Last year Massachusetts Senator John Kerry made $2,600,000 off of US military contracts awarded to Companies which he is an investor. Thats why I don’t understand why the guy runs around lying about the war effort in Afghanistan. He keeps saying we are loosing to the Taliban and we need to cut back in Iraq and spend more in Afghanistan (maybe his particular contracts are for the Afghani effort).
The real story isn’t Kerry’s conflict of interests, its the fact that he is just plain wrong. We are WINNING in Afghanistan, not as fast at most people would like but if you apply the “Reagan Principal” to the Afghani people in over 85% of the country the answer would be a RESOUNDING yes !!! As Bret Stephens points out that is the real battle, the hearts and minds of the people, do they feel safer, do they perceive that they are winning ?:
Elaborate security preparations on the eve of Afghanistan’s Independence Day nearly kept me from making my flight out of Kabul on Saturday. But they did little to stop insurgents from nearly assassinating President Hamid Karzai, Sadat-like, from his review stand on a military parade ground the very next day. Are we “losing Afghanistan,” as people like John Kerry seem to think? Sunday’s attack illustrates a point, made to me by Brig. Gen. Mark Milley of the 101st Airborne Division, that “security is perception” – meaning that not only must the streets be safe, but people must believe them to be so. By that token, a spike in suicide bombings and kidnappings suggests Afghanistan is considerably less secure today than it was three or four years ago. It also suggests Afghanistan’s ostensible weakening can be used as a political alibi to accelerate troop withdrawals from Iraq.But after a week spent shuttling between Kabul, Kandahar and Nangarhar province (in sight of Tora Bora), I found the notion of “losing Afghanistan” to be, at a minimum, overblown. Afghanistan has 34 provinces. Twenty-nine of them are more or less at peace, more or less better off than they were six years ago, and more or less governed by someone their own people can live with. That leaves five provinces that are the country’s belt of real insecurity. Together with the adjacent provinces in Pakistan, these form what is sometimes called Pashtunistan, in reference to the ethnic group from which the Taliban sprang. In many ways it’s another country. But even here the evidence that it is being “lost” is slight. Take Musa Qala, a town in Helmand Province that the British effectively ceded to insurgents in late 2006, after which it became the Afghan version of Fallujah. In December, NATO and Afghan forces retook the town, but not before flipping a former Taliban governor, Mullah Abdul Salaam, to their side. Mullah Salaam was rewarded by becoming district chief in Musa Qala, where he routinely denounces his former comrades as un-Islamic while providing intelligence to NATO forces. Mullah Salaam’s story is not unique. If anything, it shows that the term “Taliban” ill suits the current insurgency. This consists of Taliban remnants loyal to Mullah Mohammed Omar in Pakistan; foreign jihadists; four or five disaffected tribal warlords; and peasant fighters whose loyalties are often up for sale. Overall, this group amounts to maybe 10,000 fighters. It draws its strength less from religious zeal than from its ties to heroin smugglers, making it more akin to Colombia’s narcoterrorist FARC than to Iraq’s Mahdi Army. As a military force, it is no match for the 70,000 foreign troops and a comparable number of increasingly effective Afghan soldiers. “It used to be a Taliban trademark that they wanted to stand and fight,” says Maj. Gen. Robert Cone. “Now we’re seeing more asymmetric attacks.” In other words, the increase in terrorism is a sign of the insurgency’s weakness, not its strength. Last year’s killing of Mullah Dadullah, sometimes described as “the backbone of the Taliban,” has also had its effect, including what one Western official describes as “the promotion of mid-level leaders at odds with al Qaeda.” This isn’t to say that the insurgency is close to being defeated, especially not when its safe havens across the border have been all but blessed by the new, less confrontational Pakistani government. But it does mean the insurgency can be tamed, a thought that ought to comfort Gen. David Petraeus as he assumes command of both the Iraqi and Afghan theaters. Not only that, it can be tamed in roughly the same way. Broadly speaking, this means two things. First, soldiers need to get out of their garrisons. “We’re so close to being [in Afghanistan] but we’re really not,” observes Lt. Col. Jesse Edwards at the Kandahar airbase. That comment doesn’t apply to servicemen like Timothy Altizer of Princeton, W. Va., a Navy medic I met Friday as he and his company of Marines were about to deploy to their forward operating bases. But life at the airbase – where Pizza Hut delivers and there is nary an Afghan in sight – is as far removed from Afghan realities as Park Avenue is from the Bronx. The second piece is to win over the tribes. In the northeastern city of Jalabad, I witnessed a meeting of 30 or so tribal elders, a provincial governor named Gul Agha Sherzai and Henrietta Fore, the capable administrator of USAID. Mr. Sherzai’s reputation for corruption is nearly as outsized as his gold watch, and his province, Nangarhar, was until recently a major source of terrorism and poppies. But now the poppy crop has been reduced by 80% and violence is way down. Both achievements have been purchased by a combination of astute counterinsurgency, firm governance and a huge influx of development money for schools, roads and medical clinics. Whether this formula will work equally well in places like Helmand and Kandahar remains to be seen. But it’s a useful reminder that things really are getting better in Afghanistan, even if the headlines suggest otherwise.