Afghanistan as it really is

This very affecting article by Anna Badkhen at FP highlights many of the reasons why Barack Obama's Afghanistan plan will fail and our efforts wasted.

Badkhen, a reporter who covered the hinterlands in Afghanistan, relates how she heard the news of Taliban takeovers of many familiar villages this spring and how disconnected the people are from the government:

The villages fell without a battle.

Armed men on motorcycles simply showed up at orangeade dusk, summoned the elders, and announced the new laws. A 10 percent tax on all earnings to feed the Taliban coffers. A lifestyle guided by the strictest interpretation of Shariah. All government collaborators will be punished as traitors.

There was no one at hand to fend off the offensive. There were no policemen in the villages, no Afghan or NATO soldiers nearby. The villagers themselves, sapped by two consecutive years of drought and a lifetime of recurring bloodshed, put up no resistance.

[...]

Their surrender was not in the news. In Afghanistan, most people live and die nameless, unsung, neglected by policymakers in Kabul and Washington both. The billions of international aid dollars pumped into Afghanistan in the last decade have mostly bypassed them.

Maybe, then, they yielded so easily because they cannot tell which is worse: the Taliban's severe and unforgiving rule or Afghan President Hamid Karzai's kleptocracy. From the latter they've seen nothing. They still toil in their fields much like their forefathers have done since the beginning of recorded history: with homemade wooden tools, barefoot, and with no access to health care, decent roads, electricity, or clean water. "Either way, our life will be very hard," my friend in Oqa once told me.

Read the whole thing to get an idea of how the Taliban moves pretty much without opposition through some provinces. This is how 80% of the people in Afghanistan live. And while there is no doubt that wherever our military moves the Taliban flees, perhaps it's time to start questioning how these small towns and villages are going to remain free of the Taliban when we leave. Theoretically, the Afghan army and police would take our place. But they have yet to prove that they can handle the job and we begin withdrawing this year.




This very affecting article by Anna Badkhen at FP highlights many of the reasons why Barack Obama's Afghanistan plan will fail and our efforts wasted.

Badkhen, a reporter who covered the hinterlands in Afghanistan, relates how she heard the news of Taliban takeovers of many familiar villages this spring and how disconnected the people are from the government:

The villages fell without a battle.

Armed men on motorcycles simply showed up at orangeade dusk, summoned the elders, and announced the new laws. A 10 percent tax on all earnings to feed the Taliban coffers. A lifestyle guided by the strictest interpretation of Shariah. All government collaborators will be punished as traitors.

There was no one at hand to fend off the offensive. There were no policemen in the villages, no Afghan or NATO soldiers nearby. The villagers themselves, sapped by two consecutive years of drought and a lifetime of recurring bloodshed, put up no resistance.

[...]

Their surrender was not in the news. In Afghanistan, most people live and die nameless, unsung, neglected by policymakers in Kabul and Washington both. The billions of international aid dollars pumped into Afghanistan in the last decade have mostly bypassed them.

Maybe, then, they yielded so easily because they cannot tell which is worse: the Taliban's severe and unforgiving rule or Afghan President Hamid Karzai's kleptocracy. From the latter they've seen nothing. They still toil in their fields much like their forefathers have done since the beginning of recorded history: with homemade wooden tools, barefoot, and with no access to health care, decent roads, electricity, or clean water. "Either way, our life will be very hard," my friend in Oqa once told me.

Read the whole thing to get an idea of how the Taliban moves pretty much without opposition through some provinces. This is how 80% of the people in Afghanistan live. And while there is no doubt that wherever our military moves the Taliban flees, perhaps it's time to start questioning how these small towns and villages are going to remain free of the Taliban when we leave. Theoretically, the Afghan army and police would take our place. But they have yet to prove that they can handle the job and we begin withdrawing this year.




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