Afghanistan: The Non-Country


November9, 2006: So far this year, Taliban operations have left some 2,600 dead, most of them Taliban gunmen. Most of the bodies are eventually identified, which leads to visits to tribal or clan chiefs by government officials, in an attempt to reduce the number of tribesmen going to work for the Taliban. The basic problem in Afghanistan is that there is no tradition of a strong central government. "Afghanistan" is basically dozens of tribes, some of them with ancient feuds still active, and a central government that has, over the centuries, served (the tribes) best when it governed least.

November 8, 2006: Germany will now allow some of its support troops to operate in southern Afghanistan. NATO wants Germany to send combat troops south.

November 7, 2006: Since 2001, 288 American military personnel have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. But 35 percent of the deaths were non-combat (accidents, disease). This is an exceptionally low casualty rate for troops in a combat zone. During the 1979-88 Russian occupation of Afghanistan, they suffered casualties at six times the rate of the U.S. (adjusting for size of force and length of time in the country.)

November 6, 2006: Over the weekend, NATO troops hunted Taliban terrorists north of the capital, where Taliban terrorists have been launching more terror bombings of late.

In the south, bandits, or Taliban, freed three aid workers they had kidnapped the day before. The tribal leadership likes to protect aid workers, as they are a source of goodies, and if you scare off the aid workers, the goodies stop coming.

November 5, 2006: As Taliban gunmen scurry for Winter refuges, Afghan and foreign troops caught and killed nearly 200 of them in the past week. As resourceful as Pushtun tribesmen (from both sides of the border) are, they have not come up with a way to avoid aerial and ground detection systems used by government and NATO forces. UAVs are particularly troublesome, because they stay in the air for a long time, and are often not visible from the ground (particularly at night.) The smaller electric powered ones can't even be heard most of the time.

November 4, 2006: Six policemen and a soldier were killed in three separate attacks believed to involve Taliban. Normally, bandits do not ambush police, although sometimes tribesmen, feuding with the government, will. Tribesmen are often feuding with the local or national government, and prefer settling the beef with guns, rather than negotiation or litigation.

November 3, 2006: A kidnapped Italian journalist was released, after three weeks of captivity. It was believed that his kidnappers were Taliban, but the Taliban denied any connection. Bandits with political pretensions are suspected, and it is believed a ransom was paid.


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