There was an interesting but infuriating article in The Times by Simon Jenkins today where he describes the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. The shorter Jenkins is that things are not going very well. The crux of the problem is that Nato’s force in Kabul is in shambles with the United States and the United Kingdom in disagreement over their basic strategy, the Canadians having had enough, and the Continental Europeans contributing more trouble then they are worth.
But what really struck my nerve with this article was the praise that Jenkins heaps on the Taleban adversaries. He describes them as the ‘toughest fighters’ on earth. I am admittedly not qualified to pass judgement on that score, but I would have to question the real fighting skill of men who are barely literate, fed or able to maintain basic hygiene. Given the disarray that NATO forces are in, and the difficulties that they are inflicting on themselves, it is no wonder that a numerically larger, motivated and home based insurgency is able to maintain a serious military challenge.
If the challenge posed by the Taleban is to be met by NATO or the government of Afghanistan, then NATO have to take this crisis seriously. The chances of this happening are approximately zero, of course, so the rational thing to do is to look forward to the day when the Taleban regain power in Afghanistan. Given the total bankruptcy of NATO’s military strategy and the weakness of the United States, it is likely that terrorists will regain their safe haven in Central Asia in the medium term.
Such an outcome would be to the total discredit of Western political leadership. Had they committed a serious military effort to Afghanistan, and united behind a common strategy, Afghanistan would have settled down under corrupt but peaceful leadership years ago. But there is no evidence of any politician in the West taking Afghanistan seriously.