Afghan Awful

April 16, 2012

“The other day I was listening to the radio. The Afghan minister was assassinated. I’m thinking, What threat did he pose to the Taliban? Who even wants to go to Afghanistan? His phone rings once a month.”
— Bob Newhart, quoted in Esquire, January 2009

The continuing wonderland Afghan war caught another shit-storm  this weekend when Taliban struck at targets in Kabul and three other cities in attacks described as “brazen” and “coordinated” — the now-near-pointless conflict becoming even more frightfully foolish.
Observer point of the day from an auto mechanic just after the attacks started:  “All the shops closed. I ran away.”

(Illustration found here).

Don’t blame you, buddy.
Afghanistan is not a friendly place these days — as if the poor country ever had any friends.

Reportedly, the surprise attacks came early Sunday when armed insurgents took over half-built buildings and used them to open fire while residents scrambled for cover as gunfire rained down from all directions.
Complete chaos for awhile.

Although much has been made of this incident — Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force: “…no one is underestimating the seriousness of today’s attacks” — and much noise about the always dangerous Taliban, the episode might be just an example of showing off.

Juan Cole asks why at Informed Comment this morning:

This sort of tactic makes a lot of noise, but typically has no practical benefit for a guerrilla movement.
The Sunni Arab Islamic State of Iraq has been blowing up Baghdad regularly but we’ve seen no sign of it interfering with the consolidation of power by PM Nouri al-Maliki.
Perhaps it has even backfired and created momentum for al-Maliki.
One local Afghan newspaper was left puzzling as to the purpose of these attacks, which, like those in Baghdad, likely have not hope of tactical success.
The article speculates that the Taliban are trying to keep the US boots on the ground, just as President Hamid Karzai is, so as to extract strategic rent from the ongoing Western presence in Afghanistan.
That is, some allege that the attacks in Kabul were motivated by a desire to draw the US into a longer-term occupation, so that the Taliban can be assured of having someone to fight.
(Seems unlikely to me, but interesting that it appeared in the Afghan press. And, I don’t think it would work. Most Americans, even Republicans, want out, and I think most US troops will be out by 2014…)

A new Washington PostABC News poll revealed only 30 percent of the US public believes the Afghan war is was worth fighting, the lowest level of support since at least 2007, and for the first time, the majority of warmongering Republicans want out of the country.
And from an ABC News poll last month on the impact of continous war on US troops:

Still, apart from the specific incident, there is a broad sense that the military should be doing more to track mental health — 79 percent say so — and to limit the amount of time active duty service members are deployed to combat areas, favored by an almost identical 80 percent.
Just 14 and 15 percent, respectively, think the military already is doing enough mental health monitoring and that time limits on deployments are not needed.

What can be added to that?
Except this — via The Fayetteville Observer and the living nightmares of one particular veteran:

The father of a Fort Bragg soldier charged with shooting at Fayetteville police and firefighters from his apartment in January says his son suffered from war-induced mental problems and thought he was firing at Afghan insurgents.
Staff Sgt. Joshua “Ike” Eisenhauer, 30, was wounded by police, who returned fire in the four-hour standoff at Austin Creek apartments.

Joshua Eisenhauer flashed back “to combat in Afghanistan, fired on the ‘insurgents’ who were actually firemen and police officers and was seriously injured with gunshot wounds to his upper chest, right face and right thigh,” his father says.

No police or firefighters suffered serious injuries in the exchange of gunfire.
Joshua Eisenhauer was taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where he recovered from his wounds.
He has been charged with 17 counts of attempted murder, nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and six counts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm.
At the hospital, Mark Eisenhauer wrote, a nurse in the intensive care unit told him that when his son regained some mental awareness, he mumbled “whose got the roof.”
When asked what he thought had happened, Joshua Eisenhauer was said to have responded: “I was fighting insurgents.”
The shootings happened after someone in the apartment complex reported a fire and firefighters began knocking on doors.
A neighbor reported that the shootings began after she heard firefighters asking Eisenhauer to open his door.

Welcome to the future of war in the homeland.

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