U.S. Army soldiers begin a descent while on patrol in Zabul province, Afghanistan, June 25, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. William Tremblay
Afghanistan is now America's longest war .... and it shows no signs of ending .... in fact .... it is getting worse. With a belief that God is supporting their cause, the Taliban have now recruited a significant force that is fighting a war that is based on a religious conviction (jihad) that we in the West cannot even hope to counter.
Long time readers of this blog know that while I have always been supportive of the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan, I am deeply skeptical of any success in this conflict. We have as our Afghan allies in this conflict a dysfunctional and corrupt central government, a dysfunctional (for the most part) Afghan security force, and a population that is neutral with our presence in the country (at best), or openly hostile at worse. Coupled this with safe havens in Pakistan's tribal regions, the Taliban have a human resource pool of willing and able fighters at their disposal that can easily replace the hundreds of commanders and soldiers that are killed every month by U.S./allied forces.
What is also a worrisome trend is that the Taliban now believe that they are going to ultimately win this war, a perception that has been reinforced by many of our allies making plans to quickly leave the country within a year (Canada, the Netherlands, etc.), and even more later on (Great Britain, France, and probably Germany).
But the coup de grace has been President Obama's own commitment to draw down U.S. military involvement starting next year .... even though U.S. military commanders have been insistent that any drawdown will be determined by conditions on the ground. This one policy anouncement has caused irreperable harm to the allied cause in Afghanistan, and regardless of what President Obama may say in the future .... the message is clear .... the Americans political establishment is now contemplating and making plans to leave.
My prediction .... with a stagnant economy and an unwinnable war strategy in place, U.S. forces will start to depart en masse before the 2012 elections .... a withdrawal that will accelerate even further if some elements of the Taliban can be convinced to put down their weapons and reach a political compromise with the Afghan government.
But like the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, the dye is already in cast .... with only a semi-functional Afghan military and a few outside military advisers in front of their eventual domination of Afghanistan, the Taliban will be successful in conquering and governing much of Afghanistan by 2015 .... if not sooner.