Britain should start withdrawing, not reinforcing, its troops in Afghanistan. Sending extra troops is unnecessary and will prove counter-effective. The additional number of British troops is small, but the US is poised to send tens of thousands more soldiers to the country. The nature of the conflict is changing. What should be a war in which the Afghan government
fights the Taliban has become one which is being fought primarily by the American and British armies. To more and more Afghans, this looks like imperial occupation.
With regard to disputes in Washington and London about sending more troops, it is seldom mentioned that Afghans are against the deployment. Contrary to Western plans, just 18 per cent of Afghans want more US and Nato/Isaf forces in Afghanistan, according to an opinion poll carried out earlier this year by the BBC, ABC News and ARD of Germany. A much greater number of Afghans – 44 per cent – want a decrease in foreign forces.
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the Taliban have been able to win some support. The cruelty of their rule before 2001 is becoming a distant memory and they are successfully portraying themselves as the defender of the country against foreign occupation. Matthew P Hoh, the senior American civilian representative in Zabul Province east of Kandahar, resigned last week convinced that the US military should not be in Afghanistan. As a former US marine officer who served in Iraq, he says in his resignation letter that the US has joined in on one side in a 35-year-old civil war between the traditional Pashtun community and its enemies. “The US military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency,” he says. “Our backing of the Afghan government in its current form continues to distance the government from the people.” [continued…]