September 8th, 2009
03:59 PM ET

The ticking bomb of Afghanistan

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/08/art.troops.afghan.kids.jpg caption="U.S. Marines play with local children during a patrol into the village of Jakar in Nawa district. "]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

At this moment, three storms are converging in Afghanistan, which may well determine the future of that country for decades to come and America’s future interests there as well.

First: American troops are dying in greater numbers. There have been four fatalities already today as I write this. Last month there were 52; the largest number since the war began. The increase is tied to the intensified push against the Taliban, especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Every military analyst will tell you that casualties usually rise when troops engage the enemy. But the Taliban is also doing a better job. Their fighters have learned from eight years of combat how long it takes our air power to show up, how well armored our ground troops are, and how to strike at our weaknesses.

Second: The election, two-and-half weeks, ago has not yet produced a winner, but it has produced chaos, mistrust, threats, and widespread allegations of fraud. International players want investigations immediately. Vast areas of Afghanistan have always been governed by tribal rule, and the shakiness of this election is doing nothing to encourage faith in a centralized government.

Third: American and European support for the war is tumbling. Voters and politicians in the countries most invested with troops in this battle are growing decidedly queasy about pressing on. There is rapidly growing talk of timetables for withdrawal.

None of this says a thing about the wisdom of staying or going with regard to America’s overall security or the safety of the Afghan people. And there are plenty of debates about those topics.

What all of this does suggest, however, is that even with the anniversary of 9/11 coming on fast, this week may prove critically important in its own right.

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Tom Foreman
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Todd

    We didn't beat the Nazi's because we mired ourselves in endless dribble over whether we should be there or not. We are there. Period. We (the sons and daughters whose lives you've squandered) are there because it was the will of the American people to go there and impose our will. Now, in the moment things get tough and evil shows us he will not go quietly, we simply wish to give up, quit? "We'll never win", "They don't want us there", "It's another Vietnam". How the heck do ya'll expect to win anything with that attitude?

    Sacrifices have been made for our cause, blood sacrifices of those who believed that America would come and make it a better place. No one told them that we are fickle and will lose our will when the fighting gets toughest. Why is it we could beat the Nazis and The Empire of Japan but not a bunch of thugs running around the mountains in pajamas? Will, pure will power. Pulling up our clean starched sleeves and getting into the fight.

    How about ya'll getting with the program? No point in wondering the shoulda, coulda, wouldas no because we are already in the fight. American sons and daughters are killing and dying everyday in our name, now get with it! Remember 9-11!!!

    September 9, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  2. Ian

    AC, you should be reporting about Patistan and how opium cultivation pays a great part in what happens in Afghanistan today. Your next trip be reporting from the FATA area in Patistan is you can get there. Also, read the book Descent in to Chaos. Lots of info.

    September 9, 2009 at 5:04 am |
  3. Peggy

    I am angry that we are the largest nation represented in Afganistan, and have lost almost 800 men – so much more than any other nation. And now we are going to send about 70,000 more there? Wonder if Obama would send his daughters were they older to fight there> And how do we get them to volunteer? By recruiters like the one that talked (lied) to my child and promised him "the moon" to get him to sign up. NONE of the promises have came true! The last place in the world he wanted to be was Afganistan. Oh no he would never be there – wake up world – guess where he is – not ANY other place he chose or was promised. And anyone there knowing reality and listening close knows they are talking about :winning. I've spent 25 years over seas – and know this is another vietnam.

    September 9, 2009 at 2:13 am |
  4. Peggy

    What area were the 4 men in that were killed today?

    September 9, 2009 at 1:49 am |
  5. Lois

    Amen! thanks for seeing things the way i do, where do they think their going to come up with more service men and women? Pull out now. I think enough is enough. it's so hard to even imagine what our military are going through. I pray for our service people and ask the Government why continue? This fighting has been going on since the world began why do they think we can put an end to it? I don't want the families who have lost loved ones feel they died without cause but evil is all around us and will be till the Lord comes again. Take care Yvonne God Bless you and your husband and family. Mom of Trav. D. Love ya son

    September 9, 2009 at 12:03 am |
  6. BJ

    I agree with A.M. Deist.
    The Russians were in Afganistan 10 years and accomplished
    nothing. We are on the same course. Have we learned nothing
    about fighting other people's wars? Does the American war machine need this war that badly? Not getting Bin Laden has damaged our
    creduability immensely. We are on a sucker path!

    September 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  7. Yvonne

    My husband is a U.S Marine and he is activy dutie military. He is in Afghan right now, i dont understand why we have to put our military people in danger. This country doesn't want to rebuild the goernment or we wouldn't have to be invold in their problems. I worrie about my husband day and night . People think if we kill the taliban that ever thing would be ok , Other people dont realize that they even have little kids ready to fill in their shoes . So the cycle never ends. Its time we end the war iraq , afghan or iran. No body knows what life is like over tfor them to keep saying we need to stay their. These military peole have a family to return too.

    September 8, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  8. Lois

    I just dont see any point any more we have lost so many children, Even the ones that do survive how is this affecting them? I seen pictures of military playing with children. Let them come home so they have a chance to play with their own sons and daughters. I appreciate them all as we have a son in the 101st airborne. this is his second tour and twice has been injured. How long will this keep going on? pray for our country and service men and women. God bless them and God bless our nation. well wishes Trav. love mom and dad

    September 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm |
  9. Tim Gibson

    Is it that we do not honestly understand or that we refuse to accept, the mind of the taliban or the ancient ways of other cultures beyond our own front lawns.

    Oue nation, the USA, stands out in many ways, yet we fall far behind in other areas just as we do with the Afghan war on terror or what ever they choose to call it this week. This is a battle that will never be won on Afghan soil and our resources and energy would best be used in protecting our own national borders and the security of our homeland. Yet in this we fall fall behind as well.

    This is a war that will only drag on for many years to come in the fashion we have traveled thus far. It will not be won, not this week, not next year or the year after that. Bring the troops home. Work on our problems here and let other nations handle their own crisis is the way best suited for their own survival. We are suppose to be leaders, not machines of war.

    September 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    If our troops can clear out the Taliban fairly quickly and get started on the process of helping the Afghanis rebuild their government and country then maybe the country will be more amenable to staying a bit longer to give the Afghanis more stability and more of a chance to keep the Taliban at bay once we do leave. If we don't finish the job we stand a good chance of having to go back later to do so when its an even larger problem.

    September 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  11. Mari

    We need to pull out of Afghanistan, now. We will never win and it is becoming another Vietnam.

    September 8, 2009 at 7:39 pm |
  12. Marzipan

    The main reason for deteriorating public support for the war in Afghanistan is the length of the conflict. Unfortunately, this is the nature of counter-insurgency warfare and we should expect at least another three years before we are in a position to begin to withdraw troops in large part due to the neglect of the afghan conflict under the prior administration.

    The only way the Taliban can win is if the US and NATO give up and leave. The Taliban can not mass and operate openly under current conditions in the country which means they are limited to a strategy of attrition. This strategy will be less and less effective over time provided the central government and the ANA continue to grow and increase there operational abilities.

    The only issue listed by Mr Foreman that truly concerns me is the one around elections. In a country engaged in counter insurgency operations, political legitimacy is a desperately needed commodity.

    September 8, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  13. A.M. Deist

    The Russians got defeated in Afghanistan, and the Americans will as well. You can't win a war where people are less interested in defeating an enemy than you are. We keep talking about Al Qaida, but talk is cheap; money buys the beer. If we aren't willing to go get Al Qaida whereever they are, then we might as well come home and secure our borders.

    September 8, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  14. Michael mule

    Is this really a war with achievable objectives? Osama bin Laden and the one eyed Mullah Omar are still out there planning catastrophe on their lame duck targets while the most powerful army plus NATO can't find them.What is going on there if NATO soldiers are dying everyday and not even the same number if not more Taliban dead.America and NATO need to win this war crucially cause the terrorists are closing in on all fronts in different parts of the world.America and all allies need to strike the snakes on their heads sooner than later.

    September 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  15. Wazir

    Well hello hmm ummmm no comments here i wonder why ????
    Not so good news????

    September 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm |