Max Boot: The Taliban Are Too Weak for a Tet OffensiveRoundup: Historians' Take
Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present, out next January by Norton.
The Tet Offensive it wasn't. On Sunday, insurgents belonging to the Haqqani network attacked seven high-profile sites in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. The Afghan National Security Forces responded swiftly and professionally with minimal assistance from NATO. Far more insurgents wound up dying (36) than members of the security forces (11). Life in the capital has already returned to normal. When I was there a few weeks ago, I saw a thriving city where the biggest daily concerns are traffic jams and air pollution—not insurgent attacks.
The failure of this insurgent assault bodes well for Afghanistan's future—and runs counter to the doom-and-gloom in the U.S. The Taliban, Haqqanis and associated insurgents continue to enjoy safe havens in Pakistan, but the only way they will shoot their way back into power is if we abandon the vast majority of Afghans who have no desire to be ruled by ignorant, medieval tyrants.
Significant progress has been made in recent weeks in negotiating a long-term U.S.-Afghan security accord that the Obama administration hopes to unveil at the NATO summit in Chicago next month. The two most contentious issues—"night raids" and the detention of Taliban prisoners by the U.S. military—were resolved by giving Afghan authorities more control while allowing essential operations to continue.
The bad news—and the reason so many well-to-do Afghans are talking of selling homes and businesses and moving abroad—is that there remain major concerns about how much support the U.S. will provide for Afghanistan when 70% of the American public has turned against the war.
The White House can take three specific steps to make clear the depth of our commitment...
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