Afutilestan XII (Letterman Update)

A new poll conducted by ICOS among young men of fighting age in two of Afghanistan’s most violent provinces shows that 92% of them never heard of 9/11.

Democracy Now sums it up:

Attacks In other news from Afghanistan, a new public opinion poll of young Afghan men in Kandahar and Helmand provinces has been released by the International Council on Security and Development. The poll founded that 92 percent of young men in those regions knew nothing about the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States; 40 percent think NATO forces are there “to destroy Islam” or Afghanistan itself; 61 percent believe that Afghan national security forces will not be able to cope without international support; and 56 percent suspect that Afghan policemen are helping the Taliban.

While the way the 9/11 question was asked likely skewed the percentage upwards (e.g. some 68% recognized a picture of the collapsing Twin Towers), the near total lack of a media infrastructure, a national illiteracy rate of 72%, combined with a lot of collateral damage– well, that’s going to make winning hearts and minds of Afghans one hell of a hard sell.

Recall that  the author of President Obama‘s Afghanistan strategy, General David Pertraeus, has said a military victory there is out of the question. Only a political resolution has a chance of succeeding long term. And how might negotiations toward that end be going , you ask?  Well, the lead story in the NY Times this morning is titled:

Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Impostor

For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement.</p> <p>But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all. In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little.

“It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions. And we gave him a lot of money.

Punked again.

Oh, and Obama’s pledge to withdraw from the country beginning July of 2011? Fugeddabout it. Petraeus just moved that date three years into the future, and we all know who the boss is on that score:

U.S. to Leave Afghanistan in 2011 2014 Never

Remember how the U.S. got its military out of Iraq in 2010? Us neither. But on Friday in Lisbon, NATO is going to announce a light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan, set to flicker in 2014. Only just like Iraq, it won’t actually mean the decade-old war will end.

But that’s not the message that the Obama administration is sending in the press. Facing a protracted, unpopular war, President Obama will give his NATO colleagues a plan to start withdrawing U.S. forces in July and “ending the American combat mission there by 2014,” the New York Times reports. Blink and you’ll miss it, but the key word there is combat. The U.S. does much more in Afghanistan than just fight the Taliban, like training Afghan soldiers and police. And after 2014 passes, they’ll continue doing just that.

I remember reading a sci-fi novel a few decades back by Joe Haldeman titled The Forever War. Don’t remember the premise off-hand, but the title sure fits our present day involvement in Afghanistan.

Just ask any of the candidates who ran for national office this month, none of whom were even asked by M$M about their position on keeping this insanity going.

UPDATE: 11/27/10

David Letterman helpfully provides a Taliban Negotiator Impostor Watch List:

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