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On Air: Does setting a date to get troops out of Afghanistan mean the Taliban has won?

Alicia Trujillo Alicia Trujillo | 10:40 UK time, Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Nato troops could leave Afghanistan in 2014. The international community supports President Hamid Karzai's goal that Afghan forces should lead security operations across the country in four years time.

This article in the New York Times says one of the reasons why there is this new commitment is because countries who have troops there, acknowledged that neither the public in their own countries nor the Afghan people had much patience left.

The Western European democracies with the most troops in the country - Britain, France and Germany - are under great domestic pressure to reduce their presence, while the United States, which has by far the heaviest military presence, is hewing to a "conditions based" approach that allows its forces to slow any drawdowns in areas where the insurgency appears more tenacious or where Afghan troops and the police appear to have inadequate capabilities.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance will never allow the Taliban to topple the government of Afghanistan. But he said that transition to Afghan-led security would be based on "conditions, not calendars."
The Canadians who also have troops in Afghanistan say :

"The latest conference on Afghanistan set 2014 as the date for the assumption of military control of the country by Afghans. It is an ambitious timetable, and one that will require defeat of, or reconciliation with, the Taliban. With defeat unlikely, Canada expressed support for reconciliation at the conference. Now Canada must make sure it stays around, training troops and maintaining an energetic presence, to help give effect to reconciliation."

Richard Barrett co-ordinator of the UN al-Qaida Taliban monitoring team says in today's Guardian argues:

Afghanistan is a mess that everyone wants cleared up - but the problem is how to do it. It is clear that the military option has not succeeded. June saw the greatest monthly loss of life among Nato troops since the beginning of the campaign, topping 100 for the first time, and so far 2010 has been twice as lethal for Nato forces as 2009. The Taliban, meanwhile, show no sign of flagging - and, sensing victory, their morale is high.

Gerald Warner blogs

We are watching history in the making in Afghanistan; but it is history of a certain stamp - the slow-motion unravelling of a disaster. He also says :

Here we have high-ranking international diplomats and foreign ministers, the supposed "movers and shakers" of the world, but they have encountered the immovable and the unshakeable: the victorious Taliban and the treacherous warlords of Afghanistan.

Gerald Warner believes that behind Karzai's confident demeanour lies the uncomfortable reality that his recent back-door overtures to the Taliban have been contemptuously rejected. The same will happen to Nato: why should the Taliban negotiate the endgame to a war it has already won?

So does setting a date to get Nato troops out of Afghanistan mean the Taliban has won?

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