Thursday, February 26, 2009

More troops won't help

Veteran reporter Pamela Constable reports from Kabul:

Image Problem in Afghanistan
Growing Public Hostility to Troops May Hurt U.S. Surge Plans

By Pamela Constable - Washington Post

KABUL, Feb. 21 - The additional 17,000 troops the Obama administration is preparing to send to Afghanistan will face both an aggressive, well-armed Taliban insurgency and an unarmed but equally daunting foe: public opinion.

In more than a dozen interviews across the capital this week, Afghans said that instead of helping to defeat the insurgents and quell the violence that has engulfed their country, more foreign troops will exacerbate the problem...

"Bringing in another foreign army is not going to help. They always come here for their own interests, and they always lose. Better to let everyone sit down with the elders and find a way for peace," said Ibrahim Khan, 40, a cargo truck driver from Paktia province...

Many this week recounted experiencing, or hearing from relatives, incidents in which foreign troops stormed at night into houses where women and children were present, arrested innocent farmers as suspected insurgents and forced trucks off highways.

"I was driving on the road from Jalalabad last month, and an American military convoy came from the other direction," recalled Mahmad Humayun, who has a small shop that sells women's garments.

"They started flashing their lights at us to slow down, and then they started firing their guns at the road in front of us. This is our country, and these are our roads," he said angrily. "Don't we have the right to drive in peace?" ...

Most of the Afghans interviewed said they would prefer a negotiated settlement with the insurgents to an intensified military campaign. Several pointed out that the Taliban fighters are fellow Afghans and Muslims, and that the country has traditionally settled conflicts through community and tribal meetings... (link)

No comments: