Friday, August 05, 2005

38 Percent Too Many

The good news: only 38 percent of Americans now approve of the way Mister Bush is handling the war.

The bad news: 38 percent of Americans still approve of the way Mister Bush is handling the war. What they think there is to approve of is beyond me.

An editorial in today's New York Times gives us a pretty good low down on the situation in Afghanistan. "Afghanistan is out of the headlines, but its war against the Taliban goes on. These days, it is not going well."

The problem, it seems, is Pakistan. General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military ruler, is "passively" aiding the Taliban. In March, Taliban fighters started showing up in greater numbers along the Afghan-Pakistan border with "suspiciously sophisticated" weapons. 38 US soldiers have died in combat in Afghanistan this year along with hundreds of Afghans, and next month's primary elections are threatened.

And this just in: Afghanistan is still a narco-state.

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The Time 's Craig S. Smith reports that "A day after losing 15 marines in fighting along the Euphrates River, the American military command [in Iraq] said Thursday that suicide attacks had declined as a result of its three-month campaign to stem the flow of foreign fighters coming down the river valley from Syria."

Note they're talking about "suicide" attacks. The total number of attacks of all kinds remains constant.
Brig. Gen. C. Donald Alston, chief spokesman for the American command, said 13 car bombings occurred in Iraq last week, only three of which were suicide bombings, the lowest weekly figures since the current counterinsurgency campaign in western Anbar Province began. The military regards car bombings, suicide bombings in particular, as a rough measure of foreign fighter activity because it contends that most of the suicide bombers are foreign militants.

Only three of thirteen bombings were suicide attacks. Mission accomplished, huh?
"When I look at the bar charts, the statistics are a clear indication that the tempo of suicide attacks has decreased," General Alston said, noting that the percentage of car bombings involving suicide bombers was as high as 60 percent a few months ago. He expressed optimism that the flow of foreign fighters was ebbing. "This is not an expanding insurgency," he said.

Ah, the insurgency is not expanding. Um, is that supposed to be a good sign, General?

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MSNBC reports the Marines have launched a new offensive. No word on how this new offensive might bring improved success over the old offensives.

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I'm never quite sure what to make of the Boston Globe's Mike Barnacle, but I sure cheered his rant on this morning's Imus program. It's time for the mainstream media to stop helping the administration soft peddle this woebegone war and start showing the delusional 38 percent what it really looks like.

10 comments:

  1. That Musharraf government must be passively aiding the Taliban is a highly reasonably assumption to make. Pakistan's military has long enjoyed a reputation as a very highly professional, very well trained military force.

    Competent professional soldiers simply don't tolerate the kind of corruption which would allow passive aid to an enemy without the leadership being aware of and approving of it.

    So, on that basis alone the allegation of passive aid to the Taliban makes a lot of sense.

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  2. No expert I, Kevin, but I suspect M. is in kind of the same bind Karzai (sp?) is in. If he pushes the Taliban too hard, they'll turn on him.

    Jeff

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  3. Oh, I don't doubt that he is in a delicate domestic political situation in that regard. But, that makes him no different than the leader of any other country, really. I mean, that's part and parcel of being a nation's leader.

    What's relevant, IMHO, is that there must be some sort of tacit support for the Taliban happening and that Musharraf surely knows about it. Meanwhile, both he and Karzai are routinely touted as Bush's best buddies in the region.

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  4. They're better buddies of Bush than I am.

    Yes, I think "tacit support" is a good term for it.

    Jeff

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  5. I notice you've taken to calling the Preztledent "Mister Bush" ...

    I love the anarchist in you ;-)

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  6. You're a mean one, Mister Bush,
    You're a ghoull in every sense.

    You've come from a bad gene pool,
    You're a neoconservative tool,

    Mister Bush

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  7. Kevin, the Pakistani government created the Taliban.

    I caught a news item some months ago about the Taliban fighting in the Kashmir region of India. Pakistan and India have very bad relations (to the brink of nuclear war some years ago) and Kashmir is in dispute. Apparently, the Pakistanis were using the Taliban as surrogates in guerrilla warfare.

    There was another news item a few weeks ago that Taliban leaders were living quite openly in cities in Pakistan. I believe Musharraf ordered a raid so they may have gone underground now. Still, Pakistani security services, Muslim fundamentalists, the Taliban, and perhaps al Qaeda all seem very friendly towards each other.

    Karen

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  8. What in the wide world of sports made the neoconmen think we could change all this with military power?

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  9. Still, Pakistani security services, Muslim fundamentalists, the Taliban, and perhaps al Qaeda all seem very friendly towards each other.


    Karen, I think that's called playing both ends against the middle. You can bet that Musharraf knows what's going on in his intelligence services. He wouldn't be in power if he didn't.

    Musharraf took advantage of 9/11 to seemingly switch sides. To what end? Reagan had sold Pakistan some F-16 fighter jets only to turn around and quash the actual transfer because of their developing nuclear weapons program. Not too long thereafter Pakistan set off it's first nuke and joined the ranks of nuclear powers.

    So along comes 9/11 and Musharraf sees a potential opportunity to make the current American government feel beholden' to him. Sure enough it didn't take him long to ask Bush to finally ship him the fighter jets. Bush balked at first. But, Bush eventually shipped the fighters. Just in the last year I believe.

    So now Musharraf has what he wanted most - the F-16's. Sure there are political points left to be scored by publically going along with the anti-Taliban meme. But, it seems self-evident that he's not trying very hard to actually do anything constructive about the Taliban.

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  10. I keep looking for something we're doing right in that part of the world. Nothing found yet.

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