The BBC Worldservice Thursday aired a report from Afghanistan. Their correspondent was taken by the Taliban for a "long drive through the desert in a convoy of new 4x4 SUV's guarded by confident men with Kalishnikovs and RPG's." The "Taliban Leader" was boasting that the locals welcomed him into the area and remarked that he could travel "anywhere day or night without even a pistol; something the Government couldn't do." The WorldService also reported that the Afghan National Army was reverting to it's corrupt, old ways of "shaking down" highway travelers at gunpoint. A Taliban leader told the BBC that trucking companies had hired the Taliban to take care of the problems with the Army. It was reported that civilian deaths from recent NATO actions are causing a backlash and another Taliban leader said that they had hundreds of volunteers for suicide attacks and warned of as many as a half-dozen martyrs striking simultaneously.
Other news reports indicate that the Taliban are settling in nicely next door in western Pakistan where they have in certain areas already formed an ad hoc government and are levying taxes on "petrol and six-month trucking permits."
Friday, it was reported that the Saudis are on elevated terror alert levels with oil facilities being the target. This reminded me of an article at I read earlier this week at Jamestown.org which warned that Islamic terrorists had determined that the Saudi Royals are not devout Muslims, are allied with America and will now be increasingly targeted.
From a the same website Michael Scheurer observes the growing crime rate in Afghanistan, the Musharraf brokered Taliban haven in Waziristan, and the traditional Afghan intolerance of foreign rule and concludes:
Overall, the increasing pace of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan suggests it is only a matter of time until the commanders of the U.S.-led coalition are faced with telling their political leaders that a decision must be made to either heavily reinforce coalition forces—it appears that more than the 120,000 men Moscow deployed to Afghanistan in the 1980s would be necessary—or begin preparations to withdraw from the country. If taken now, such a decision would be made in the context of polls showing popular opinion in Canada and Britain turning decidedly against continued participation in the Afghan war and media reports that France may begin to withdraw its special forces from Afghanistan next spring (Associated Press, October 15).
In these gloomy days, it is looking more probable that US led efforts to bring "freedom and democracy" to Iraq and Afghanistan will fail as the US public decides that the goal just isn't worth the effort.
It was a noble effort but was it doomed from the start? Was it "Mission Impossible" for the west to attempt such a change in the heart of the Islamic world? Was it a bridge too far?