The Washington Post has a story today on how the U.S. and Afghan government’s plan to lure fighters away from insurgency is a miserable failure.
Lured to quit the insurgency by the government’s promise of a job, land for his family and an end to the misery of fighting, Mohammed illustrated the hope of the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, for ultimately bringing about an end to the eight-year-old war. Programs to reintegrate former fighters into Afghan society, and perhaps even turn them against their brothers in the insurgency, are at the core of the Obama administration’s new strategy.
Yet Mohammed’s experience offers a cautionary tale: Four months after he gave himself up, the Afghan government has reneged on all its commitments, leaving him unemployed and his family of 10 with nowhere to live. Hunted by the Taliban and fearful of the U.S. military, he spends much of his time in hiding.
While Obama has repeatedly suggested the war effort is against Al Qaeda, and repeatedly connected Al Qaeda with the Taliban, complete with invocations of 9/11, the truth (that he knows very well) is that most insurgents aren’t loyal to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, or share their ideologies, but simply that they are fed up with foreign troops on their land killing innocent civilians and a corrupt and ineffectual government. They join the insurgents in some cases to put bread on their table.
“Now my children ask me why we can’t go back to the way it was when I was fighting,” he said, saying his family lived better while on the Taliban payroll. “I don’t have an answer.”