Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Meanwhile .....
I don't have a lot to say about Bush's "surprise" visit to Afghanistan yesterday other than to note that he had an army of security, and didn't vary off the secure path much. Smart man. Well, at least his security detail is smart. Actually, given recent polls in the U.S., Afghanistan probably represented a friendly respite.

The Afghanistan/Pakistani instability is one of those stories that is quite important. And yet, with so much else going wrong with U.S. policy, it's gets little attention. The Taliban and al Qaeda are simply being patient and slowly, but surely, reestablishing themselves to destabilize Pakistan and take over Afghanistan:
According to late-night news reports caught by a few of the papers, there were two near-simultaneous bombs exploded next to the U.S. consulate in Karachi, killing four people and injuring about 20. Speaking early this morning in India, President Bush said one U.S. diplomat was killed.


The president, of course, also made a surprise swing by Afghanistan, where, as the NYT fronts, nowadays the Taliban are doing brisk business in the south. In the last year, they've closed about 200 schools "through threats and burnings" and killed "dozens of government officials."
Let's not forget that Bush yesterday christened the new U.S. embassy in Kabul identifying it as a symbol of our permanent committment to Afghanistan. And, by the way, also identifying it as a plum of a target for the Taliban. Kinda a "bring it on" challenge.

As has been the case since the ending of the "war" in Afghanistan, "President" Karzi is essentially the mayor of Kabul, with the rest of the country under the control of various militias, tribal leaders, and insurgents. Bin Laden still moves about with impunity. The opium crop is a bumper one this year and represents the vast majority of Afghanistan's economy.

Once the U.S. leaves, and it will leave, it will be up to the international community to step up. I fear the investment necessary to change the dynamics in the region are enormous and over a very long time frame. Until then, it continues to be a "nest" for "terraists".