Afghanistan: The Forward Lateral

The suicide attacks of 2006 in Afghanistan, coinciding with an increase of NATO-led forces in the area, serve as harsh reminders of the unfinished business left behind when the United States shifted its focus in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) to Iraq (based on a series of uncorroborated claims).

When U.S. troops attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001, they had the backing of many allies in the war on terror including the United Nations. However, months later, when Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the disasterminds of U.S. foreign policy decided to change course and invade Iraq, the rogue Taliban had not been defeated as imagined, they merely slipped into obscurity; taking refuge in the mountainous borderlands of Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Thus began a series of foreign policy fumbles reulting from the U.S. determination to militarily implement rapid regime change without providing support and logistics necessary for rebuilding. It even appears that some U.S. politicians are prepared to give up on Iraq entirely and start over again with (gulp!) Iran (Krauthammer and Ledeen, among others, think a showdown is inevitable), as USAID today paints a picture of an out-of-control Iraq, replete with “social breakdown” and criminal “free rein.”

So now as the UK has begun displacing some of their troops in Iraq to help lead the NATO mission in Afghanistan, a U.S. envoy is warning them to be prepared for violent opposition from Taliban forces.

Hamid Karzai is left to his own devices to foil future attacks and has launched an investigation to find “where the militants are getting their resources, their support and where they are coming from,” and protests are underway at the site where 26 where killed and dozens injured near Kandahar on Monday.

Holland has pledged to send over 1,000 troops to Afghanistan, but not without a grudge to bear:

Dutch Commander General Dick Berlijn said on Wednesday:

“The actions of the Americans have had little or no effect. The Taliban was dealt with – and that was very necessary – but the country is no more stable as a result….”

Even pacifist Sweden’s mission in the country has recently been threatened:

“[Al-Qaeda] had a focus and direction against Sweden that we hadn’t seen before and were coupled with a criticism of Sweden’s participation in Afghanistan…” — SAPO Security Chief Dagens Nyheter.

There are reports of at least 20 suicide bombings in Afghanistan in these first 17 days of 2006 alone, including an attack near Kandahar Sunday, killing a senior Canadian diplomat.

While President Bush continues insisting that “everything changed” after “September the eleventh,” it is as a result of hasty U.S. policies an actions in the four years since that have led to a dangerous deterioration in worldwide faith in United States’ foreign policies and goals abroad.

Afghanistan is not a forgotten war, at least not outside of the U.S., as UN Security Council President Augustine P. Mahiga of Tanzania has announced an international conference later this month in London to ?provide a solid framework for the next stage of reconstruction.? But it seems that America’s poor handling of the Afghan situation has only left a bitter taste and has inspired fear not in the enemy, but in our NATO allies left to clean up the mess.

And by the way, What’s up with Osama bin Laden?

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