April 16th, 2010
07:09 AM ET

Can lessons from other nations show way forward in Afghanistan?

Zieba Shorish-Shamley offers a history lesson to people who say a peace settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan is possible.

She asks them to remember how the Taliban massacred thousands of Afghans, beat women who walked alone in public, stoned to death women accused of adultery and tried to bend everyone to their fanatical form of Islam.

That is how she remembers life under the Taliban. Only force can stop the leaders of such a brutal movement, says Shorish-Shamley, a native of Afghanistan.

In early May, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government will invite a group of people, including tribal elders and parliament members, to discuss ways to reconcile with the Taliban.

“The leaders of the Taliban are not going to come around,” says Shorish-Shamley, founder and director of the Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan.

“Do you think Hitler and the rest of the Nazis would have come to the table to negotiate not killing innocent Jews and invading everyone else’s country?”

Shorish-Shamley takes her cues on dealing with the Taliban from World War II. But some look to other examples from history and get another message: peace is possible in Afghanistan if leaders learn from other countries that found a way forward after years of internal warfare. FULL POST

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Filed under: Karzai • Taliban • Understanding Afghanistan
March 3rd, 2010
07:21 AM ET

Whatever happened to bin Laden?

Osama bin Laden - remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?

Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar,  the killing of two key Taliban commanders  and an increase in drone attacks.


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Filed under: al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden
February 10th, 2010
07:24 AM ET

Afghan forces, citizens key to Marjah victory after battle ends

Coalition forces in Afghanistan will face two enemies when they invade the Taliban stronghold of Marjah: the enemy and the clock, military experts say.

The U.S.-led offensive Operation Moshtarak, which is expected is start any day, is being described as the largest military operation in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

But the most important battle will take place after the shooting stops, several military experts say. The Marjah offensive will feature the largest presence of Afghan national army troops in any battle to date, yet what these troops do afterward will be critical, they say.

“This is a great opportunity for Afghan security forces to establish their bona fides,” says Lt. Col. Michael E. Silverman, an Iraq war veteran and a counterinsurgency training consultant for the U.S. Army.

 “We’ll never have enough U.S. forces to hold a place in the middle of Afghanistan,” Silverman says. “It’s going to have to be the Afghan forces that are going to take the lead in holding places.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Marjah • Operation Moshtarak • Troops
January 7th, 2010
08:14 AM ET

Past war offers Afghanistan lessons. And it's not Vietnam

The war ignited protests at home. American soldiers battled elusive fighters in remote jungles. The enemy used hit-and-run tactics to drain America’s will.

As President Obama begins to send more of the 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in the new year, some critics are invoking those snapshots from history to argue that the United States can’t afford to get bogged down in another Vietnam.

But those snapshots actually come from another war: The Philippine-American War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. The war is largely forgotten today, but it was a bloody preview of the type of warfare that the U.S. military faced in Asia and now in Afghanistan, historians say.

“It was the 19th century version of Vietnam,” said Edward Sheehy, a professor of military history at La Salle University in Pennsylvania.

There was, however, one big difference: The U.S. won. How did a far weaker U.S. military prevail in the Philippines and what lessons can Obama apply from that victory to Afghanistan today? FULL POST