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Can the Taliban be defeated?

13:08 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010

British troops targeting a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan have entered the town of Saidabad. Is the fresh offensive a good idea?

The forces have been trying to clear the insurgent stronghold in central Helmand for the last four days, as part of Operation Tor Shezada.

The military have stressed that they still have a long way to go and roads into the town have not yet been cleared of improvised explosive devices.

As many as 180 insurgents are believed to use the town as a base.

Are you in Afghanistan? Can this troop offensive eradicate the Taliban? Will the operation lead to better security in the region? Is a troop offensive against insurgents the right strategy?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    It won't eradicate the Taliban per se, but may well remove them from the area. If this happens then security in the area will be improved. The insurgents will be denied assets in that area, and will therefore be less able to carry out attacks.

    As for the strategy, if limiting civilian casualties is the aim, then the strategy is right. Counter insurgency is never an easy battle, especially where the insurgents use civilians as human shields.

    Unfortunately for the troops on the ground, there may well be casualties.

  • Comment number 3.

    They may succede in quietening the Taliban, but following recent announcements by the UK & US leadership the Taliban know they just have to sit tight until 2015 when our troops are getting pulled out. I see no change to Afghanistan until they decide to stand on their own 2 feet regarding security. The announcement of this fresh offensive is just to prepare the public for yet more troop fatalities.

    It's disgusting that the government are trying to force the MoD to hand over more than half their budget for the Trident refit, this will just ensure the troops REALLY don't have enough equipment to do their jobs properly. This government are proving they have no respect for the men & women willing to sacrifice it all for their petty political agendas.

  • Comment number 4.

    We can win. If we fight how the taliban fight. Fight hard and dont worry about un conventions. And dont tell them our exit date! Might as well just surrender now and forget 2014.

  • Comment number 5.

    People can be defeated, but a fundamentalist idea cannot. There will always be those willing to take advantage of true believers and get them commit acts of terrorism in the name of their god.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can the Taliban be defeated?

    You can't defeat an ideology.

    Until you can stop afghans wanting to live under a strict sharia religous government then the spirit of the taliban will live on.

  • Comment number 8.

    The origins of the Taliban are very important as i believe they are the key to winning a victory against them, n the early 1980s, the CIA and the ISI (Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency) provided arms and money and the ISI helped gather radical Muslims from around the world to fight against the soviets the refugees from the soviet occupied afghanistan went to madrassas in Pakistan and that is where the origins of the taliban are. destroying all of the taliban in afghanistan is going to achieve nothing without the cooperation of the pakistan government and the closing of those madrass's and the fanatical leaders being rounded up.

  • Comment number 9.

    Any enemy can be defeated - the question is, how long can the public, and more importantly the government who send us there, stomach it?

    If the government have no intentions of seeing this through, until we alongside our allies achieve a complete victory, they shouldnt send another man out.

    However, October is coming..and more will be heading out..

  • Comment number 10.

    A new offensive against the taliban could be a good idea so long as it is based on good intelligence, not the sort given to Governments prior to the invasion of Iraq.
    I sincerely hope the British troops are very vigilant during this operation.
    It is always going to be an uphill struggle fighting an invisible enemy!
    Ask the Russians.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am not in Afghanistan and yet wish to comment on this topic. The NATO, the UN, the UK and all the nations fighting the Taliban cannot win any war there. War is violence and as such can never archive anything. The Taliban must be respected and call to sit down for dialogue. We do hear often that the Taliban is weaken because their head is killed or places bombed. The killings of civilians, poor old people and children by NATO cannot solve anything and cannot defeat the Taliban. Was the NATO formed for this carnage?

  • Comment number 12.

    Why does the BBC bother asking the question when it never reports a single Taliban death or allied military victory? If I want to find out whether our troops are winning or not I need to go to New Zealand and Canadian news pages. You should rename yourself the TBC... Taliban Broadcasting Corporation as you're the best propaganda they could wish for.

    Lucky your current editorial team weren't around in 1940 'Today the Luftwaffe shot down 45 RAF fighters and bombed London. We won't mention any enemy losses at all implying that there have been none'

    We'd have surrendered in days!

  • Comment number 13.

    Of course the Taliban can be defeated but of course you get comments from people on here and other message boards, trying to convince the public of western countries with troops over there and other countries, that they can not. Why do you think that might be huh? United we stand ...

  • Comment number 14.

    #3 "It's disgusting that the government are trying to force the MoD to hand over more than half their budget for the Trident refit, this will just ensure the troops REALLY don't have enough equipment to do their jobs properly. This government are proving they have no respect for the men & women willing to sacrifice it all for their petty political agendas"

    Frankly this topic is more worthy of respect. Personally when I heard the news I thought it was a clever way for the Tories to not have to pay for Trident without breaking their 'commitment to keeping it' which is clearly a lie.

    More frightening was that they also talked about grounding the entire RAF Tornado fleet to save £7bn a year (leaving us a handful of harriers- a 50 year old design and Eurofighters- great is waves of Russian bombers head our way). Its the same logic that says 'if we stop treating any patients the NHS can save £100bn'. Whats the point of an airforce with no planes?

  • Comment number 15.

    Defeating an insurgency is a political and military operation.
    The West is backing a government seen by most Afghanis as corrupt and self-serving and which fixed the last election in its favour.
    A large number of Afghanis are not Taliban supporters but are supporting the fight against the Western forces who are seen as occupiers.
    Pakistan has influence with the Taliban(their leaders hide out in the Pakistan Tribal Areas) and have to put pressure on them to negotiate. However the Taliban think they are winning. Western leaders are talking about pulling out. The Taliban have about 28,000 effectives who are giving 250,000 Western troops the run around. In the hill country, a Lee-Enfield .303 in experienced hands is as lethal as all the high-tech weaponry in the West's arsenal.
    Unless the West can get the Afghanis onside, it'sa rerun of the US''s '70s experience in Vietname and the Soviets '80s experience in Adghanistan.

  • Comment number 16.

    The Taliban can be defeated, but it will require a multifaceted approach to do so. In addition to strategic military strikes, the global community needs to invest in Afghanistan by helping with the building of schools and infrastructure. Insist that there be no gender discrimination in the use of aid funds. Vast mineral desposits have been discovered in Afghanistan and development of a mining industry can be a big boon to the economy and stability.

    The US government is now requiring top military leaders to read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. The book details Mortenson's work building schools in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mortenson is a huge advocate of girls' education and believes that educating girls is the key to defeating extremism.

  • Comment number 17.

    The Taliban cannot be defeated any more than the Germans could defeat the French in 1940 to 45. The German troops carried out atrocities just as NATO troops do but that only energises the sons, brothers and fathers of those who are killed. That energy is directed at the occupying force and only by negotiating a withdrawal them can our men leave with dignity.
    The war is already lost.

  • Comment number 18.

    There is an inexhaustible supply of Tabliban, so the answer is No.

    We should be coming home.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why on earth are we doing this debate again. The same old same old, come on BBC you are supposed to be non politically biased, yet if I did not know any better, you seem to be on the side of Taliban. I don’t pay my TV license for the BBC to take cheap shots at our soldiers on the ground.

    The Taliban can be completely annihilated as well as every civilian in Afghanistan but that is not the political objective and you know it. If you want the answer to the question you are asking then I suggest you seek an audience with the Prime Minister.

    The soldiers in Afghanistan are fighting with two hands behind their backs due to the Rules of Engagement. The Rules of Engagement are set by the prime minister. If the military commander on the ground feels that they are not adequate then he can ask for an “Stiffer” set of rules, but as often they are denied.

  • Comment number 20.

    Less involvement, likely much less involvement is the way forward. Nine years was more than enough time for this adventure. Obama made a bad call on the 30k troop surge and should have sacked his general months earlier as they did not agree on strategy.

  • Comment number 21.

    Events have shown that the Taliban can never be eradicated, so whatever 'solution' comes out of the current conflict in Afghanistan/Pakistan, they will have to be involved in some way. The word 'defeat' is not in their dictionary. We must start to deal with them and I am presuming that current military operations are aimed at achieving as advantageous a military position as possible before that process gets underway.

  • Comment number 22.

    If the Taliban are to be defeated it will be from within the Afghan and Pakistani communities, not by Western conventional armies. I despair at the politicians (and senior military figures) who pretend otherwise while sacrificing the lives of our brave troops. Most of us can see plainly that our policies in Afghanistan are misguided and doomed to failure.
    I want Britain to have strong security forces, able to defend us from real, recognisable threats. And as much as anyone I want to stop terrorism and the dangers of militant Islamism. But this is not the way to do it.

  • Comment number 23.

    We lose soldiers almost daily now & come out bloodied & yet go for more punishment: something is not quite right in our psychology.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dont be daft, like in sangin now, the army is fighting Afghans born and bred, not an insurgency, the insurgency is the US and UK forces, they are fighting and killing afghan civilians who are being forced to fight for their lives! Worse still is that the US marines are aware of this and the UK is no longer answerable to the UK government or its people but answers to the US administration.

  • Comment number 25.

    There's no point in trying to defeat the Taliban in an area until there are enough Afgan troops to hold the ground. As well as giving them a 40% aid increase for reconstruction we should be funding groups with values that are closer to ours than the Talibans and getting them to hold the ground for us. If a group will allow girls to be educated and women to walk around without wearing a burka that is as close to freedom as they will ever get.
    Chances are that some of our soldiers will die in this mission and for their sacrifice to be worth it in any way there needs to be a strong enough force left there to hold the Taliban back for ever.
    We should also buy whatever the local farmers are growing to sell back to the population at a loss. If it's poppies, buy them and burn them so the farmers don't rely on the Taliban for income

  • Comment number 26.

    yes they can.

    full id cards will crush them. eyes scanned & fingerprints. everyone asked for id cards 24/7 / hills / on the streets / everywhere.

    i relay think this was is 85% won.

    its just a matter of the Pakistan border.
    send all troops there asking for all id cards setting up traps.

    i fill like this war is all over. it is soon. 4 years tops. need a good gov but

  • Comment number 27.

    Now that these idiots have jeopardized the Afghans working for NATO you can forget about defeating the Taliban.
    This is the beginning of the end of a corrupt afghan government, while empowering the Taliban and their belief in their cause.
    you idiots

  • Comment number 28.

    Truth is if they had a vote right now in that country the taliban would win hands down, time for the occupiers to get out before they cause more damage and more war crimes!

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    No they cant be defeated, when all people has is to fight for what they believe in then generation after generation will sign up. I can see this ongoing for the next 30 yrs, like the majority out there i feel for the soldiers we have sent, fighting a losing battle and dying as a result of it. I however do not watch the daily reports on the news on this so called war on terrorism and tend to turn over, purley as their is no shock value any more it has become the norm...sadly ! unless blow the middle east off the planet then this will continue like it has done from day of the crusades.

    at least the americans will get the oil they so greatly wanted

  • Comment number 31.

    For the simple reason that Taliban is not a nation or a stateless Un recognized body ,Taliban csn't be defeated like any other nation at war.

  • Comment number 32.

    Can the Taliban be defeated?
    Can pigs fly?
    Can rocks float?
    Can Conrad Black be honest?
    Can politicians give a straight answer, ever?
    Can the Western soldiers be so committed to their cause as to blow themselves up for their country or beliefs?
    Can Western generals learn from their mistakes and racist analysis when invading small and defenseless countries?
    Can a large, bulky, parasitical army defeat the mobile, small, invisible Afghan resistance?
    Can the NATO army actually identify their enemies?
    Can the NATO generals and Western politicians be ever brought to justice for the killing of civilians, the indiscriminate bombings and the wanton destruction caused in Afghanistan?
    Can the level of Western hypocrisy and rhetoric about democracy, Christian values, human rights, respect for the Law...etc be ever matched by their invasions, assassination plots, torture, illegal renderings, plundering and outright thievery?

    Nooooooooooooo

  • Comment number 33.

    Oldowen what atrocities? Thats a bit of a traitors accusation.

  • Comment number 34.

    Peter_Sym wrote:
    Why does the BBC bother asking the question when it never reports a single Taliban death or allied military victory?


    Pakistani Taliban leader 'killed'
    Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8188859.stm


    Taliban chief and helper 'die making bomb' in Pakistan
    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10725813


    Pakistan drone attack kills six 'militants'
    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10443538


    Your posts are becoming increasingly reminiscent of a certain Topsy Turvey poster we used to get on here...

  • Comment number 35.

    Our forces are still using first world war tactics, blow a whistle and send them over the top (foot patrols, get it), until a way has been devised to allay the risk whilst on foot patrol, it should be stopped. As for winning, we have a civilised army, they're a bunch of barbaric tribesmen and killing doesn't mean anything to them, it's a way of life to them. Our troops I'm sure know all the dangers of being a soldier, when they sign up, they know they could at some time go into battle. This is a form of peace keeping where they are fair ground targets, I'm, sure they didn't sign up for that. To summarise, we shouldn't be there trying to change barbarians way of life, it's their country, let them bring themselves into the 21st century, time to make an honourable withdrawal unless we want to stay there for evermore.

  • Comment number 36.

    No.

    They're not a singular entity like USA, UK or France, they are a collective of rebels fighting for a cause against an established power, they have no rules of engagement, no military protocol. Their objectives and beliefs are all considered personal, unlike the military whose soldiers are generally taught to set their personal feelings aside in order to get the mission done.

    Trying to take out the Taliban would be like trying to wipe out every single fly in the world, in order to get them all you would have to demolish everything in site to be sure. I do not for a second believe our government is naive to think they can stop the Taliban dead, they no it is futile to persist, but so long as they have an excuse like the Taliban or Al-Qaeda then they have to warrant to go into the middle-east (on tax payers money if course) to dig for oil.

  • Comment number 37.

    Coalition troops attack Taliban
    Innocent civilians get killed in the cross fire
    Families and friends of dead civilians then become radicalised
    Radicalised civilians join the Taliban
    Taliban attacks Coalition troops
    Back to top...

  • Comment number 38.

    Surely the only way to defeat the Taliban is to either indoctrinate them in other ways (i.e 'win hearts and minds' - yeuch) or slaughter every last one of them? Seeing as they and many non-Taliban Afghans probably hate the coalition forces as much as the Russian invaders before them due to the number of civilian deaths & the fact they've been invaded in the first place on questionable grounds, then option 1 is probably not going to work (it's clearly not working yet). Option 2 was tried in the early 1940s and also didn't work (thankfully).

  • Comment number 39.

    VP Joe Biden said in a recent interview the goal of this war was to get rid of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan=Pakistan border. He specifically mentioned that the goal was NOT nation building.

    Taking into context Biden's interview, and assuming the BBC represents the UK government's view,
    1.Can this troop offensive eradicate the Taliban?
    It is not the US's goal to eradicate the Taliban. They want to eradicate Al-Qaeda.

    2.Will the operation lead to better security in the region?
    Again this is not the US goal. They want to eradicate Al-Qaeda.

    3.Is a troop offensive against insurgents the right strategy?
    If you take insurgents to mean Al-Qaeda, by US goal, yes. If you mean Taliban, by US goal, no.

    No wonder this war is a mess. USA and UK are pursuing different goals. Again I ask, what is this war about?

  • Comment number 40.

    The offensive will probably clear out the Taliban but the insurgents will melt away. It seems that their tactics is to pull back, regroup and then start their campaign of intimidating, assassinations and attacks on Afghan and NATO troops.

    So far it has proved mostly successful for the Taliban and I feel that the British will find it hard to hold onto it. That recent BBC report Ian Pannell did said that the residents of Nad-e-Ali rather have the Taliban in power.

  • Comment number 41.

    Maybe you should ask can religious ideology extremism in Northern Ireland be defeated...clearly the answer is no ..so how come Britain politicians think the Taliban can be militarily defeated..Hairy Kiore

  • Comment number 42.

    NO 10, your comment regarding intelligence given before the Iraq invasion is nonsense. The weapons inspectors were not allowed to complete their investigations before Blair went to war. Have you not followed the Chilcott enquiry?

  • Comment number 43.

    The strategy is not about eradicating the taliban from Afghanistan; we're definitely not trying to eradicate their misguided/errant citizens. Infact, the present troop-offensive (part of the new strategy) is to keep teaching/revising the lesson to the Taliban, including the insurgents insurgents, on the senselessness/futility of the terrorism being perpetrated by them.

  • Comment number 44.

    Keep this question open for another few hundred years the answer is NO as soon as you leave the area they are back and anyway its nothing to do with us , our senior partner wants to run the show tell us how its done ( not ) ; get troops out quick before there is one hell of a massacre

  • Comment number 45.

    37. At 4:58pm on 30 Jul 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    Coalition troops attack Taliban
    Innocent civilians get killed in the cross fire
    Families and friends of dead civilians then become radicalised
    Radicalised civilians join the Taliban
    Taliban attacks Coalition troops
    Back to top...

    ................................................................

    Exactly, so doesn't that pose the question: Why are we really in Afghanistan?

  • Comment number 46.

    It is not clear, I feel, that we are still fighting an entity known as the Taliban. From what I have been able to gather, we are mostly fighting people who don't want us on their land as they did NOT ask for our assistance.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is the profound concern that the NATO strategy of using conventional tactics to sieze geography from the enemy will eventually result in a situation similar to that which occurred in Viet Nam against the Viet Cong. The fact that there is no geographically clearly demarcated enemy nation, and the insurgents are seen as being Afghans, creating a false perception as to the amount and depth of external support that the Taliban actually get. Unless the prevailing strategy moves more strongly towards that defined by McChrystal and Petraeus the continued reliance on conventional warfare tactics will lead to an extremely costly long term disaster. One cannot rely on siezing and holding territory unless one can assure continued and solid occupation and defense of all seized territory, which becomes impossibly challenged by the limiation on, and the growing dispersion of what become locked in place resouces coming under siege from areas as yet unoccupied.

  • Comment number 48.

    39. At 5:00pm on 30 Jul 2010, Jeff Phua wrote:

    VP Joe Biden said in a recent interview the goal of this war was to get rid of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan=Pakistan border. He specifically mentioned that the goal was NOT nation building.

    Taking into context Biden's interview, and assuming the BBC represents the UK government's view,
    1.Can this troop offensive eradicate the Taliban?
    It is not the US's goal to eradicate the Taliban. They want to eradicate Al-Qaeda.

    2.Will the operation lead to better security in the region?
    Again this is not the US goal. They want to eradicate Al-Qaeda.

    3.Is a troop offensive against insurgents the right strategy?
    If you take insurgents to mean Al-Qaeda, by US goal, yes. If you mean Taliban, by US goal, no.

    No wonder this war is a mess. USA and UK are pursuing different goals. Again I ask, what is this war about?

    ...........................................................

    You make a very clever point, WWI was less ambiguous, and was solved quicker too.

  • Comment number 49.

    37. At 4:58pm on 30 Jul 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    "Coalition troops attack Taliban
    Innocent civilians get killed in the cross fire
    Families and friends of dead civilians then become radicalised
    Radicalised civilians join the Taliban
    Taliban attacks Coalition troops
    Back to top..."

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On that, we are in complete agreement! Well written! Bravo!

  • Comment number 50.

    This offensive is bound to succeed, just like the others did. So we will have a few weeks hearing the generals and politicians predicting success, and then the deaths of British soldiers, and God knows how many wounded, until another bright idea for another offensive is touted. Come on, time to come home and root out the insurgents in this country.

  • Comment number 51.

    Simple answer.

    Was Nazism defeated.

    Not in totality, pockets still exist today around the world, but the core military and civillians was damaged at a high price beyond which it could sustain. Hence, that of nazism which still exists, is presently no more dangerous or lethal than a kitten.

    The thing with modern times, is that we are not prepared to carry out the attrocious acts which enable such defeat of an enemy as is the reality of war history. Hence, presently, NO the Taleban cannot and will not be defeated by our troops.

    I personally believe that once the Afgan army is fully trained and armed, and our forces leave Afganistan, the new Afgan army will act far beyond what we will accept of our own forces. At such a time and in such conditions, the Taleban can be defeated.

    War is not won via school playground tactics of no biting, no pulling hair, no using dirty tricks etc.

    In any sense/reality, war is an ugly business, it has basically been "prettied up" and given a little wash down with liberalist humanitarian wet wipes, but essentially and factually, the dirt is totally ingrained and no matter how hard you wipe, or wash/scrub, you will NEVER make it clean.

  • Comment number 52.

    I've lived in the ME since 1977 and thus know the mindset. The Taliban once defeated mighty Russia and will do the same with the Alliance. Absolute cutting edge technology will once again fail against the basic Kalashnikov, the Nissan pickup and the dedicated fighters.

    When we finally withdraw, having gained absolutely nothing, the Afghan military and Government infiltrators will emerge and the Taliban will take over where they left off - again, just another delay of 10 yrs or so.

    It doesn't matter to them, they can and will fight for ever. The warmongers (B&B) should be on trial instead of making millions. Al Qaida moves to wherever it needs to go and will move back in to Afghanistan just as quick as it moved out after the invasion.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Of course not. If an army occupied our country I am sure a lot of us would oppose it, and support the guerilla army, irrespective of what views they held.
    The French resistance for example opposed the Nazi's, a lot of them had different views on how France should be run after the war, but they had a common purpose which was to oppose the occupying force. The same mentality exists in Afganistan. The locals may seem friendly enough but at the end of the day they want the foreign troops out.

  • Comment number 55.

    Can the Taliban be defeated?

    Depends, if we didn't tie the hands of our troops and those in command with pointless human rights obligations in the theater of war then, yes we could defeat the Taliban! In fact Afghan commanders in the Northern parts of Afghanistan have expressed frustration at the allied forces unwillingness/inability to engage the Taliban.

    As it happens this war will be long and drawn out, more innocent civilians will perish at the hands of extremists who use casual violence as a substitute for reason. Meanwhile, naive liberals will cheer them on from the sidelines insulated from the real world by their ivory towers and asinine logic.

  • Comment number 56.

    The first item to be defeated must surely be a 7th century mindset. This seems impossible,considering that Afghanistan has only a 15% lieracy rate.The believers will be extremely difficult to convince. We may have to wait decades for a true democracy and a flood of free thinkers,Afghan thinkers,of course!

  • Comment number 57.

    Why do we want to defeat the Taliban? We were funding them in the 80s, as they fought against the Soviets ('bogeyman' of the era).

    So, common sense should break out. Leave them alone to govern their won country the way they want to. They pose no threat to us. Certainly we had more bombings during the Troubles, year on year, than we've had recently.

  • Comment number 58.

    It depends what you want to achieve. We don't yet have the technology to fight a guerrilla war that is some years off. So we cannot win through technology at this time though there are drones that are forerunners of things to come. We could become worse than the Taliban and slaughter our way to victory but who wants that as it dehumanizes us. We could drop nukes and destroy the whole place, but that is a ridiculous option, as we want the Afghani people to have their place in the World. We could withdraw and build a wall like they have in Palestine and keep the Taliban behind it and let them destroy themselves but it will be the women who will suffer the most. There is no real military option that is satisfactory to all people. The only way to win is through Hearts and Minds. It will take years and years but it can be done if we have the right people on the ground, but I don't have any idea who they would be. The only thing that stands out is keep religion out of the whole sorry business. However when we do pull out the women will be slaughtered by the Taliban and other religious nutters and the whole area will be a blood bath. Finally you all know who will be blamed for it, Yes got it in one the West. We should pull out of all conflicts anywhere in the world and not take sides and only raise our heads when the combatants are exhausted.

  • Comment number 59.

    Not with those American idiots running loose in their backyard.

  • Comment number 60.

    Here Here - I totally agree with Comment 12 from Peter Sym

    The BBC are strategically un-British and totally anti-American. It never ceases to disappoint me that the BBC don't stand up for the UK and its commitments to its troops and allies. Cant think why - maybe its worth looking a little deeper into their foreign policy team and exactly where their reporters'loyalties lie - it certainly isn't with free speech or the western world - I bet I get moderated out but I bet I can guess why as well.

  • Comment number 61.

    • 45. At 5:29pm on 30 Jul 2010, Joe wrote:
    37. At 4:58pm on 30 Jul 2010, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    Coalition troops attack Taliban
    Innocent civilians get killed in the cross fire
    Families and friends of dead civilians then become radicalised
    Radicalised civilians join the Taliban
    Taliban attacks Coalition troops
    Back to top...

    ................................................................

    Exactly, so doesn't that pose the question: Why are we really in Afghanistan?

    This is why we are training a an army so that the Afghanistan can fight Afghanistan – we on the other hand have told ordinary civilians, we are not going to be forever.

    Unless of course you allow training to take place again!!

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    Time after time, over the last fifty years the self-styled strongest nation on the planet has tried to impose its will on others by using its military. Sometimes we help, other times we don't. But can anyone recall the USA ever achieving its objectives as quickly and easily as it should?

    I think that today's extremists understand very well that they can cope with fighting the USA. I think the USA forget that people fighting to preserve the political or religous integrity of their country will fight hard and imaginatively. I think the USA really haven't worked out that they don't scare people any more. They still swagger like the class bully, but people are laughing behind their hands, and the rhetoric is increasingly empty.

    Can they defeat the Taliban? Not the way they're doing it now; not by trying to love the afghan population into submission. There are weapons and approaches that the Taliban can't possibly cope with . The problem is that the USA would be roundly hated (not that it is the worlds best loved nation now) and might not have the internal stomach to do what it would need to do to beat the Taliban and impress upon other terrorist groups that they defy the USA at their peril.

    Are they up for it or not? The Taliban exist because of the USA's reluctance to apply the degree of force they are capable of; and their insistence on fighting "gentle", halfhearted wars that kill a lot of people over a long time, achieve very little and actually result in more wars in future as groups learn that they can defy the USA and prosper.

    So, Mr President, lets see what you've got, or indeed what you haven't. But lets not have any more gentle wars.

  • Comment number 64.

    I would want to change the word defeat to curtail and change of attitude… We know all our brave casualties to date by our media…. we never told what the Taliban casualties are except very occasionally usually from an airstrike… we need to know!

    Also who really funds and arms the Taliban in Afghanistan from outside the country and are we achieving reducing that material support… As the Taliban have an extreme ideology on education (not for girls/women we are told) and the normal material items we in the rest of the world take for granted how do we change that attitude… ?

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    NO. This war commands little or no support from the electorate of the UK.

  • Comment number 67.

    Lets get out with a solemn warning - the next time its nukes - simple - then we stick to what we say.
    There's no point trying to educate the poor people of Afghanistan - they are too scared. The warlords are corrupt and the government does not govern by the will of the people.
    Furthermore, Bin Laden needs a break so its time to let him off the hook. Even if we did capture him, some Scottish government official would probably set him free on any weak grounds available.
    And perhaps we should try to pretend 9/11 and 7/7 and Bali and all the other terror attacks did not really happen and if it did happen then it was probably our fault anyway.

    So Taliban, we will be leaving at 12:00 pm on 1st January 2014 if you are ready to take over. We've even built you new schools and roads and bridges so that you can be more efficient at what you do. And dont worry about your womenfolk, we care for them just about as much as you do.

    Tally Ho and please keep in touch.

  • Comment number 68.

    Your own report by Ian Pannell reveals that the locals of that district support the Taliban. It seems that many ordinary people in the area have taken up arms against NATO forces.

    The BBC are very fond of the term "winning hearts and minds" which was kindly provided by the military in lieu of the more common term, propaganda (a term still in use by the BBC when referring to Taliban psyops). It would seem that "winning hearts and minds" will involve killing those locals who have taken up arms against NATO.

    So we have a pro-western government but a population who seem to want foreign troops out, with significant numbers taking up arms. It sounds quite a lot like South Vietnam circa 1970.

    I think we have long overstayed our welcome.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Umm, .... earth to troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban are mostly Afghans, too. It's their homeland. Yeah it's too bad that they have ideas that seem to us, strange? Anyway, regardless what would you do if were the Afghanis occupying Britain?

    The political reasoning for the occupation of this poor country lends one to the belief that maybe this is more about geographic convenience? Considering the other countries that the wars are being held. That the taxpayer fuelled war machine is for personal gain of the elite few.

    As for British troops? Well, that's the bottom line, is it not? Hired to kill or be killed?

    These troops are not defending Blighty, against the turkoman or kurd or kush but the interests of oil barons that make sure that rivalries are inflamed for business interest.

  • Comment number 71.

    Why is that no one can grasp the simple problem - the Yanks and by extension the countries they've dragged into their pointless war, they are fighting an idea! Please tell me how 100,000 guns can destroy an idea? Ask the Soviets!!!

    Every time you shoot one of those fanatical religious psychopaths, another steps up & cries - "Mad Mullah said I'm going to heaven - shoot me too!"

  • Comment number 72.

    The Taliban cannot be eradicated because the natural conditions of Afghanistan with its mountainous relief are favourable for the rebels. And it seems as if fighters come there from all over the muslim world in order not to allow Afghanistan to become a stable and democratic state. There is an impression that its territory is destined for ever to be ravaged by war. The war there can only be stopped through negotiations with influencial muslim leaders who know how to persuade the rebels to give up fighting.

  • Comment number 73.

    "Can the Taliban be defeated? Hundreds of British soldiers have launched an operation against insurgents in Afghanistan."

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    All Taliban are insurgents, but not all insurgents are Taliban.

    One can't negotiate with fundamentalists or extremists of any stripe, including religious fanatics like the Taliban, but you stand a better chance of reasoning with a non-Taliban insurgent.

    Ignoring this simple fact, and assuming every Afghan insurgent is "the same", is part and parcel of this unceasing war and the unfortunate tenacity of the Taliban.

  • Comment number 74.

    The Taliban are the people, as the last news article said about the pressure on the farmers seeing their livelihood destroyed due to eradication of poppy and marijuana. These farmers see their fields destroyed and then their family starve over the winter having to live of welfare from those who destroyed the farms in the first place.
    No wonder they take up arms against the forces of the government and NATO. How do we think that killing will solve anything? As one news article said when they interviewed locals that killing will not be the answer but talking to the Taliban is the only way to go. So what do Nato do, keep fighting then like Korea, divide the country in two install a puppet government and allow the Taliban to have the other half then spend years , decades in fact keeping one half living in constant fear of invasion and the other as a show case of all the West has to offer, McDonald's and Coca Cola.( malnutrition and obesity) I think the Afghan people are way smarter than the media make them out to be and will resist the west in any way they can. No, the Taliban will not be beaten by conventional means just like the Vietnamese they eventually will send the invader's packing.
    If NATO is serious about making Afghanistan and so called democracy then they will have to talk eventually or stay until every Afghan is dead.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Possibly.
    But for what and than what?
    Turn it into American banana republic?
    I think they are much better off with the Taliban...

  • Comment number 77.

    28. At 4:36pm on 30 Jul 2010, D wrote:
    Truth is if they had a vote right now in that country the taliban would win hands down, time for the occupiers to get out before they cause more damage and more war crimes!
    --------
    I believe that if they voted right now, Afghans would choose to raise their families as they see fit. The issue is that few in Afghanistan are willing to die to live free. Most Afghans don't see themselves as "Afghans"; rather they are Muslim first, then tribal, then Afghans. If not for foreign troops, they would resume fighting amongst themselves while living under the iron fist of the Taliban.

  • Comment number 78.

    The short answer is 'yes - of course, but not this way!' Their purpose is negative and positive measures against them will enable other Muslims to bring about their defeat. The measures we in the West are taking are conditioned by what we feel is necessary to pass muster with the UN and the underlying assumption on the part of extremists, with good cause, is that they are dealing with self-defeating fools. Leave the Afghans to deal with matters in their own way. If their government is protecting our interests as well as those of peaceful Afghans then be ready to go in hard and fast from the air if that government calls for assistance. Deal with the drugs issue by eliminating demand here at home and deal with the threat of terrorism in the UK with ruthless suppression of those involved. It is time to take the gloves off and stop asking men to sacrifice their lives unnecessarily.

  • Comment number 79.

    63. At 6:06pm on 30 Jul 2010, David Windsor wrote:

    Can they defeat the Taliban? Not the way they're doing it now; not by trying to love the afghan population into submission. There are weapons and approaches that the Taliban can't possibly cope with . The problem is that the USA would be roundly hated (not that it is the worlds best loved nation now) and might not have the internal stomach to do what it would need to do to beat the Taliban and impress upon other terrorist groups that they defy the USA at their peril.

    Are they up for it or not? The Taliban exist because of the USA's reluctance to apply the degree of force they are capable of; and their insistence on fighting "gentle", halfhearted wars that kill a lot of people over a long time, achieve very little and actually result in more wars in future as groups learn that they can defy the USA and prosper.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Excellent post. The US has the ability to end the war in Afghanistan in a matter of minutes. The fact that we have not done so is proof of our concern for civilians and a desire to minimize civilian casualties.

    War is ugly and innocent people die. War brings out the worst in people and there are people who commit war crimes. Still NATO and its allies have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and invested years in an inefficient operation that has a high risk of failure simply bacause they are mindful of civilian casualties.

    I'm not advocating use of nuclear arms. I am pointing out the cold hard reality to people who accuse the US and its allies of taking a cavalier attitude towards civilian casualties.

  • Comment number 80.

    If this action (war) had been prosecuted 30 or more years ago, even with today's resources, I dare say it could and would have been won

    Unfortunately we have terms such as "illegal war", and media/pressure group influences. But for the lawyers and left wing liberals (do-gooders) bloody war would have been properly waged - and our boys and girls returned home before now

    Tying the militaries' hands behind their backs is like going shopping in a supermarket with empty shelves - Utterly useless if you want to obtain your objective

  • Comment number 81.

    The simple solution is to destroy the ability of the Taleban to wage war.These fighters only wage war when it suits and they can get weapons and of course get paid.They do this by selling heroin in huge quantities collected from massive poppyfields.We appear to stop short of destroying the Talebans source of income which means there has to be an agenda not being reported. The chemicals are available so why hasnt it been done?You will never beat terrorists in Afghanistan until you cut off the money supply.

  • Comment number 82.

    Taliban can be defeated, but the regional powers need to be involved.US and GB should invite India and Russia,who are currently experiencing similar trouble from separatists and have geo-political and economic interests in the region,should be consulted closely.This might raise a huge uproar in Pakistan,but there are not many avenues available.
    As long as Pakistan plays a double edged sword,it would be impossible to smother the insurgency.
    Simultaneously,overall economic and humanitarian development of the region is of prime importance.This will require sustained effort from all parties involved,but under the current global economic woes would anybody be willing to risk their neck?

  • Comment number 83.

    Militarily? No! They'll still be there long after we give up on it.

    The only way is to create an economy and society that is successful and leads the general population to reject the Taliban and all it stands for. At the end of the day, all anyone wants is a quiet, reasonably prosperous and peaceful existence. Give them that and the Taliban will find it hard to find support.

  • Comment number 84.

    5. At 3:18pm on 30 Jul 2010, suzie127 wrote:

    People can be defeated, but a fundamentalist idea cannot. There will always be those willing to take advantage of true believers and get them commit acts of terrorism in the name of their god.

    -------------------------------------

    That applies to either side in a conflict. Also it should be make believers, not true believers.

  • Comment number 85.

    It is an impossibility to defeat an enemy which is invisible! The Taliban and Afghan insurgents are in control of the country and nothing NATO does will ever change this! It's always been the same in that region - Guns will never defeat ideas! The minds of these ancient peoples are not for sale and neither is their land. They will never allow western corporations to build that pipe line, and as in Iraq the peoples of this region will never work for western interests! How much labour are the fascist corporations importing into Iraq and Afghanistan? They cannot employ the locals because they might just turn round and shoot! Nato, US and UK forces are being lead by donkeys - who are working for the fascist corporations! It will fail.

  • Comment number 86.

    I agree with some of the posts above.

    This OP is just pushing the Taliban into another area. It pains me to say this because the man I love is out there right now taking part in this OP along side the BRF.

    A war of 'hearts and minds', their hands are tied and they are limited to what they can actually achieve out there.

    I just want our lads and lasses home, I may not raise any real valid points here but there are thousands of families and loved ones back here who's hearts are breaking daily and we're going out of our minds with worry.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    Does defeating anyone win anything? Sooner or later folks have to talk and agree what they can agree!

    The Taliban rebels need to be excluded from the rest of the freeworld for our safety until they want to talk! Peace will come one day when folks start to respect each other as worthy of life and an alternative viewpoint. Respect is a 2 way street.

  • Comment number 89.

    On the BBC news today they interviewed some of the Afghan elders who wanted the war to stop. They were asked who they would prefer to take over: the Taliban or coalition and 100% would like the Taliban back in control.

    We were told recently we are in Afghanistan to stop the spread of Al Qaeda so that our streets would be safe at home. But now they have fermented a war they have left and moved onto other countries such as Yemen or Somalia.

    So in both these cases why are we still there?

  • Comment number 90.

    79. At 7:07pm on 30 Jul 2010, DCHeretic wrote:
    "...The US has the ability to end the war in Afghanistan in a matter of minutes. The fact that we have not done so is proof of our concern for civilians and a desire to minimize civilian casualties."

    Nothing is further from the truth than this is.
    Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld waged that unfortunate and illegal war for corporate interests only. So it is today. Do not try to paint it rosy as it is not rosy, but a classical imperialistic war based on faked reasons.


  • Comment number 91.

    Let's see, Pakistan has about 170 Million People and the Taliban Sancuary is in Pakistan, while Afghanistan has only 29 million people. Yes the Taliban can be defeated if that is something that Pakistan wants. If Pakistan does not want to defeat the Taliban, than the Allies, cannot do it. So Pakistan is the key, in fact I will suggest that the US, UK etc, leave now and let Pakistan sort it out, because they can defeat the Taliban without us if that is their desire, and if it is not their desire it is useless for us to try. There are many good people in Afghanistan, and I feel sorry that they have to live with these 14th century monsters, but frankly I feel as part of the Coalition the Afghanistan people are just not trying hard enough to get rid of them. So this I say to the UK residents, and the Europeans who have helped the US out, it seemed like a good idea at the time and as a US citizen I thank you, but I am sorry to say it looks like the US leadership made a mistake, maybe an understandable one but a mistake never the less, so it may be time now for all of us to cut our losses -- and watch our borders more closely.

  • Comment number 92.

    Players in Afghanistan:-

    1: Talibans
    2: Afghans (Ex-Afghan Mujhaideens like Hikmatyaar group) Allegedly supported by some ex-ISI officials, to counter Karzai's anti-Pakistan regime.
    3: Arab fighters (AL-Qaeeda)
    4: Pakistani Taliban (Allegedly supported by Northern Alliance. Karzi knows that as long as Afghanistan & Pakistani tribal region is unstable NATO and America will stay there, prolonging his hugely corrupt and unpopular regime).
    5: Foreign elements (Indians, Russians, Pakistani according to "LEAKED" documents)

    And here we are talking about just ONE player TALIBAN!

    NATO and America want to win the war? better start a dialog with all players EXCLUDING AL-QAEEDA.

    Identify and acknowledge each player and adapt a different strategy for each party. STOP labeling everything which moves ALQAEEDA, TALIBAN or little green men from Mars.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    What are the Afghans fighting for?
    They are fighting foreigners occupying their land handed down from their forefathers.

    What are the NATO troops fighting for?
    1. To capture Osama?
    2. To destroy Al-Qaeda?
    3. To support nation building in Afghanistan?
    4. To destroy poppy?
    5. To eradicate Taliban?
    6. To preserve human rights of women and children?

    All the above has been bandied around one time or another, and I don't know which is the correct one.

    Then they find that they are supporting a corrupt Afghan government.
    They also find that the US government cannot account for $8.7 billion out of the $9.1 billion that was meant for the reconstruction in the previous war in Iraq.
    And everyday, they are risking life and limb with loved ones waiting for them at some far away home.

    For the Afghans, the cause is clear. As history has shown, they lose their land, they lose everything.
    For NATO forces, the cause is never clear. But if they lose the war, the outcome is very clear. They get to go home.

    No need to tell you who will win this one, do I?

  • Comment number 95.

    They can be defeated, but it will fall outside what would be acceptable. It would mean having to accept massive losses of life in Afganistan and a lot of innocent civilian deaths.

    So the better question is, will they deafeat the taliban? The answer to that is never

  • Comment number 96.

    Barack Obama cannot muster 3% GDP this year. How will he manage a war in Afghanistan? The $59 billion appropriated by Congress is wasted. If Obama was wise, he would significantly withdraw American Forces. Why tolerate verified accusations of sexual and physical attacks on innocent villagers there?

  • Comment number 97.

    74. At 6:44pm on 30 Jul 2010, mamugwis wrote:

    "The Taliban are the people, as the last news article said about the pressure on the farmers seeing their livelihood destroyed due to eradication of poppy and marijuana. These farmers see their fields destroyed and then their family starve over the winter having to live of welfare from those who destroyed the farms in the first place.
    No wonder they take up arms against the forces of the government and NATO."

    The Taliban is responsible for the cutting down of the poppy plants as they are TOTALLY against the growing of poppy that leads to heroin addiction and the Taliban is against all forms of drugs. Now that the United States has been there, the world is receiving its majority of opium/heroin supplies again from Afghanistan.

    For me, I am against the Taliban for its strict religious guidelines that must be adhered to and their refusal to allow women to be educated, as well as their barbaric forms of punishment.

    These are problems that could have been addressed and changed without the need of war though. The idea that there is some guy riding around on a camel (Osama Bin Laden) and giving orders for the Muslim world to wage war against Americans though seems to be a bit far-fetched.

    If that were the case, we would have been in BIG trouble years ago from our own citizens. :)

  • Comment number 98.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 99.

    To defeat some one can be answered like this whether we can defeat ourselves. Even the top most or supreme most warriors in this World will say no then this question doesn’t arise. First of all we all should be clear in mind the war and defeat both are very big words and wars are always fought on settling the disputed issue and for this the approach must be consoling, teaching, threatening, depriving and last be punishing. As far as all the people knows that allied forces, U.K. and U.S.A. forces are there to settle few issues there and not for winning or defeating. All the people can’t settle all their disputes in their own family house and how they can expect everything must be fine in the other person house.

    Everyone must have a strong faith into this they are born for compromises and settlement and not for creating issues first and then settling them. If we see the Earth and Sky both is settle on some kind of settlement then why their children don’t understand this basic fact. If cases are fought in the Court on the issues they are also settle and if all the people whether big or small, rich or poor, powerful or weak, leading or non leading, cruel or kind, white or black, honest or dishonest understand this fact and make and develop this as a food of living then their will be no such question of winning or loosing the game or war.

  • Comment number 100.

    Thought war was a 'troop offensive' in the first place - so what's 'fresh' about this one in nearly its stale decade? Only coffins arriving at Wootton Basset. Can imagine where the directive originated for the Brits to conduct 'Operation Tor Shezada' ... Black Prince ... Indeed! (ha! such delusions of grandeur from across the water.) No ... British involvement in an illegal/migrating/unwinnable Middle East war was never a good idea; the Taliban will still be about next century.

 

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