thwart the enemies plans.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  26. sto

    IOU/ MICHIGAN.

    I know that I would like to go there. I would like to see for myself and contribute to the effort there, and make my own decisions. My children? I can't imagine that ANYONE would want their children to enter a VERY dangerous situation like it is in Afghanistan. And yet, they go everyday.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  27. sto

    yes, yes, Canadajeff. I know all about the maple leaf being worn on backpacks, I have done a substantial amount of traveling and have never shied away from being an american...I have found that if you are nice to others, they will be nice to you in return. There is a saying that goes something like "i dont know the recipe for success, but I know the recipe for failure: trying to please everyone" Iraq was a HUGE mistake, perhaps the largest military blunder in history, and certainly Chaney and Bush should be thrown in jail for litterally lying to Americans and the world about that war. But, a bad leader and some bad decisions does not a bad country make. Germany is a fine country filled with wonderful people, they are also the home of the worst mass murderer in history.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  28. SFCBryan

    #1, what Sen. Kerry and his committee of morons said is completely untrue, just like most of the assumptions made in the comments here.

    Normal Afghan's do not join the Taliban out of love for their ideology or hate for the US and our allies. They join because they are forced to. Threats to their families and villages if they don't join is the main reason they join.

    The reason why they don't have jobs is the same reason why the people of Kosovo didn't have jobs while I was there, or the Iraqis, or the Bosnians.

    They expect to be given a job. The communist government and the Taliban government following that employed everyone. "You work here, for this much, for this long." If there wasn't work, they would be paid a monthly stipend (while in Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq this was universal, in Afghanistan it really only applied to people in built up areas like Marjeh.).

    Then they gain freedom, they can choose when and where to work. They can decide if the pay is good enough for the effort or find a better job if they don't. They can start their own business now if they want to.

    Iraq was the quickest of the four countries mentioned because Saddam did allow a small measure of private enterprise.

    Though, I suggest you get used to what I described above. In another 20 or so years we'll be in the same boat if we keep heading in the same direction.

    One last thing. EVERY one of our bases are in those countries by invitation, at any time those governments can tell us to leave or cancel the lease. Don't make it sound like there's anything more to it than that... it just makes you look stupid.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  29. lou/michigan

    sto-the come to jesus question is would you want one of your kids to go there. your answer?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Canadajeff

    I can't imagine that many people will be using that "manual" as a reference, in the future, on how to counter an insurgency.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  31. sto

    iou/michigan:

    The minutemen were certainly NOT counterinsurgents, they were InSURGENTS. Along with the mujahideen. Though there have been MANY instances of counterinsurgency in the past...NEVER has there been anything to compare with Iraq or Afghanistan. Both of which are nationbuilding counterinsurgency strategies, whihc litterally, to the best of my knowledge, has not been conducted iin the way we are doing it ...ever. Certainly not in a century or more that I can think of. We are writing the manual on this stuff right now.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Phred Felps

    Could Shahzad's anger have anything to do with us raining Hellfire missiles down on his relatives in Pakistan?

    Nah.....

    May 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Canadajeff

    sto....Stop attacking other countries under false-pretenses? That would be a good start. There's a reason why when we travel abroad, we wear our Maple Leafs on our clothing...we don't want to be confused with americans.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  34. sto

    Cabadajeff....All we do is take responsibility. What do you call the body bags filled with U.S. troops who stood up to defend what we believe are not only our national interests, but the interests of our allies as well. You know, a world without conflict sounds great, but in reality, it will never be achieved. Sunni takfiris cannot be dealt with on reasoned with, they are so strict in their beliefs that to some, even tooth brushes are considered evil excesses of the unbelievers. It's not like we can close our eyes and make this stuff go away. What do you suggest we do.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  35. lou/michigan

    sto-weren't the minutemen counterinsurgents? or, how about the cong (when the french were there too)? and, then there's the mujahadeen. not in history books? look again.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  36. sto

    it's counterinsurgency guys, it takes time, this has never really been done before....so it's not in any history books.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Canadajeff

    sto....we can argue as much as we want, but you just need to look at how the rest of the world views the united states....you're talking about everyone ELSE taking responsibility, but american's aren't willing to take responsibility for their own actions....YOU keep saying "look in the mirror...but we all need to look in mirror and take responsibility for our own actions...and that includes the united states. Someone recently said that Saddam Hussein had killed 53 of his direct relatives...and that maybe, just maybe there comes a time when he should have asked himself "maybe it's me?...maybe I'M the bad guy here?"

    May 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  38. lou/michigan

    edwin- our "leaders" can't figure out our economy.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  39. edwin

    So... they join the Taliban because of the bad economy. Solutions, anyone?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  40. lou/michigan

    the dipsticks in DC will eventually come around to realizing what the average 5th grader can figure out about this lost cause, but we'll fill more body bags, and spend billions more before that happens. hey, congress, there's these wonderful things called history books. why not try reading one?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  41. sto

    Reaping what we sow eh? Yes, yes, we are evil, and imperialistic, we are the problem, canada is a collective saint, no one else seems to use oil, or resources, or care about the fact that w provide the stability and security of almost the entire western world, both economically, and militarily. But hey, WE are the problem, WE are the only ones to blame...that must be right, NEVER look in the mirror, ALWAYS blame others. your parents taught you right.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Canadajeff

    the united states is reaping what they sow...

    May 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  43. IRVIN LOUPE

    FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME I HAVE WRITTEN THIS BUT NOBODY GETS IT. WE WILL NEVER WIN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN AS LONG AS WE DESTROY AND STOP THEIR ONLY WAY TO MAKE A LIVING BY ELIMINATING THE POPPY PRODUCTION AND OPIUM TRADE. IN THE REAL WORLD THAT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN. FEDERAL POLICY FANTASY LAND CONTINUES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Joe

    Actually clr you should got to the bases and ask the locals and well as the government. if the money is worth the risk associated with having our bases there and do some research but I have a feeling you aren't looking for the truth so would stop at first person to back up you opinion. I guess America is just hated for our Freedom? Also you really need to study history and face some facts about how ignorant (willfully?) you sound when you make such statements. If you don't want to admit that we have turned into a imperiallistic country, then thats fine, but don't correct others that are simply applying the same term that has been applied to past Empire building nations, just because you carry such a negative stigma with the term. Unlike England we don't colonize the nations we "monitor". We are like Rome where we open a military base to insure our "interests" are protected. Sometimes that fine with the population sometimes its not. But to think we are only in places that want us there is extremely naive.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • US infidal

      Well said and good point. We are like the roman empire, it seems there are those who think everyone should believe and live the way our government thinks is best.. And history has a way of repeating itself when the society starts believing the are the best, the strongest, and respected.

      May 25, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  45. Bri Guy

    What Okinawa said.. and in addition, like I said our intentions are well and I do think we are the good guys, but it is the perception. Clearly the Afghans don't want us there. There are some cases where military bases are wanted and warranted. But Germany? WWII was a long time ago. They have a good economy and a good military. There is no reason to have such enormous bases in Germany anymore. South Korea? They have one of the best and economies and militaries in all of Asia. They know we are in the Pacific if they really do need our help with NK, but lets be real here, South Korea could squash NK easily without our help. And, in fact, South Korea has a much more robust economy than we do right now!

    May 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Have you seen Okinawa?

    CLR:

    That is an incredibly simplistic and, quite frankly, ill-informed statement about U.S. military presence in foreign countries.

    First, it assumes that the foreign leaders who "invite" U.S. involvement are legitimate representatives of the interests of their people. But for many countries (see, Kyrgyzstan), that doesn't really hold true. As such, the government might welcome the U.S. with open arms, while the citizens of the country despise us.

    Second, it assumes that the local population that directly benefits from the dollars spent by U.S. servicemen and servicewomen are broadly enjoyed by the population. But that's like saying that a resident of Vermont enjoys a direct financial benefit from Fort Monmouth.

    I'm not apologizing for U.S. foreign policy–my safety at home is underwritten by it. But you oversimplify extremely complex relationships. In my opinion, it is worldviews such as yours that lead to policy decisions like the Iraq war.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Yeahimright

    No way to correct this problem with force, The reality is that the rich are very content to leave the poor, powerless and subserviant.This holds true not only there, but also here. They are only willing to help if there is something in it for them. Broad socialization isn't the answer either as it doesn't address the roots of the problem in general. There is no way to set up a governing body in these areas without having it not only corrupted by negative religious overtones but also just by the vices that men harbor. To actually make any progress in Muslim world requires someone that represents Islam for Muslims and Muslims for Islam. If they can relate too and believe in something, and actually see that it benign and for their good. Only then will they conform. Until then keep wasting lives,money,and the future of this world.

    May 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  48. jt

    cnn blocks me from their main site for speaking arabic in calligraphy... does that seem fair to you?

    May 6, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  49. clr

    to bri guy – yeah.. right – like we go out and force these countries to allow our bases within their borders like some imperialistic force? Really? We have bases in contries in which that country has asked us in. We may money to their economy to be there. We are often their only military protection, so they want us there. Stop being such a sheeple. Go visit a base overseas and talk to the local economy relying on the base. We get intel – they get income.

    May 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • US infidal

      Our government doesn't even protect our boarders and they have allowed these terrorist into our country. Why do we need to make war on the middle-east and why should a US military present be there anyway. The US government basically allowed 9/11 to happen because they thought we would never be attacked. Really who would attack a world power? What egos

      May 25, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  50. lam

    Here in America we have a young male muslim man, with an education, a job, a home, a wife and children who decides to become a terrorst in America by planting a bomb in Times Square. In Marjah there are young male muslim men with little education, no job, no money, no home of their own, with no wife or children, who join the Taliban to Kill Americans. Is there ANY way for America to correct this problem?

    May 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • OneWorld

      Yes, finish this war... help protect and develop Afghan people and fight off Taliban. America has record of leaving unfinished war in Afghanistan...thus people there do not dare to turn their backs on Taliban...don't have much choice in a country which is arid and war-torn. US administrations should not support Israel unreasonably as well. That way America will be loved and respected by the world as a great leader. My (Buddhist) prayers for all those who are/were fighting this war with righteous mind ....

      May 31, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yafah1

      We will have protection when it's too late ! – it takes a leader with honor and who has America's best interest at heart and admit our enemies inside the US in order to be protected !!!
      How can a Muslim fight against Muslims? it could cost him his life! Instead a slow death is easier – "we" drown America .... in every way shape and form ... people have no more voice in this matter – laws are on paper but not reinforced for
      leaders !!!! where are we heading? if not stopped - to disaster ! Especially if America turns her back to Israel - we will see LOTS of natural disasters !

      June 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Bri Guy

    Thanks Obomber for continuing our imperialistic agenda and effectively not changing any aspect of our foreign policy from the Bush admin. I still see Obama campaign stickers next to the Federal Budget pie chart stickers emphasizing our pentagon budget being such a huge slice of the pie. Obomber and admin have only INCREASED that slice of the pie since taking office. In fact, just a few weeks ago they inflated our "war" budget by another $33 billion dollars, but you don't see that on CNN do you?

    May 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • US infidal

      You speak as if our President has absolute power. And don't forget Secretary of State who seems to want to put us into another W.W.
      I would never believe what a politician says to get elected, since 1963 all I have heard from their mouths is what people want to hear and a munch BS promises. They are just puppets.

      May 25, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
      • Yafah1

        The Presidents acts as if he had all power – the people have little to day – or the truth would have been exposed and
        the law reinforced – He wants everything under his command – how do you call that? look who is surrounding him ???
        Look at al lthe people's background ! who influenced them in their life ??? that's your answer!

        June 8, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • DontForget

      You apparently forgot what happened on 9/11. Imperialistic? The US doesn't want the land as a terrritory. The US wants to leave as soon as Afgans can take care of themselves.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • Yafah1

        America cannot control what happens to other countries – this is not her business – we have enough problems to deal with inside the US to try to fix the whole world!

        June 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Diogenes

    Time to get the rich oil countries to invest in their poor neighbors. Perhaps a VAT on oil profits where we channel 3-5% directly to Afghanistan rather than to the oil producers over there. Best thing is it does not cost us any more and it should be a wise investment by the Muslim world

    May 6, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |