Who’s Winning in Afghanistan ?

Here are just a few of the stories about Afghanistan this week :

* Robert Gates asks the Germans to send more troops… 

* A top Al Qaeda leader is killed in Pakistan… 

* A think tank says NATO isn’t winning

* The Bush administration says progress is being made- others disagree…

* President Karzai says local forces not foreign troops are the key to success..

* An Afghan journalist is sentenced to death for “blasphemy”…

Yesterday we asked our excellent Defence and Security Correspondent here at Bush House, Rob Watson (who has also presented WHYS) and he briefed us on the latest reports and news from the country. He told us there’s a real debate going on about whthere to strengthen troop deployment- or gradually prepare to leave.

He talked about how many people see the country as “virtually ungovernable”.  Canada says that its soldiers will not stay in Afghanistan unless Nato deploys more troops in the south.  Oxfam say there’ll be a “humanitarian disaster” if the west doesn’t change tack. Here’s what Barbara Stocking from the charity had to say :

“Afghans turn to narcotics, criminality, or even militancy, if they cannot feed their families. Military action addresses symptoms, not the underlying causes or conditions. ”

The phrase “failing state” is heard a lot. Are the insurgents and the drug barons winning- or are NATO forces gradually turning it around ?

Should there be a change of direction ? or is Afghanistan impossible to run peacefully ?

19 Responses to “Who’s Winning in Afghanistan ?”

  1. February 1, 2008 at 14:26

    But look how well “Shock and Aww (Part IV). The Surge” in Iraq is doing!!!

    “That is all I have to say about the war in” Afghanistan.

  2. February 1, 2008 at 14:31

    Dearest Mark Sandell ! Here I am writing this comment with a harsh burning feeling in my eyes… I just don’t get it… I used to be able to cry before, but right now I just can’t cry ! Today two terrorist attacks have taken place in two popular markets in Baghdad… 64 people were murdered and other 100 were injured in an initial satistics liable to rise ! The thing that really hurts me about all this is that the World has become used to hearing DEATH NEWS from Iraq, and also Baghdadis themselves have become used to the presence of HIDDEN DEATH in their city ! How horrible when DEATH becomes an integral part of your daily life routine ! Hope sometimes seems too close, but other times it seems too far away ! Mark Sandell, I just wanna ask you and also all WHYS good listeners : What’s your ultimate dream ?! Because every ordinary Baghdadi’s ultimate dream is to survive, at least for the day ! With my love ! Yours forever… Lubna !

  3. 3 Brett
    February 1, 2008 at 14:51

    “Canada says that its soldiers will not stay in Afghanistan unless Nato deploys more troops in the south.”

    -Kudos to Canada for placing more pressure on international organizations to help with this issue instead of individual countries stepping in as they see fit.

    Afghanistan is not impossible to run peacefully; But what should be done is alot more involved than sending in troops to kill people. I will agree with Barbara Stocking on her comment:
    ““Afghans turn to narcotics, criminality, or even militancy, if they cannot feed their families. Military action addresses symptoms, not the underlying causes or conditions. “”
    Afghanistan is a nation torn by decades and even centuries of other countries wars. The British Indian and Russian Empires, then later the US and Russian empires have not only fought in these lands, but used the locals as pawns in their wars if they were not outright fighting them.
    As such they need to be handled a bit differently due the history of instability caused directly by foreign influence.

    Is more military action really needed to correct the centuries of past military campaigns?

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

    Maybe the US should not have supported the Islamic extremist Taliban during its scuffle over Communism simply because it helped their agenda. Unfortunately, I doubt they will be any more careful in the future when it comes to meddling in other countries internal affiars.

  4. 4 Brett
    February 1, 2008 at 15:03

    Oh yes, and:

    “* An Afghan journalist is sentenced to death for “blasphemy”…”

    Again, what another wonderful instance of religion being the cause / excuse for the taking of lives.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  5. 5 John D. Anthony
    February 1, 2008 at 16:54

    I think that most Americans have become numb to the horrors of your daily life, and that part of the reason is the shame we feel for allowing it to happen. The people who created this war not only knew that it would turn out this way – they were counting on it.
    That their plan has succeeded is for you a mixed blessing. We will remain in your country for many years, probably decades, to come. You will not be invaded by Iran or Syria but the sectarian conflict will probably go on for a long time as well. Most of us don’t understand it so we see it as a kind of tribal warfare and that, in an odd way, tends to absolve us of our guilt for unleashing it.
    My dream is for all people to understand that other people are different – not good or bad for what they believe, but just different.
    And I think that many people feel as I do, and breathe an inner sigh of relief when we see a message from you and know that you have survived another day.
    Peace be with you.

    John in Salem

  6. February 1, 2008 at 17:52

    Afghanastan is a tibal country under Allah and cannot maintain a rule of law. When backed into a corner, which law do you think the Afghans are going to follow our law or Allah’s. Tribal societies will revert to their tribal ways…look at Iraq and Kenya.

    KALW, San Francisco

  7. 7 Sean
    February 1, 2008 at 18:08

    Lubna –

    I wish to second John’s message. Our prayers of peace certainly go out to all those who suffer with these daily atrocities. My dream is that we as a world community can come to recognize the humanity and fundamental right to life inherent in us all. The cycle of violence does nothing but overwhelm us with grief, bitterness, and anger. Who do we hold responsible? The politicians push their agendas often in the very name of peace, but those elite seem to often be out of touch with the suffering of the majority. Obviously there is no easy answer, but I do believe that we need to work together in the spirit of peace, respect, and love to overcome the horrific problems that face us.

    As for the question about winning in Afghanistan, it’s hard to determine who is “winning”. First I must ask how do we define winning? Is it overwhelming political persuasion? Is it killing all those of the opposition? Is it negotiating an end to hostilities?


  8. 8 viola anderson
    February 1, 2008 at 18:25

    Lubna, dear one. Here are some words from a Christian hymn, “Hear my soul-burdened plea; let this cup pass from me. Even so, not my will, thine be done.” I feel sure your faith has similar words of wisdom for sad events like the suicide bombings in Iraq when one feels so helpless and discouraged. Anyone with an ounce of sense and compassion hopes and prays that the world will come to its senses and learn to settle differences peacefully.

  9. February 1, 2008 at 18:25

    Dear John D. Anthony : Thanks so much for your very kind words ! In fact what it appears to be a sectarian or religious conflict in Iraq is really a conflict about who’s gonna gain the ultimate political and the military power… It’s a conflict which fired up by different political Iraqi factions who care about everything except the interests of ordinary Iraqis… I have a question for you and for my other good friends in the US : Are Americans aware that most Iraqis think that getting rid of Saddam was a good thing ?! With my love ! Yours forever… Lubna !

  10. February 1, 2008 at 19:00

    Winning in Afghanistan can only mean moving towards a country that has some political stability, where terroristic violence is at minimum contained and where ordinary people feel they have a stake in the country and that there are real prospects of their lives improving.

    On these counts the “war” in Afghanistan is not yet won – butt by no means lost. Only Afghans themselves ultimately can route out corruption and violence in their own country. It is clear though that it will be some time before the Afghan Army and police are free enough from corruption and competent enough to take on this task unaided.

    Afghanistan may never be the sort of democratic country that we in the west would aspire to but that does not mean that they can not find a way down that road to a free and more prosperous country.

    One thing is certain – if the international troops were pulled out now the Taleban would take over large parts of the country. No one is happy that Helicopter gunships and ground troops need to be deployed there but the alternative is the complete collapse of the country and no prospect of a resolution. The real world is unfortunately a messy place whether you or I like it or not.

    By the way – for the commentator who talked about the US supporting the Taliban – you should know that actually the largest supporters of the Taliban were the Saudies with Pakistan intelligence and military agencies involved.

  11. 11 George USA
    February 1, 2008 at 19:23


    Forget the Geopolitics. You hit the nail on the head, survival.

    Hang in there. And get out if you can.

    The object of survival is not to survive in a specific spot on earth, just to survive.

    Oh, and don’t drive. You think too much to lay hands on a steering wheel in Baghdad.

    Go to the UK and do some medicine.

    It’s fun, and good for you too.

    If that is out hunker down- hunker down means keep your head low- invisible.

    Survival is good. Hunkered down is good. Invisible is good. Lucky is good.

    Good luck.

  12. 12 George USA
    February 1, 2008 at 19:27


    We did great going in,

    dropped the ball switching to a different stadium,

    and are playing 6 man West Texas football

    against a pro-team of long standing.

    Time to get in the game or throw in the towel.

    And the guys who switched stadiums are not throwing in a towel.

  13. 13 steve
    February 1, 2008 at 21:02

    I have to agree with Brett. If we fought there to remove the Taliban, and the new government is going to execute someone for blasphemy in the 21st century, did we really change anything there?

  14. 14 Thomas Murray
    February 1, 2008 at 21:17

    Of all the countries we’ve invaded in the Middle East, Afghanistan should’ve been the most managable.

    In light of its most recent outrage, a death sentence handed to an Afghan journalist (for downloading his brother’s e-mail), the Karzai government dropped the ball. Which, sadly, is nothing new.

    It’s clear that within about 15 minutes after the last 18-year-old American soldier steps foot into Pakastan the Karzai government’s going to collapse into a poppy-fueled Islamic dictatorship.

    What’s scary is that the al-Maliki government in Iraq is even shakier.

    –Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

  15. 15 Thomas Murray
    February 2, 2008 at 21:33


    Ultimate dream? I guess right now it’s that we can someday leave Iraq and Afghanistan without their governments collapsing.

    I don’t think the rest of the world realizes how disgusted many Americans are with our government, and how ashamed of what we’ve done to Iraq.

    This is why the republicans are eventually going to nominate Sen. John McCain for president. They realize there’s no way they’re going to win the next election. (Notice how cheerfully Rudy Giuliani bowed out — he knows.) But McCain is a war hero and respected politician, so the reps are giving him what we call his “last hurrah.”

    So deeply is the American enmity for the Bush administration that I can say with pretty good certainty that we’ll have Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton as our next president;– unprecedented not only for that one is African-American and the other a woman, but that Senators here rarely win the presidency (winners are usually governors) because of their often spotty track record of legislative deals in Congress.

    Hope this helps…

    Best regards, Tom, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

  16. February 4, 2008 at 15:36

    Hi to all of you my good friends ! Well, what can I say ?! THANKS A MILLION to each one of you for taking the time to write some very kind and relieving words for the sake of me and my precious Baghdad ! Please guys, don’t you ever think of Baghdad as a city which is dying … Think of Baghdad as a city which is trying her best to live inspite of all the pain and misery ! With my love ! Yours forever…. Lubna !

  17. May 6, 2008 at 10:05

    As its abvious for all Afghans that local Afghans forces are not well-equiped and trained to be controling the security across the country. Most of warlords and insurgents are still on power. Moreover, in remote areas of Afghanistan the government’s not accepted. They rule themselves, as example southern provinces witness the tarture just like extrimest Taleban regime.

    Naqeeb Poya,

  18. 18 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 9, 2008 at 03:33

    the only people are winning in afghanistan:::are
    terrorist groups e.g. al-qadea.

    dennis in madrid, united states of america

  19. 19 Martin
    May 23, 2008 at 16:48

    America will never reach a total victory in Afghanistan.

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