Total Taliban related deaths in Afghanistan this year will probably be close to 5,800. About half of them Taliban and a third of them civilians (ten percent by foreign troops, over 70 percent from Taliban violence). The Taliban were not able to get an offensive going this year. It was not for want of trying. Taliban (and their al Qaeda allies) attacks were up by over a third compared to last year. Most of this was because of suicide bombers and roadside bomb attacks. These mostly killed civilians, even though they were primarily aimed at foreign troops and Afghan security forces. So far this year, 268 foreign troops were killed, with about 290 expected for the entire year.If the Taliban expect to live long, they ought to consider a non-confrontational approach, like Obama's "Hope" strategy that has worked so well for him. But it's tough to hew to such a thing when you're forcing a medieval lifestyle on the people around you - people will only grovel for so long before the stick you're beating them with will be turned against you.
Last year, 7,700 people died in Taliban violence, 58 percent of them Taliban, 26 percent of them civilians (mostly from Taliban violence) and most of the rest Afghan security forces. There were 232 foreign troops killed.
In 2006, there were 4,400 dead, with about the same ratios as 2007, with 191 foreign troops killed. In 2005, when the Taliban violence began to sharply increase, there were 1,700 dead, half of them Taliban, and a higher proportion among the Afghan police and army. Foreign troops suffered 130 dead.
The Taliban declare that their primary objective is to drive foreign troops from the country. In this, they have failed in a spectacular fashion, failing to kill many of them, and being slaughtered in great numbers when they confront the foreign troops directly.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Taliban Momentum? Not so much...
We've been hearing a lot about the increasing power and success of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The media, never wanting to feed us more than we can digest, are content to distill the news into a few neutral terms like "Taliban winning" and "George Bush losing." NATO is struggling to keep the focus on the fighting of terrorism over there, but the American general David McKiernan has done an incredible job considering he's working with European intransigents who are more eager to debate than defeat terrorism. In fact, while naysayers like to chide America for hunting Taliban while the poppy crop blossoms uncontrolled, great strides have been made in that area without the help of Germany, France, Spain and Italy, who have refused to join in the operations. Right now there are 32,000 American troops under the general, with 20,000 more on their way, adding to the total of 70,000 foreign soldiers in the country. The news coming from the battle in that timeless land is good, regardless of what you read. Over at Strategy Page they've gone through some of the numbers: