March 10, 2002


Most Americans know that seven American soldiers and one helicopter were 
lost this past week in southeast Afghanistan when they attacked a 
stronghold of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

What may not be entirely clear, owing to the circumspection of the tame 
U.S. news media, is that the U.S. commanders of the attack made a pig's 
breakfast of it. This is from a story in Britain's INDEPENDENT:


> Some reports said Afghan commanders believed the 1,000 or so 
> US, Afghan and coalition forces had not been properly prepared 
> and that they had underestimated the size and strength of their 
> opponents.
> ... Said Mohammed Isshaq, the Gardez security chief, told The
> Washington Post: "[US commanders] made a big mistake. They went 
> ahead without making trenches, without reinforcing their 
> positions. And then they were cut off. They retreated really 
> badly."
> Khial Mohammed, another Afghan leader, said: "Our command was 
> really bad. We didn't think about all aspects."

Here's another take on it from the TIMES of India:


> But Taj Mohammad Wardak, the governor of the eastern province
> of Paktia where the fighting is taking place, said US forces 
> had miscalculated the strength of the militants holed up in the 
> rugged, snow-capped Arma Mountains south of here.
> "The Americans were underestimating them. They believed that 
> there were not that many people and they did not realise how 
> well they were supplied," he said on Tuesday in this provincial 
> capital.
> Wardak, who said he had been briefed by US forces, predicted 
> the operation to mop up al-Qaeda fighters and supporters of the 
> ousted Taliban regime would take longer than expected.
> He said al-Qaeda and Taliban forces were receiving fresh 
> supplies of men and equipment from supporters in lawless tribal 
> areas of Pakistan.

Although the quotations by the Northern Alliance commanders are from the 
WASHINGTON POST, as far as I know, the implications of these and past 
events in Afghanistan have been given little exposure in the United States. 
They are these:

(1) When U.S. troops fight the Afghans on the ground, they don't do very

(2) U.S. "intelligence" has not been very good. U.S. forces have
underestimated the strength of their enemy a number of times, and bombed
the wrong people many others. Before this attack they thought a few hundred 
bad guys were holed up in a network of bunkers. Now the Northern Alliance 
commanders say it was more like 5,000, while the Pentagon says 1,000.

(3) Those Afghan and Al-Qaeda "terrorists" are turning out to be much more 
resilient, resourceful, and fierce than the Empire thought -- not 
surprising considering that, when they were "freedom fighters," they fought 
the Soviet Army to a standstill.

(4) The Empire apparently does not believe it can leave these mopping-up
operations to their noble Northern Alliance proteges. That's because "our" 
Afghans have a way of taking U.S. money and not getting the job done -- 
witness that thousands of Taliban and al-Qaeda types have been allowed to 
escape and, in the case of Taliban troops, change sides.

So far, events seem to be following the rough outline of past imperial 
ventures in Afghanistan: an empire moves in with little trouble, takes 
over the capital and major cities, and declares victory. Then things 
start to get complicated.

For example, just to make things more interesting, several Northern 
Alliance factions have forgotten they are allies and have started 
shooting at each other in the northern part of the country. And the U.S. 
puppet prime minister, Hamid Karzai, may be finding it difficult to 
rule, if this story in the TIMES of India is any indication:


> Is a dead man the real ruler of Afghanistan? Judging by 
> photographs that adorn all government offices, most shops, car 
> windshields, and hoardings on street corners, it is certainly 
> not interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai.
> The real ruler, the face that looks out from everywhere in 
> Kabul, is Ahmad Shah Masood, a dead symbol of resistance 
> against the Soviet Union and later the Taliban.
> ... "Karzai does not have any real authority. Power is in the 
> hands of those with guns," said a senior government official. 
> "Masood followers are taking over all the important posts."
> He pointed to Defence Minister Mohammad Fahim, Interior 
> Minister Yunus Qanuni and Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, 
> all proteges of Masood and now a trio forming the backbone of 
> the interim government in Kabul.

Meanwhile, British commandos are hunting for the elusive, one-eyed Mullah 
Omar near the scene of the U.S. debacle, and nobody seems to know where the 
Evil Fiend, Osama bin Laden (remember him?), has gotten to. I seem to 
recollect that he was the reason all this started ...

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