President Obama’s Escalation Drives Spread of Insurgency

Posted: September 10, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

November 2008: ICOS releases a map showing Taliban presence in Afghanistan, with a “permanent” presence found in 72 percent of the country:

Taliban Presence in Afghanistan, November 2008

Taliban Presence in Afghanistan, November 2008

January 2009: Carnegie Institute for International Peace’s Giles Dorronsoro:

The mere presence of foreign soldiers fighting a war in Afghanistan is probably the single most important factor in the resurgence of the Taliban.

February 2009: President Obama orders a major escalation of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan:

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.

July 2009: Troops sent to Afghanistan as part of President Obama’s escalation make their move:

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:

Taliban Presence in Afghanistan, September 2009

Taliban Presence in Afghanistan, September 2009

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.)

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Comments
  1. sporkmaster says:

    But one counter against this type of logic is that something like this similar to saying that higher law enforcement is spreading crime. Also complaining against increased troop levels and that the current levels are not doing the job. I know we added more recently but considering the neglect for years as far as troops and supplies it will take more then it did for iraq.

    • dcrowe says:

      I can see that perspective. However, if the question is “will adding more cops reduce the level of crime in neighborhood X,” and after you add cops, crime goes up, the answer is to your question was obviously “no.” And, if people warned you ahead of time that adding more cops would lead to more violence, and you did it anyway, and violence went up, it would be fair to point that out, right?

      • sporkmaster says:

        Well with the police they are for the most part used in the same way. (Also it is taking for granted that the law system is just also) But as far as the jobs and such soldiers are more specialized. So that just because there is a troop increase, if it is not enough in one area the need for more troops exists.

        But lets go with your “What if”. Lets say that we have sent all the things that we could ever want as far as supporting the COIN operations and that there is no way that we can bring a stable Afghanistan that is not riddled with a injustice and corruption government. My question back (Incredibility open one so bear with me) would be is how can we help the people stuck in the middle of the Taliban against the Warlords? Because interest will be lost there by the general public, but the problems there will still remain. I would also acknowledge that there have been many mistakes. But that would be better of playing arm chair general from general safety and well being talking about what went wrong(who to blame) against doing it while dodging IEDs and bullets.

        Because it is easy to try to solve things when everything goes according to plan, it takes a leader to try to solve them when things do not.

  2. I strongly disagree with Giles Dorronsoro that the number of foreign forces is what’s responsible for the taliban’s resurgence. I’d argue instead that the Afghan government at all levels has failed to provide anything to most people in the country, save for sytemic corruption, and the taliban have expertly exploited this. This is especially the case in Southern Afghanistan. Additionally, ISAF/Nato has squandered years with no discernable strategy, and operated within a byzantine command structure that was difficult to understand charted on paper, never mind on the ground. Much of this is changing now, so it will be interesting to see how much of anyone’s country map is showing Taliban red 8-12 months from now. . .

    • dcrowe says:

      …the Afghan government at all levels has failed to provide anything to most people in the country, save for sytemic corruption, and the taliban have expertly exploited this. This is especially the case in Southern Afghanistan.

      This is definitely true, but it’s not an either/or equation. From DFID’s study based on in-person interviews with insurgents and people in insurgency-prone areas:

      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.

      I also agree with you re: NATO/ISAF screwing around for years and wasting opening after opening (assuming one grants the validity of any violent exercise, which I don’t). However, as my post from early this morning shows, these considerations are now just the tip of the iceberg. Karzai’s corruption and idiocy have now put the entire constitutional mandate of the Kabul government on a self-destruct sequence.

      The true Screw Up in U.S. Afghanistan policy was the decision to validate and then protect with violence the government that emerged from the 2002 loya jirga. Everything else is just an outgrowth of that.

  3. […] violence" (Whoops.); "Percent of population living in districts/areas under insurgent control" (Darn it.); "Public perceptions of security" (whoops); and "Ability of the ANSF to assume lead security […]

  4. […] President Obama’s Escalation Drives Spread of Insurgency posted on September 21st, 2009 at Return Good for Evil […]

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