Have there been any new U.S. polls on Afghanistan taken since the locals went berserk over the Koran burnings? I’m keen to see what the Republican numbers look like now after days of killing followed by apologies followed by … more killing. It’s the right that’s been propping up support for the mission, but the thought of O’s “sorry” being met by Afghan officers shooting U.S. troops in the back of their heads while at their desks might be what finally finishes this project off. If 10 years of nation-building can’t prevent systemic fears of fraggings by Afghan soldiers, we’re wasting our time. And even if they can, we may be wasting our time anyway.
Gingrich senses an opportunity. Your move, Mitt:
Turning to the escalating violence in Afghanistan, the former Georgia congressman said the United States is facing an impossible task there.
“We are not going to fix Afghanistan. It is not possible,” he told a large group of Republicans at an afternoon luncheon here. “These are people who have spent several thousand years hating foreigners. And what we have done by staying is become the new foreigners.
“This is a real problem. And there are some problems where you have to say, ‘You know, you are going to have to figure out how to live your own miserable life… because you clearly don’t want to learn from me how to be unmiserable. And that is what you are going to see happen.”
The One now has cover from the self-styled anti-establishment Republican candidate to follow through on that speeded-up withdrawal Panetta floated last month. Can’t imagine that Romney would dare run to his right on the war against that backdrop unless it’s with sporadic boilerplate about “seeing the mission through” or “not surrendering” that no one presses him very hard on. Meanwhile, the official spin is that incidents of rebellion by Afghan troops are still relatively rare and might be caused by Taliban infiltration, but read this Time piece casting doubt on that. Even the Army itself doesn’t believe it:
The Saturday attacks seem to verify the findings of a declassified — then reclassified — U.S. Army study titled A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility, which was released in May 2011. Through hundreds of interviews with both Afghan and American service members, it found that the murders of NATO troops by Afghan troops “do not represent ‘rare and isolated events’ as [is] currently being proclaimed.” Afghan soldiers cited night raids and home searches by foreign troops, the lack of respect for women, indiscriminate shooting, constant cursing and arrogance as top complaints against their foreign “partners.” They also said failure to prosecute foreign troops for war crimes, disrespect for Afghan soldiers, poor logistical support and a failure to share information led to divisions between the two forces — among numerous other complaints that included entering mosques, eating in front of fasting Afghan soldiers during Ramadan and other episodes of the desecration of the Koran.
At the same time, the report noted that U.S. troops have an extremely low regard for their Afghan counterparts. The service members’ top complaints were that the Afghans were drug abusers, thieves, traitorous, unstable, incompetent and had poor officers and noncommissioned officers. The troops also said Afghan recruits lacked discipline, were dangerous in firefights, were cowardly, lazy and had poor hygiene.
The report concludes that “the rapidly growing fratricide-murder trend committed by Afghan national security force [ANSF] personnel against NATO members” confirms the “ineffectiveness [of] our efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan, developing a legitimate and effective government, battling the insurgency, gaining the loyalty, respect and friendship of the Afghans [and] building the ANSFs into legitimate and functional organizations.” The report says that these complaints and murders challenge the usefulness of the “partnering” concept.
Said one former NATO rep, “If the trust, ability and willingness to partner falls apart, you are looking at the endgame here.” I’m not sure I understand that “if,” though: So worried was Gen. Allen about fraggings this weekend that he felt compelled to pull NATO advisors out of Afghan ministries, which are supposed to be secure and whose personnel are doubtless vetted carefully for their loyalties. If you can’t work in a cubicle inside the Interior Ministry without having to worry about some enraged lunatic shooting you in the face, what’s left?
Here’s Rush Limbaugh on today’s show wondering if maybe it’s time to say “to hell with the place.” See why I’m so curious about new poll numbers? Click the image to watch the clip, then read this Michael Hirsh piece at National Journal noting that the Koran-burning isn’t the only thing Afghan-related that Obama plans to apologize for. Relations with Pakistan have been strained ever since NATO airstrikes killed several dozen Pakistani troops back in November; an official “sorry” for that has been in the works for awhile in hopes of rebuilding cooperation, especially given the growing U.S. alarm about Haqqani hideouts across the border. But O may postpone it now in order to deny the GOP a talking point about his latest “apology tour.”