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December 6, 2007
Surprising Poll Results from Afghanistan
StrategyPage.Com points us to a poll taken in Afghanistan that shows widespread support for the presence of US troops but disappointment in the performance of NATO forces overall:
A poll conducted by foreign news organizations found that 72 percent of Afghans approve presence of 55,000 U.S. and NATO troops. But only 68 percent believed the foreign troops were doing a good job. There are conflicting views on how much progress the Taliban are making in retaking Afghanistan. Some observers may be confusing the drug gangs - who hire Taliban soldiers for security - with Taliban military operations.
Not surprisingly, 92 percent of the population opposed the Taliban. Foreign terrorists are opposed by 83 percent of Afghans. About twenty percent of the population is believed to be very conservative, especially in terms of religion. The majority of the population is socially and religiously conservative by Western standards. These is a sharp divide between urban and rural Afghans, and most of the population is still rural.
The fact is, the Taliban are getting slaughtered on the battlefield wherever they show themselves in any numbers at all:
This year, about 6,000 people died because of the Taliban and al Qaeda violence. That's actually about the same number as were killed last year. The 55,000 foreign troops suffered 210 dead, while the 100,000 Afghan soldiers and police lost 700 so far this year. Over 4,000 Taliban were killed, plus nearly a thousand civilians. There were also over a thousand people killed because of criminal violence (drug gangs, bandits and warlord or tribal feuds). This is a supreme test for NATO. France and Germany both have large contingents of troops in Afghanistan who do no fighting whatsoever (France does have hundreds of special forces in the north). Unless NATO committs more troops to the battle, security in Afghanistan will deteriorate and the tribes, ever mindful of who is winning and losing the war, may switch sides.
The Taliban take heart from the growing reluctance of NATO countries to remain in Afghanistan, partly because of the number of their soldiers killed. To the Taliban, it is a source of pride that, although they lose over ten men for every NATO soldier killed, it is the NATO countries that are likely to falter and flee the battlefield first. The Taliban believe they are carrying out God's Will, while the NATO nations are a bunch of weak unbelievers.
The problem is that everytime some NATO countries lose a soldier, leftists hit the streets and demand the troops come home. It is politically unpalatable for many NATO countries to deploy troops to the battle zone. Hence, they have invoked "caveats" in sending their troops that they can be used as long as they see no combat.
This situation must change if the Taliban will ever be defeated in Afghanistan.