Michael's Dispatches

Interesting Afghan Statistics

15 February 2009
 
One must always be careful with statistics, and especially so when dealing with insurgencies.  The numbers tend to lag behind the true current situation.  For instance, in July of 2007, when John Burns and I both were telling millions of Americans that "the Surge" was working, our casualties actually were at nearly the highest during the entire war.  And so, using statistics, someone could have ripped us apart or accused us of carrying the water for the President.  But in fact, though attacks were very high, it was obvious that we were turning the tables in Iraq and the situation was dramatically improving.  Likewise, when I reported from Afghanistan during 2006, saying explicitly, in plain language, that we were losing, some people used statistics to discredit those reports.  In this type of warfare, the statistics can be extremely misleading.  Yet I do pay attention to the statistics.  The difficulty comes in applying proper context.
 
Please see this interesting report.


Comments   

 
# Simon 2009-02-15 16:06
The most worrying line for me in there is the huge fall in favourable opinion of the US from 83 to 47%. The series of recent high-profile airstrikes causing civilian casualties may be largely responsible.

Thankfully the Taliban aren't, apparently, managing to capitalise on this. Their support is still low (assuming the sampling is complete and the respondents are being honest - after all, when a Westerner comes around to interview your village, you are naturally going to tell them you don't support the Taliban).
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# Paul S. 2009-02-15 21:12
Add to the mix, from Long War Journal, 15 February:

"Pakistan to end military operation and implement sharia in Malakand Division."
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# M. Simon 2009-02-17 04:59
We will never get a handle on Afghanistan until we deal effectively with the part opium growing and smuggling plays in their economy.

The short version: the opium trade is responsible for a significant portion of the Afghan economy. By fighting that trade in Afghanistan we drive Afghanis towards the Taliban. And the Taliban are against opium but for the opium trade. The one time they cracked down on opium growing was due to a glut which caused the stocks they held to decline in value.

We have a war on drugs which is morphing into a war on guns and giving Afghanistan to the Taliban. I don't see the advantage in that. No doubt a commenter will explain it to me.
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# Jamie G. 2009-02-17 16:11
I'm sorry, but I thought that Obama was going to bring the troopƒ??s home and end the war(s)? Did he not run on that particular issue during his campaign? He has already authorized two predator strikes in Pakistan and I would imagine that more are coming. Unless of course the strikes were just token strikes to show the world he will be tough on terror.

I am confused. First, the President says that Bush's $600B tax break was reckless spending to which Obama has just forced through an additional $800B stimulus plan. Someone explain how that makes sense...

Second, Obama runs on the premise that we will bring our troopƒ??s home within a year, and then he authorizes predator strikes in Pakistan. These actions will likely result in more of a troop presence to eliminate the terrorist uprising that will occur.

Could it be that the Bush administration actually had the right plan? Blasphemy!

Hey I am all for smacking the snot out of the terrorist and holding Pakistan accountable for the lack of law and control in that part of their country. It just seems to me that we have seen the first lies of our current administration. I suspect there will be MANY more to come. For someone who was the agent for change, he sure seems to be acting a lot like Bush.

I feel somewhat vindicated as a conservative knowing that Bush had it right when it came to his revised strategy on Iraq and Afghanistan. I guess the Obama administration is finding out that itƒ??s a little harder to win a war and manage an economy then just putting something down on paper.

With respect to the economic situation in Afghanistan; I am not worried so much about the opium problem. Unless they are given an alternative to making a decent living and putting food on the table can we really expect them to stop doing it? (From what I understand opium is not illegal to produce it in that part of the world either).

The one thing I think we have learned in Iraq is that unless we (or the Afghans) control the borders we cannot expect to stem the tide of insurgentƒ??s entering into the country. I say we work on controlling the borders first, ensure a stable functioning government structure second while trying to sort through the GDP issues.
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