The long delay has been seen by conservatives as an opportunity to call the President a weak, lazy, Nigerian-born Marxist, Communist, Socialist, hell bent on destroying America. When actually it has been a delay by the White House to make the President look thoughtful and contemplative before charging full bore into a continuation of the Bush/Cheney foreign policy.
Japan has dropped out of the Afghan mission, minor though it was, but the message is clear, continue this folly on your own! This war was started in Afghanistan because the Taliban government refused to extradite Osama Bin Laden to the United States. The Taliban first claimed that because there was no formal extradition treaty that they were under no obligation. Then they claimed that they didn't know where Bin Laden was or if he was still even in Afghanistan. The first charge was specious but the second charge now eight years later seems to hold some validity.
So what are our goals? What do we win? How do we know that we are winning? During WWII Americans could watch on the map as allied forces pushed the axis forces back towards their borders. The public tolerated terrible losses because they could see that progress was being made. Today if you ask what our goals are in Afghanistan, and the answer might be returned, "We are bringing democracy." The recent elections and the nature of Afghan society make that old saw as thin as a cotton shirt on a cold night.
"KUNDUZ - The vehicle is marked Kunduz Provincial Police Headquarters, but the occupants are not necessarily servants of the state.
"The Taliban in Kunduz recently captured eight police Ford Ranger pickups in Chahr Dara district, and they use them to move around.
This after eight years and billions of dollars spent in the US occupation of Afghanistan.
"Kunduz province only a year ago was considered stable with business booming and residents hopeful."
Four other districts are in the same situation as Kunduz. The local officials cash their checks and drive their new trucks until the Taliban take them away, and when the going gets tough the officials run.
After eight years the Afghan army is still unable to protect the people from the Taliban. In the Philippines during WWII, the Filipino resistance movement was the scourge of the Japanese occupation. With no outside support using mainly captured weapons they tied down thousands of Japanese troops. This movement formed in less than two years. A coast watcher with a radio and a 45-caliber pistol ended the war, in charge of over 140 men with two captured patrol boats and an armored barge. The difference was in motivation; the Filipinos wanted the Japanese gone.
The Governor of Kunduz blames Pakistan, saying that as long as NATO supplies were being routed through Pakistan the local Pakistanis were profiting from taxes and fees. But since the attack on the NATO supply routes NATO has rerouted the supplies through Tajikistan, leaving the locals in the area with a financial void to fill. So if the locals have nothing to gain perhaps destabilizing that area of the country might bring NATO supplies back to the area.
"Kunduz police chief Mohammad Razaq Yaqubi, however, links the security problems to smugglers of narcotics in Kunduz. 'The Taliban try to increase cultivation and production of opium in this region,' he said. 'This war in Kunduz belongs to the narcotics mafia, which is operating in the name of Islam.'
"Yaqubi called on the international forces to do battle with the smugglers. 'They need to fight against them,' he insisted. 'Al-Qaeda gets a lot of its income from drugs and buys military equipment with it.'"