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In a dramatic wave of attacks (possibly planned with help from Pakistani intelligence operatives), the Taliban struck Kabul's presidential palace, several government ministries and a multistory shopping complex.
And they did it just as President Hamid Karzai was swearing in his new Cabinet (despite a battle with parliament over the legitimacy of his picks). Think that gave Afghans renewed confidence in their government?
Yesterday's wave of bombings was a mini-Tet Offensive -- a small-scale repeat of the attacks that triggered US public opinion's turn against the Vietnam War. They were designed to explode Western claims of progress and embarrass our leaders -- and it worked.
Our self-delusion stinks of the early years in Vietnam, when Gen. Paul Harkins, our man in Saigon, claimed (in 1963) that the Vietnamese army was doing a great job, the war was being won and our troops would be home by 1965.
Recently, I read a report by an official US visitor to Afghanistan calling Karzai "brave" and describing him as the leader Afghanistan needs. Good God -- he's hiding in his presidential palace, afraid to visit the front lines and see what kind of shape his country's really in. Yesterday, the war came to him.
But they're pit bulls led by miniature poodles. Senior military leaders refuse to see our enemies for what they are -- religious fanatics with a durable tribal base -- and insist on treating them as 20th-century ideological insurgents.
Earth to Gen. Stan McChrystal: Those suicide bombers yesterday weren't Sandinistas.
Special Forces and other personnel down-range (far from the gee-whiz briefing rooms) understand that there is no Afghan nation, that we've stuck ourselves in the midst of complex tribal wars super-charged by religious fanaticism among our enemies. And, in tribal wars, you have to pick your tribes. It's not that the war in Afghanistan's unwinnable.
It's just not winnable on the ludicrous terms we've imposed upon ourselves. We want to build what can't be built and refuse to do what must be done -- and sacrifice our troops for foreign scoundrels. Poll the Afghans on the streets of Kabul today. Ask them if we're winning.