Toothless Taliban

Afghanistan has successfully conduct its second round of elections since its liberation from the Taliban in 2001. Turnout is estimated at over fifty percent. Despite promises to disrupt the election from al Qaeda and the Taliban, the violence on election day was insignificant. The BBC tallies up the election day violence:

• A skirmish between police and Taliban. Two police and three Taliban are killed.

• A French soldier is killed by a land mine.

• Two rockets fired at a UN compound.

• One Taliban fighter killed during an attack on a police station.

• A candidate’s house is bombed, injuring five.

• Three rockets fired at Jalalabad airport.

• A rocket attack on polling station in Andar district of Ghazni province.

• A rocket attack on polling station in Dargam district of Kunar province.

Afghanistan is the former haven of al Qaeda and the model Islamist state for al Qaeda’s desired Caliphate. The Taliban has vowed it would disrupt the elections. Yet all it could accomplish was a series of small engagements that can accurately be described as harassments attacks. Not a single attack achieved the desired result of disrupting the election, closing a polling place or intimidating the Afghan people from voting.

It is not as if the Taliban and al Qaeda had to face an overwhelming army of foreign soldiers and a robust Afghan Army. There are currently 32,000 foreign troops on Afghan soil (20,000 U.S. and 12,000 NATO/ISAF troops), and about 55,000 active Afghan security forces (data is from February 2005, this number is likely larger but not significantly).

It is not as if a robust target environment did not exist. There were almost 6,000 candidates running for office. There were 28,157 polling stations in 6,000 locations throughout Afghanistan, manned by about 200,000 poll workers. The combined Coalition and Afghan security forces could not realistically secure each and every polling station or provide for security for each candidate and poll worker. Yet the Taliban was essentially silent during Afghanistan’s election.

The resurgence of the Taliban has been predicted year after year since their ouster in the winter of 2001. Despite the Coalition’s obvious vulnerabilities that are inherent in defending an election, the Taliban could not come close to making itself heard. This is not power, but impotence. The Taliban may have an underground ‘army’ and access to Pakistan’s chaotic tribal regions, but their ability to influence day to day events and their relevance in the future of Afghanistan diminishes yearly.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Robert M says:

    This is a post from Oxblog(courtesy of Andrew Sullivan) aboout the results giving a little more poltical dimension to this victory. //
    The reason I writing is to followup on what happened to the embed program because the following has now shown up. There has got to be a way to get correct stories out. Any suggestions of knowledge of the embed program?

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    But yet, we liberals who control the media can simply opt to not report anything positive about Afghanistan, thereby ensuring that the American public receives no good news.
    Instead, we can latch onto evidence that the Taliban still exists, repeat that at great length, and persuade Americans that the Afghanistan job was left unfinished.
    Thus, we liberals succeed at undermining America and demoralizing the American public.
    What you pro-America people fail to realize is that the propaganda war is even more important than the military war, and you pro-America people have no chance against us liberals in this area.

  • Rookie says:

    Taliban were taking a hard hit in the months before election. Basically it was a clean-up operation conducted by US and Afghan army exactly to assure that these elections will go as smoothly as possible.
    The painfull event involving the death of 3 SEAL guys and immediately after the shooting of the rescue helicopter were precipitating the offensive in Kunar area. I was reading as mad all kind of on-line journals, searching for extra info, including a Pakistani one I sometimes follow since my job trip to that country early this year – it has some news from Waziristan once in a while. The info was scarce and the rumour was that in Kunar mountains was some HVT hidding. A military spokeman mentioned that “hundreds” were holed up that valey; the campaign was ended succesfully, but without an outstanding result. I was dissapointed, maybe my hopes were set too high.
    I’m glad to see that election ended without major bloodshed, Afganistan has big chances to became a normal country as the people there are the only ones who were “enjoying” the pleasures of the true islamic state…

  • Bugz says:

    Honest Liberal,
    You say that as if it were something to be proud of…

  • Lorenzo says:

    Great news today Bill!
    We who care for our childrens future will continue to rise and replace the already half-dead mainstream media to disseminate world news established by the free and the brave. I am pleased to begin my roll to that end.

  • Bugz, whoever made that post was being sarcastic.

  • Bugz says:

    “Bugz, whoever made that post was being sarcastic.”
    Stop by the Democratic Underground, or KOS, and I’m sure you know you can find stuff that makes that comment look mild, but they are dead serious about it. No sarcasm intended over there, for sure.
    A smiley, at least, ought to be included if sarcasm is intended…

  • Why we fight

    You may have missed it, in between Emmy talk, and Bush ordered spaceborne-lasers to redirect Katrina straight into New Orleans talk, but Afghanistan just saw another successful round of elections. Free elections.

  • rbj says:

    for comparison’s sake, do you know how many people are killed in election related violence in India for each parlimentary cycle? I think Afghanistan would compare favorably, especially considering the last 30 years of each country.

  • Chaz706 says:

    The propaganda war isn’t going as bad as it seems, at least to the bloggers. It’s history I’m more concerned about, but that’s all right. In the end, the crud we’re hearing over the MSM will be called what it is: propaganda. Meanwhile, the successes in Afganistan and Iraq will be seen as they were: successes, and monumental ones at that. If we could see what the Tet offensive really was some 30 some odd years later, I’m sure our kids and grandkids will see it the same way (or at least, I would hope).
    Everyone thought Reagan’s policies were failures, until the Berlin wall went down and we looked back and saw how effective they were. Unfortunately, he was no longer president at the time.
    Perhaps Bush would have it the same way. A little sad perhaps, but ultimately fitting.

  • Don't Lie says:

    I have read the reports you obviously have not and for the most part the press has stated correctly that Taliban activities have risen. 1,200 deaths this year.
    I suppose you are now going to call Afghan Defence minister Abdur Rahim Wardak a pawn of the left because he also states that the Taliban are better organized and armed than they have been since 2001.
    Some of us feel and this includes many conservatives (The WSJ recently did an editorial) that the Bush administration should delay it’s plan to withdraw 20% of the troops from Afghanistan.
    Obviously you disagree with this, you believe that increases in the size of the enemy are insignificant and the need to “declare victory” for congressional elections trumps such concerns.
    Fine. Many of use feel that wishful thinking about Iraq prevented the timely application of reforms and new strategies and that the costs and risks of the venture have greatly increased because right wing partisans felt it was more important to be always “winning” than to address real problems. Some of us do not feel that these are primarily partisan domestic issues, but can have real consequences in this world.
    We would be happier if the Taliban was smaller than it was last year rather than larger and more effective.
    I mean really people, suppose there is a problem, do you really think withdrawing a significant numberr of troops so that Republicans can claim victory in next election is justified? What if you succeeed in your desire to brand all who are concerned about Taliban growth as traitors? Don’t you worry that at some point this country will face real crisis where it needs to look at facts and analyze, not simply declare succcess?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Don’t Lie,
    Please don’t project. I have not and do not support a withdrawal from Afghanistan. It wasn’t even discussed in this post.
    I discussed the Taliban’s impotence in disrupting the elections, the singular most important political event of the year. They may be able to dispense violence, of that I have no doubt, but they couldn’t do it when it counted most.
    The 1,200 deaths you cite are largely made of of Taliban, by the way. I’ll cite the first BBC link in today’s post:
    “More than 1,000 people have been killed in violence linked to militants in Afghanistan so far this year, most of them suspected insurgents.”
    Or perhaps you are claiming the Taliban is committing mass acts of suicide?

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    We are proud of it. Note that the goal of liberals, such as myself, is to weaken and undermine America. With that being our goal, yes, we are proud of the progress we are making in obstructing America’s wars.
    At least I am honest about the liberal agenda. What, you would prefer a lack of honesty?

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Honest Liberal,
    In case you missed it, asked you to stop destroying the comments threads yesterday. This will be your last warning.

  • cjr says:

    “We are proud of it. Note that the goal of liberals, such as myself, is to weaken and undermine America. With that being our goal, yes, we are proud of the progress we are making in obstructing America’s wars.
    At least I am honest about the liberal agenda. What, you would prefer a lack of honesty?”
    Honest Liberal, I dont think you are being totally honest yet. Your goal isnt really to undermine America, is it? Undermining America is just a byproduct of your REAL goal. Your real goal is to get back into power. And the only way to do that is for the conservatives to fail. Then you can say “I told you so. They were wrong and I was right. Put me back into power”. If you destroy America in the process, that is quite OK, because, in the end, the real goal is power, not a better America.

  • PierreM says:

    The Taliban are increasingly ineffective in Afghanistan.
    The real danger is that they are organizing inside Pakistan, radicalizing further the Pashtuns there and attacking its government from safe havens in Waziristan.
    BTW, I thought a test of sovereignty was being capable of asserting control over your claimed territory, something Pakistan seems incapable of doing.

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    Please explain exactly how what I write is off-topic. I am not rude to anyone, and do comment on the subject of the article.
    If you seek merely to eliminate any non-conforming opinions here, say so.
    But do tell me how what I say is off-topic, or how my opinions are not permitted to be spoken.

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    That is partly true. However, we seek power in order to move America to the left. Failing that, we liberals want to weaken America to the point that it does not obstruct our worldwide agenda.
    I hope that answers your question.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Honest Liberal,
    It has nothing to do with being non-confrontational. If I was merely interested in watching my traffic grow the the comments increase, I’d say nothing and let you continue. It much rather see a debate on the topic of the post.
    You are constantly deflecting from the topic of the post to discuss how liberals control the media, etc. We get it.
    The result of your posts is that the comments degenerate into media bashing, liberal bashing, name calling, threats, and other unpleasantries.
    There are more than enough blogs out there to discuss media bias or communist control of the media or whatever people like to perceive the problem to be.
    My personal opinion is that you are not a liberal, but a conservative that is playing a not-so-clever game designed to tar all liberals as anti-American. It isn’t funny, and it certainly isn’t honest.

  • Bugz says:

    I guess Steve Den Beste was mistaken in thinking sacasm was intended by Honest Liberal.
    Never underestimate a liberal’s capacity for venom. If it mean supporting a group as murderous and ruthless as the Taliban, that’s ok as long as it pokes a thumb in eye of the Bush administration. After all, it was only brown skinned people who were being opressed. It’s not like it was anyone important.
    And they wonder why they are the minority party…

  • Justin B says:

    We put way too much time into our posts, our jobs, and our families to have 50 comments to read every day that consist mostly of personal attacks and trolls.

    Bill and I discussed banning someone else months ago for doing similar things and my answer was “ban him”, but Bill stated, “I don’t ban people. I may ask them to leave or to clean up their posts, but I generally don’t believe in banning people.”

    Please don’t push the issue Honest Lib. Whatever your motivations are, this is our site (read that as mostly Bill’s but I have been around long enough that I have squatter’s rights). If you have trouble understanding why we object to your comments and are unwilling to stop, we will kindly ask you to leave.

  • The Honest Liberal says:

    A conservative? Certainly not. I assure you that I am a very committed liberal.
    And if the threads devolve into, as you say, media bashing, liberal bashing, threats, etc., then those are *towards* me by others, correct? I am not the one making these statements, and it is your conservative readers who you ought to warn.
    I am not the one one being rude or vulgar to anyone here.
    Fine, I will discuss the topic of the post more that I have been. But you will have to note that when I discuss the topic, I will simply have a very different desired outcome of the event in question than the pro-America people here.

  • Justin Capone says:

    The Iraqi army: One step forward, two steps back?
    BAGHDAD – Al-Qaeda in Iraq landed a body blow to the government last week, just as the army took a major step in assuming security control from U.S. forces – the key to an eventual American withdrawal.
    Whether by design, as claimed, or the sheer luck of timing, al-Qaeda’s declaration of all-out war on Iraqi Shiites and four brutal days of bombings that killed more than 250 people overwhelmed news of the Iraqi army’s successful rout of insurgents from their stronghold near the border with Syria.
    The Bush administration and the Iraqi government claim to be making major strides in fielding a capable Iraqi army, a force said to be nearing 200,000 strong. The plan calls for the Iraqi force to increasingly take over control of the country from the 140,000 U.S. forces now leading the fight against a Sunni-dominated insurgency.
    God I hate the media, the suicide attacks against civilians are meaningless militarily. The UK and Israel freeking can’t stop suicide bombers. They say nothing about the power of the Iraqi Army and police.
    Guess what Zarqawi is playing you idiots as fools.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Honest Liberal,
    I have warned conservative commenters as well. I’m not going to play your games, as I don’t buy your little routine. Stick to the topic and I will have no problems with you. I seek and welcome debate. But this is not a blog about media control.
    This warning goes out to other commenters as well. No threats, no name calling, keep the political invectives to a minimum.
    My other options are to enable TypeKey registration to comment, or shut them down completely. I’d rather do neither, but will not hesitate to do so.

  • ricksamerican says:

    Honest Liberal,
    It doesn’t really matter whether you are telling us the truth about being a liberal. That, also, is off topic. FYI, this blog is primarily about providing, sharing and evaluating information on the WOT, not arguing politics. Your posts tend to make you the center of the conversation, which I am sure is quite gratifying, but that has the effect of derailing and marginalizing the substantive discussion.
    There are both liberals and conservatives posting here–about the WOT and sometimes on the MSM and Blogosphere roles in advancing or harming the American effort. We are here looking for information about the war that is not generally provided by the MSM. You will see that occasionaly a commentor will challenge Bill’s facts or interpretations, or provide new supporting or contradictory evidence from a media outlet–something of a substantive nature. And Bill responds. You can see all of this in the current thread. You do not seem interested in or able to contribute to this discussion. Do you know anything factual about the WOT that you would like to share, or do you have information that will clarify or elucidate the subject of the post? If so I would like to hear it.
    If your point is, and after a couple dozen posts I would have to assume that is, that liberals are intentionally and purposefully misrepresenting the actual situation on the ground in Iraq in order to subvert the American war effort and damage the administration, and rule the world, consider your point made. No one here believes that you or anyone else will ulitmately accomplish anything substantial or lasting by media manipulation alone. It hasn’t happened, isn’t happening, and wont happen.
    But now that you have made your point, you should go make it somewhere else where perhaps that is the focus of the blog. I would ask other posters here, as others already have, to simply ignore you. I certainly intend to go back to ignoring you from this point on.
    Steven–if you are still with us. The unfortunate thing about a fragmented society like ours is that there is no common ethos, no broad-based agreement on fundamental truths or attitudes, and that makes it impossible to recognize irony or satrire–which is a conscious, deliberate, and outrageous deviation from those shared foundational truths. By definition these deviations have to be outrageous enough be recognized as ironical. Honest Liberal’s candour is so naive and his comments so pathetically disconnected from reality that it is almost impossible to fathom them except as irony, which is why you and I both took him to be a satarist at first. Yet he insists he is what he appears. That makes him–to my mind–either tiresome as a practical joker or else absurd in himself and unworthy of being taken seriously.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    An update on the Basra situation.
    “British forces using tanks broke down the walls of the central jail in the southern city of Basra tonight and freed two Britons – allegedly undercover commandos – who had been arrested on charges of shooting two Iraqi policemen.”
    Something tells me the Brits have lost patience with the Mahdi Army –

  • AMac says:

    A second for ricksamerican’s exposition, two up (2:08pm). Bill Roggio and Justin needn’t write one more word about their objectives for this site. Each regular reader has formed his or her own opinion by now. New readers will catch on fast.

    People who insist on contributing comments that are repititous and off the post’s topic should exercise their gift of writing at their own blogspot sites. Whether such silliness is meant to be taken at face value or ironically is immaterial. Either way, it’s spam to the post’s author, and to most readers.

  • leaddog2 says:

    I will agree. As a Marine, people like liberal make me sick.
    I have seen more recent information that the actual voter turn-out in Afghanistan was actually between 80 & 85%. Should we double check? I do not really think the media is going
    to say much positive, you know.

  • USMC_Vet says:

    This is not power, but impotence. The Taliban may have an underground ‘army’ and access to Pakistan’s chaotic tribal regions, but their ability to influence day to day events and their relevance in the future of Afghanistan diminishes yearly.

    Could not agree more.
    It appears with the past 36 hours’ events that even I was too kind to the Taliban’s capabilites late last week when I called into doubt reports of their ‘dominance’ of South Waziristan and claims that they are on the mend.
    Have a look-see at the past 36 hours worth of Taliban (in)action. Proof’s in the puddin’.
    Of course, this is no cause for the usual suspects to re-evaluate their panting cries of returning troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to finish the job.
    Funny thing, Victory.

  • Rookie says:

    Soldier’s Dad
    Thanks for the news; I missed that… really weird stuff, British forces had to demolish a jail to get their people back… something REALLY wrong is going on in Basra, and what was the safest city in Iraq in 2003 could transform in a nightmare now. Maybe the idea to consider militias as “Iraqi internal affair” was not so bright.
    Bill, I appreciate your tolerance against people who obviously are inciting this board. I admit that I’m not a tolerant guy, but you clearly show that you’re more interested in spreading the truth about anti-terror war and try to make an informed analysis rather than banning people at the first sign of “deviance”.
    As your site is increasing fast in audience, the open comment board will atract more and more people who hate alternative information. What’s counting in the end are the first 30-40 lines of the page, the article itself.
    Thank you.

  • AMac says:

    The ~50% voter turnout estimates seem to be reasonable extrapolations from many sources. Doesn’t look like “spin” to me right now.

    Afghan News Network says But smaller than expected queues suggested a lower turnout than the 70% of last year’s presidential poll.

    Radio Free Europe says Nevertheless, JEMB chief electoral officer Peter Erben says initial reports on turnout suggest only about 6 million of the 12 million registered voters had cast ballots. That is far lower than the presidential election of October 2004, when more than 8 million voters participated. Erben’s projection supports remarks by local poll workers and independent monitors who say turnout was far lower than expected — mostly because of security fears and frustrations about the inclusion of notorious Afghan warlords on the ballots.

  • leaddog2 says:

    Whatever the true number, it was a SMASHING SUCCESS. Funny, the “lame stream meia silence” about a successful Bush administration policy is DEAFENING!

  • leaddog2 says:

    We also see only NEGATIVE Lame Stream COMMENTS on Morth Korea’s statement. (I am suspicious, but hopeful).
    The Lame Streamers seem to be only hateful.

  • leaddog2 says:

    typos — Sorry! North and media

  • Mider says:

    That is interesting about the turnout. I have been out of the loop for a few days working. I haven’t heard the election was even happening, even though I listen to the radio on the road. Then I searched a few sites and see the turnout was lower than expected but still eclipsed 50%. That’s pretty good considering their situation. We hit 55.3% in the 2004 election with no fear of terrorism at the polls. Imagine if Americans knew they may be shelled or suicide bombed at a polling place, we would have 10% turnout. If only the MSM can say “yeah for freedom”, after all they do claim themselves to be internationalists don’t they? More like Bush haters in my book. Peace! God Bless America and our Beloved Troops!

  • rascoe says:

    You just don’t understand…
    STEPHANOPOULOS: So we’re losing in Afghanistan,

  • John Anderson says:

    So far, so good.
    But while Taliban said they would disrupt the election it apparently also said it would not attack voting places or voters. So, watch for attempts at destroying the ballots before they can be counted.


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