Recent reports show an serious uptick in attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This year is “already the deadliest for American soldiers” since the war was launched in 2001, with sixty-five American casualties in the first nine months. Taliban fighters have also killed “more than 800 Afghan officials, police, troops, aid workers and civilians since March,” and the violence is “likely to intensify” before September’s elections.
The reports clearly demonstrate that Afghanistan is not the open-and-shut “success story” that conservatives often describe. Just as important, they show that the CIA was correct when it predicted earlier this year that “Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda’s early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.”
Consider this portion of the New York Times report this morning:
More money is coming in, probably from Arab countries, and a unit of Qaeda fighters has returned to [Afghanistan] from Iraq to teach local fighters an unspecified “new tactic they learned in Iraq,” one security official said, explaining that he could not be identified because of the clandestine nature of his work.
Likewise, Knight-Ridder reported on 8/17/05:
Borrowing tactics from their counterparts in Iraq, [Taliban fighters] beheaded alleged informers and staged two suicide bombings, a form of terrorism rarely seen in Afghanistan.
In other words, President Bush’s defense strategy has not only turned ‘New Iraq’ into the old Afghanstan, but is also on its way to turning the ‘New Afghanistan’ into a second, violence-torn ‘New Iraq.’