Strangely, He Didn't Mention Parents Intentionally Maiming Their Children This Time … ISAF has decided, finally, to apologize for the civilian casualties they caused in Kunar. No, not the one last month, this is a new incident: "We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologize to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions," said General David. H. Petraeus (left), Commander of International Security Assistance Force. "These deaths should have never happened and I will personally apologize to President Karzai when he returns from his trip to London this week." – Registan.Net
Dominant Social Theme: We're sorry. Fighting for democracy isn't easy.
Free-Market Analysis: This article appearing in Registan.net tells us some astonishing things about General David Petraeus. A week ago, he suggested publicly that Afghanistan parents were burning their children to exaggerate injuries they'd received at the hands of allied troops. He later corrected this perception, stating what he'd meant was that Afghan parents burned their children to discipline them. It is interesting that the report has received little coverage in the Western mainstream media. What is Registan.net? It "covers Eurasian politics and news, seeking to draw more attention to issues and news rarely covered in much depth, if at all, by Western media." Steve Magribi sends the following feedback:
This was actually the most talked about thing amongst Afghans for the past week or so. When P4 made his comment about Afghan parents the whole country went into SMS mode and it flew from cousin to cousin, province to province. ISAF may not be aware, but P4 is becoming a bit of a Mubarak/Gaddafi type villain amongst many Afghans. The comment he made struck home very hard and hurt many to the point of sheer anger. The thing about "saying sorry" is that it only works for a while. P4 lost all credibility again with his attack on Afghans parents. It really was a key moment in this war and a key moment in the myth of Petreaus here in Afghanistan. I hope they are cutting his orders very quickly. He does need to go soon.
There we have it – a turning point in the war. But Western mainstream media didn't see fit to cover it. We've entitled this article, "Dhimmitude" because it is a French term meaning "attitude of concession, surrender and appeasement towards Islamic demands." Now we don't think Petreaus has given up by any means but his whole strategy is COIN, winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Expressing this sort of frustration openly, so that it is broadcast throughout Afghanistan is a kind of surrender. Frustration is getting the better of him.
We think it has to do with the war's strategy generally. There is plenty of news about areas of Afghanistan that NATO now controls but they haven't been able to solve the main problem, which is that the Taliban can withdraw to protected pockets in Pakistan to regroup and rest. The CIA recently flooded Pakistan with black ops personnel to expand the drone attacks but this only had the unfortunate result of bringing several of these personnel into conflict with the Pakistani ISI. Now the ISI is insisting that the CIA identify those individuals who entered the country recently.
The larger strategy is questionable as well. NATO is training 300,000 army personnel and 100,000 police to take over from NATO and American troops. But these individuals come from ethnic backgrounds that are traditionally competitive with the Pashtun/Taliban. The idea that the Pashtuns' enemies are going to keep the peace is questionable in the extreme. It is a recipe for civil war. Here's some more from the article:
ISAF troops began to harass and in one case detain journalists trying to reach the area to report on it. So, clearly that's better. This might even be relieving as a break from the normal pattern: 1. Deny all wrongdoing 2. Shift the blame to someone else, whether Taliban or parents. 3. Claim to have documentary evidence that exonerates all ISAF soldiers. 4. Harass and detain journalists seeking an independent source on the event. 5. Finally, after days or weeks of investigations, admit to a lower number of dead civilians and hope the issue goes away. This pattern has taken place at least a dozen times since I first began following Afghanistan closely in 2006. If it weren't so damned predictable it would be shocking, or something. But instead, it's just expected. ISAF – and in particular General Petraeus – is really blowing it on this stuff.
We don't understand, either, what Petraeus has in mind. This is a war that will go on and on. Perhaps the idea is that eventually the Afghans themselves will take the brunt of the fighting. But building and maintaining a 400,000 man fighting force is an enormously expensive undertaking. Add to this the continued stationing of thousands of American troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq and the numbers add up quickly.
What is going on in Afghanistan is a kind of pacification based on the eventual application of overwhelming force. But Pakistan's leadership itself has made it clear that the plans America has for Afghanistan are unacceptable. Thus Pakistan will continue to sponsor the Taliban; and 40 million Pashtuns will resist the kind of sociopolitical reorganization that the West has in mind. Perhaps this is responsible for the frustration that Petraeus is evidently feeling. These are futile ideas and he doesn't seem to have any better ones.