Editor's Note: Melissa Labonte is an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University. Peter Romaniuk is an associate professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
By Melissa Labonte and Peter Romaniuk – Special to CNN
Recently, after militants undertook a 20-hour assault on the U.S. embassy and NATO compound in Kabul, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, downplayed the implications. “This really is not a very big deal,” he said, adding that, “If that’s the best they can do, I think it’s actually a statement of their weakness.” Following the recent assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, former Afghan President and leader of the government’s efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban, the ambassador should rethink his poorly chosen words.
The uptick in violence in Afghanistan includes multiple attacks in the capital (the British Council, the Inter-Continental Hotel, and the Afghan Defense Ministry), as well as the recent assassinations of four of President Hamid Karzai’s closest advisers: his half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai; Kandahar city mayor, Ghulam Haidar Hameedi; long-time mentor, Jan Mohammad Khan, and outspoken Taliban opponent, Mohammed Daud Daud. These events have occurred against the backdrop of a particularly deadly summer for U.S. forces – at 70, U.S. casualties in August set a record for any month in America’s near-decade long engagement. By any measure, the current situation in Afghanistan is a very big deal.