November 2008: ICOS releases a map showing Taliban presence in Afghanistan, with a “permanent” presence found in 72 percent of the country:
The mere presence of foreign soldiers fighting a war in Afghanistan is probably the single most important factor in the resurgence of the Taliban.
WASHINGTON — President Obama said Tuesday that he would send an additional 17,000 American troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer, putting his stamp firmly on a war that he has long complained is going in the wrong direction.
Thousands of US Marines stormed into an Afghan river valley by helicopter and land early today, launching the first major military offensive of Barack Obama’s presidency with an assault deep into Taleban-held territory.
August 2009: UK’s Department for International Development compiles a study of radicalization in Afghanistan that finds that the presence of foreign forces is one of the key motivators for joining the Taliban:
Religious motivation is only one of several reason for joining or supporting the Taliban or Hizb-i Islami. A religious message does resonate with the majority but this is mainly because it is couched in terms of two keenly felt pragmatic grievances: the corruption of government and the presence of foreign forces.
September 2009: ICOS releases a new map of the Taliban/insurgent presence in Afghanistan, with a “permanent” presence in 80 percent of the country and a significant presence in 97 percent of the country:
I’ll have more on this later, but the short version is: troop increases have failed to arrest the spread of the Taliban in Afghanistan; in fact, they are a key factor in growing the insurgency.
(Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. You can learn more about the dangers posed to U.S. national security by the war in Afghanistan by watching Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six): Security, or by visiting http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog.)