In Afghanistan, Waiting for Gen. McChrystal's 'Government in a Box'

Monday, February 15, 2010

U.S. and Afghan servicemen pay a visit to the newly-built Company Operation Base (COB) in the northeast of Marjah on February 14, 2010. (Getty Images)

Allied forces continue to fight in Marjah, Afghanistan as they attempt to clear hundreds of Taliban fighters out of the region.  But what happens once the offensive is over? 

According to Gen. Stanley McChrystal there is a strategy in place to transition from fighting to stability. He said recently, “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in.”  However, questions remain as to how willing low-level Taliban fighters will be to give up their guns and participate in local government and civil life.  For more we hear from New York Times' correspondent, Rod Nordland, who is in Afghanistan.


Rod Nordland

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Comments [1]

Nikos Retsos from Chicago, Illinois

General McChystal may have "a government in a box" to drop in Marjah, but he is unable to understand that he
has just opened a Pandora's Box there. In the surface it may look like a win in the short term. But he is actually back to square one. 12 Afghan civilians dead from a U.S. missile strike, and NAto express "regrets!" And after all the assurances that the U.S. must win the hearts and minds of the Afghans, we started again doing exactly what we have been doing in Afghanistan for the last 9 years. And, to add insult to injury, the British military chief Jock Stirrup said "Afghan civilian deaths are inevitable!" (BBC News, Feb. 15, 2010) But the fact of the matter is that missile air-strikes by U.S. aircraft and Predator drones have caused thousands of civilian deaths in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they have raised the level of hostility against the U.S. to such a degree that has made the failure of our mission to Afghanistan inevitable.

The U.S., however, tries to win the war by having U.S. commanders promising Afghan civilians aid, reconstruction and protection, but when Afghan civilians die, they have NATO to take the blame and express regrets. NATO is, therefore, becoming the fig leaf of whatever goes wrong under the U.S. command in Afghanistan, and the U.S. naively believes that unloading all the blame for civilian deaths to NATO, the U.S. can avoid the guilt, and convince the Afghans villagers that they are there to do good for them. But an Al Jazeera reporter present at a meeting between a U.S. commander and village elders on Feb. 12, 2010, reported that "the Afghan elders complained about arbitrary arrests of villagers and civilian killings." And after the killing of the 12 Afghan civilians, and the arrest of hundreds of suspects - something that is not reported in the media, the U.S. forces definitely are not welcomed in the Afghan countryside.

Then, there is the other side of the Afghan war that doesn't see the headlines in the West. When the U.S. forces report that they had killed "dozens of Taliban," for example, many of those dead are actually civilians. In many occasions where the U.S. claimed to have killed Taliban, local governors and the United Nations have confirmed civilian deaths - including women and children. The U.S., therefore, may fool Western audiences, but it cannot fool Afghan villagers! Sir Jock Stirrup is, therefore, correct: "Afghan civilian deaths are inevitable." But that also will make out failure in Afghanistan inevitable. U.S. General David Petraeus said testifying before the U.S. Congress: "We cannot kill our way to victory in Afghanistan." Absolutely! But killing civilians and expressing "regrets" 9 years in a row will not lead us to victory either! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Feb. 15 2010 09:12 AM

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