NATO forces are in a “strategic stalemate” in Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents gain control in remote areas and government reconstruction efforts falter, according to a report released Wednesday. “"Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan," said the report by the Atlantic Council of the United States, chaired by retired former NATO commander Gen. James L. Jones. (The Washington Post, free registration)
What the commentators said
President Bush is “unlikely to point out what’s going wrong in Afghanistan,” said the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial, but the country is clearly “still a dangerous, precarious place to be.” Taliban attacks on schools are on the rise—300,000 children are skipping school “out of fear.” Congress—and the American public—should “resist the urge to file the troubles in Afghanistan under the ‘Done’ column.”
Even Canada—“one of the ass-kickingest members of the Afghanistan coalition—is threatening to pull out its troops if other NATO members don't pony up more soldiers, choppers and cash,” said David Axe in Wired’s Danger Room blog. The U.S. is promising to send a few thousand more Marines, but NATO nations have already shown that they can’t stomach more than “a handful of deaths.”
Bush glossed over this “rapidly deteriorating” mess in his State of the Union speech, said Newsday in an editorial, but his administration is acutely aware of Afghanistan’s security troubles and “the instability of Pakistan's border, where the Taliban and al-Qaida are staging a renewed insurgency.” In addition to the extra Marines in Afghanistan, Bush is sending top intelligence officials to Pakistan to forge a new strategy for fighting al Qaida there, and “and bullying NATO into committing more troops and resources.” Still, it would be best to level with the public, so the public would know the threat is “being taken very seriously.”
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