Between all the saber-rattling at Iran and Bush's various speeches trying to tie the tragedy of September 11 to his failed war in Iraq, you may not have noticed that the situation in Afghanistan is going to hell. Again.
According to The Washington Post, Gen. James L. Jones, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants "2,000 plus" more troops. "Some 20,000 NATO soldiers and a similar number of U.S. forces are in Afghanistan trying to crush the emboldened Taliban insurgency," The Post reports.
In an earlier report, The Post said that Afghanistan's opium crop is up 59 percent this year. They produced 6,100 tons of opium -- enough to make 610 tons of heroin, which, according to the article, would outstrip demand.
Apparently the record opium crop and the resurgent Taliban are both in the southern provinces.
Of course, Bush is still talking about how successful he was in Afghanistan. The Post says:
After the attacks, his "new doctrine" of holding nations harboring or supporting terrorists responsible had allowed the removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and the installation of a democratic government, Bush said.Somebody better tell the man the Taliban is back. And oh, by the way, Afghanistan's economy is based on heroin and the "democratic government" is hanging by a thread.
Juan Cole summarizes all this very well and brings up an additional point: A peaceful Afghanistan is important on the oil front. He writes:
Afghanistan is especially important to Washington because it is the only plausible way to bring natural gas down from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. The Turkmenistan alternative is being used to push Delhi away from any flirtation with an Iranian pipeline.So the failed war in Iraq distracted us from Afghanistan, not only allowing the Taliban to come back and forcing the country back to its most traditional industry -- heroin -- but also making sure that we can't even make strategic use of Afghanistan for oil purposes.
If India and China want to deal with Iran for oil, they're certainly not going to sanction them or support a Bush escapade there.
I see a "domino theory" here -- that is, one stupid decision creates ten more problems. And, of course, Bush has made more than one stupid decision. Doesn't anyone in this administration know anything about strategy?