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Afghan troops keep killing US troops

Two more US soldiers were killed in a gunfight with an Afghan soldier today, bringing the total to six Americans killed in incidents since Qurans were burned at a US base.

By Staff writer / March 1, 2012

An Afghan soldier and an Afghan civilian employee murdered two US soldiers at a base near the southern city of Kandahar today.

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That brings the total so-called green on blue killings in Afghanistan to six since an Afghan witnessed US soldiers dumping Qurans into a burn bit at Bagram Air Base a week ago. The heightened levels of violence since then, with mobs besieging NATO and UN compounds across Afghanistan, brings into stark relief the fundamental failure of the US-led mission in Afghanistan OVER the past 10 years.

There are growing, not decreasing, numbers of Afghans angry at the foreign occupation. Corruption and thuggery within the Afghan government installed and protected by NATO remain rampant and the Taliban remain active across large parts of the country. 

Though much of the blame for the failings of the Afghan government lie with Afghans like President Hamid Karzai, who owes his current position to a fraud-marred election two years ago, the large presence of foreign troops and the vast cultural gulf between them and most Afghans, make them convenient targets for public ire.

And the willingness of Afghan soldiers to turn their guns on US forces, usually in heavily fortified installations in what amount to suicide missions, is a dark indication of the fragility of the local forces being built – and of their loyalty to the state. For every Afghan soldier who takes such a drastic step, there are surely more who are sympathetic with their aims.

At the end of January, Pentagon officials told a Senate hearing that 70 NATO soldiers have been killed by Afghan forces since 2007. The murder of two US officers in the heart of the Afghan Interior Ministry last week prompted the withdrawal of hundreds of US and other foreign advisers from Afghan government installations. The Interior Ministry and the rest of the Afghan government are almost entirely financed by European and American taxpayers and are now without hands-on oversight from those nations.

To be sure, NATO press releases and embedded reporters continue to pump out anecdotes of steady progress, like this piece from a few days ago titled "Stability takes root in Kandahar." In the article, Capt. Widmar Roman explains: "The amount of security down here is unparalleled compared to what people have seen in the past."

Perhaps. But stories of "slow but steady progress" have been common over the past decade of war. And it's natural that mission-focused soldiers and officers report progress in the areas under their control. The Pentagon wants to present a view of progress to maintain support for the war, and the can-do qualities of soldiers inculcates in them a bias towards optimism, particularly when talking to the press.

But quantitative analysis is something else again. Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has been mining data on both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since their inception, has a far grimmer outlook.


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