"Rattling the Taliban" has emerged as the latest strategy by the U.S. in the war in Afghanistan. The "rattling" can be summed up as the targeted killing of suspected Taliban leaders. Apparently, interrogations of some Taliban fighters captured during commando operations have revealed that lower level Taliban fighters are fearful of moving up to command positions because of these lethal operations.
This assumes ergo that there are just so many Taliban willing and able to be in command positions and leading the fight against us. Kill the leaders and the rest will surrender or want to negotiate with us. And to further the incentive for lower level Taliban to quit fighting are "American officers will soon be handing out money to lure them away from the insurgency".
So there you have it, a winning strategy to end the war!
Ah"not so fast.
July proved to be the most deadly month so far in this 9 year old Afghan war with more U.S. troops killed than in any previous month.
The latest reports of large scale military operations in Marja and Kandahar (the strongholds of the Afghan Taliban and the center of the Pashtun population from which the Taliban descend) are "flagging" thereby calling into question the very nature and purpose of these operations.
So now "rattling the Taliban" is rolled out as the latest rosy scenario that says we have the upper hand in Afghanistan and it's only a matter of time that this war will be over.
Well think again. The idea that we have an upper hand in Afghanistan is a chimera, a marketing scheme devised to deflect the reality of the depth of the quagmire we find ourselves in.
Each day echoes of Viet Nam (for those of us old enough or care enough to remember) keep coming. Back then it was "Vietnamization", the American plan to drawing the Vietnamese people away from the Viet Cong guerillas, the indigenous Vietnamese forces (insurgency) that we were fighting against. In Afghanistan it's drawing the Afghan people away from the indigenous Taliban insurgency.
Lest we forget, the Viet Nam war ended when we left the country. The same will happen when we leave Afghanistan.
Winning some battles in Viet Nam didn't change the eventual outcome of that war. And targeting Taliban leaders won't change the eventual outcome in Afghanistan.
Between the "Wikileaks" revelations of a week ago that confirmed the insidious duplicities, overall brutality and wanton killing of innocents and the rampant governmental corruption only serves to highlight the utter futility of our continuing in this war. Combine this with the July figures of American combat deaths it seems clear only our departure from Afghanistan can bring an end to this war.
The Taliban are mostly ethnic Pashtun, indigenous people of Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. It is they who have the upper hand in this war and the will to outlast us how ever long it takes.
Our continuing this war only delays the inevitable.
The best we and the Afghan people need to hear from the White House is we're leaving Afghanistan. Anything else is a marketing ploy designed to deflect the realities on the ground and the senselessness of our continuing this unnecessary war.
 "Afghan Strategy Has Fresh Focus, Targeting Killing", by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, "The New York Times", August 1, 2010.