Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Insurgents Formerly Known As The Taliban

Last week I posted about the bizarre and disturbing narrative emanating from the Right which holds, in part, that the media is hyping the bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan - with many accusing the media and the Left of actively rooting for civil war in Iraq and our defeat on a larger scale. One columnist in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, Ann Marlowe, had this to say about the situation in Afghanistan (and the media's role in distorting it) [emphasis mine throughout]:

The latest news reports all seem to agree: Afghanistan is falling apart. Once again, pack journalism is trying to shape our foreign policy....Almost all of this picture is misleading...and the journalistic pack seems to be rooting for the wrong side. [...]

As for the Taliban, it's questionable whether there is an organized fundamentalist movement at all any more. The real problem (mainly in the south) is a heroin mafia whose vast fortunes depend on ensuring that the people of the poppy-growing provinces stay poor, uneducated, dependent and fearful. [...]

Saying that Afghanistan is on the verge of collapse is a prediction that could become self-fulfilling.

With this admonition in mind, it was with some interest that I turned to the article that Brian Urlich linked to on American Footprints. Some excerpts:

Taliban militants seized two towns in tumultuous southern Afghanistan, forcing police and government officials to flee, officials said Monday.

The Taliban operate freely in large areas of southern Afghanistan and police presence there often is virtually nonexistent, but insurgents only were known to have completely seized one town since their hard-line regime was toppled by U.S. forces in 2001.

The attacks came with thousands of U.S.-led troops involved in an offensive against Taliban holdouts and allied extremists in remote southern and eastern provinces to curb the deadliest upsurge in violence since the hard-line militia was ousted in late 2001.[...]

[A local government] official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the media, said Taliban forces were now "moving freely" around the Garmser and the surrounding district.

"We have heard reports of two districts in southern Helmand being under control of the Taliban, and we are in contact with lots of people to build an accurate picture," said another coalition spokesman, Maj. Scott Lundy.

Not bad work for a ragtag bunch of remnants who aren't even an "organized...movement anymore." On the other hand, would it be fair to say, under Ann Marlowe's metrics, that Maj. Scott Lundy and the anonymous Afghan official are "rooting for the wrong side"? One can never be too sure.

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