Sunday, October 28, 2007
Do you know the war against al-Qaida in Aghanistan is going? We hear the name of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, so often it's nearly a cliche, and we hear about the lawless mountainous region on the 500-mile border between Pakistan and Aghanistan so often that's almost a cliche, too. U.S. forces drive out the Taliban, the Taliban return. Today, we hear that U.S. and Afghan forces have won a series of battles around the town of Musa Qala and retaken the area from the Taliban. The area, in Helmand province, is the world's largest poppy-growing region and the front line of Afghanistan's bloodiest fighting this year, according to Newsday in New York, where I worked more than 25 years ago. Most of the Western troops in Helmand are British, although U.S. Special Forces also operate there. But how is the wider war going? Are the Taliban about to collapse? Are more troops needed? How much authority and over how much area does the government have? Is there another surge coming?