[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
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.
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