Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Afghanistan: What's Behind a Seemingly Unwinnable War?

Many on both sides of the Atlantic are saying the Afghan conflict—which has already lasted twice as long as World War I—is unwinnable. Why are the allies finding it so difficult to win this war in a backward third world country?

July 2009 turned out to be the worst month of the Afghan conflict for both British and American fatalities. For the British, who have the second-highest number of troops serving in the country, the death toll in Afghanistan has now surpassed the total lost in Iraq.

Proportionate to population, Britain, Canada, Denmark and Estonia have each lost more men there than the United States. Understandably, the war is increasingly controversial, with opposition at home mounting. The Netherlands is withdrawing troops next year, with Canada leaving in 2011.

"The graveyard of empires"

Ironically, the month of the highest number of British casualties coincided with the 200th anniversary of Britain's first involvement with the country of Afghanistan.

"In 1809 a (British) diplomat named Mountstuart Elphinstone led Britain's first fact-finding mission to Afghanistan. In a land filled with strife and [divided] by independent factions, he met an elderly tribal leader and tried to convince him of the benefits of a firm central government.
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