Juan Cole: Kandahar: The Latest Casualty of an Invisible War





[Juan Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, maintains the blog Informed Comment. His most recent book, just out in paperback, is “Engaging the Muslim World.”]

Not only is it unclear that the U.S. and NATO are winning their war in Afghanistan, the lack of support for their effort by the Afghanistan president himself has driven the American commander to the brink of resignation. In response to complaints from his constituents, Afghanistan’s mercurial President Hamid Karzai called Sunday for American troops to scale back their military operations. The supposed ally of the U.S., who only last spring petulantly threatened to join the Taliban, astonished Washington with this new outburst, which prompted a warning from Gen. David Petraeus that the president was making Petraeus’ position “untenable,” which some speculated might be a threat to resign.

During the past two months, the U.S. military has fought a major campaign in the environs of the southern Pashtun city of Kandahar, launching night raids and attempting to push insurgents out of the orchards and farms to the east of the metropolis. Many local farmers were displaced, losing their crops in the midst of the violence, and forced to become day laborers in the slums of Kandahar. Presumably these Pashtun clans who found themselves in the crossfire between the Taliban and the U.S. put pressure on Karzai to call a halt to the operation....



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