Thursday, July 9, 2009

When Meeting Expectations is Not Good

The past couple of days have been quite violent in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but perhaps (hopefully?) for different reasons.

Attacks may be accelerating in Iraq, although it is too soon to tell. This is probably a response to the withdrawal of the US forces from the cities, as the various sides test each other as well as trying to determine what it will take for the Americans to return.

In Afghanistan, the increase in violence was also predicted, but not due to the absence of American forces but as a result of a surge of them. The US forces are now larger and pushing out, contesting places where the Taliban had grown comfortable. I surprised my student when I informed her that Helmand was the most violent province, not Kandahar, even before the latest events, as it is the site of much of the poppy growing. The British have been responsible for this hunk of Afghanistan, and have faced a long, tough fight with not enough resources. Perhaps this new effort will have a more lasting impact, but as I mentioned yesterday, if there are few Afghans working for the government (army, police, etc.), then the effect of today's battles are likely to be temporary at best.

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