Monday, March 19, 2007

The Afghan Slide

Here's another poll for the 101st Chairborne to try and spin. From CTV Taliban support is on the rise.

"Canadian troops are facing another challenge in Afghanistan as Taliban support among civilians has rocketed to nearly 27 per cent." So much for hearts and minds. It is clearly time for the coalition to rethink strategies, tactics and goals throughout the region. To steal a page from CC, what are the odds that this survey falls off the Blogging Toadies radar?

"The findings stem from a large-scale survey conducted this month by Brussels-based thinktank Senlis Council. The organization polled 17,000 Afghan men in the Canadian-controlled areas of Kandahar province and in neighbouring British and U.S.-controlled regions of Helmand and Nangarhar."

How long do we maintain a failing strategy? How long do we keep feeding soldiers and money to a situation that shows every sign of getting worse? Unlike Iraq, the west had good cause to eradicate the Taliban and that seems less likely to happen by the day. The diversion of American forces and economic clout to Operation Seething Clusterfuck has scuttled the opportunity to succeed in Afghanistan. A fraction of the resources squandered in Iraq would have made a huge difference in the lives of the Afghan people. They no longer trust us and seem to be swinging toward the devil they know.

"Only 19 per cent of Afghan civilians felt that international troops were helping them personally -- with only 6.5 per cent in regions where U.S. soldiers were in control.
"The widespread perception of locals is that the international community is not helping to improve their lives," says the report.
Meanwhile, about 80 per cent of civilians said they worried about feeding their families."

What a sad mess.


thwap said...

So, with the increase in Taliban support, what will the increase in Canadian casualites be for the spring offensive.

Anonymous said...

So almost three out of four civilians do not support the Taliban (assuming that the question offered only two options) and yet we should leave? What happens, then, to the three quarters of the population that backs us?

Anonymous said...

Uh, jjm, ... re-read the whole post again.

You missed something.

Anonymous said...

"How long do we maintain a failing strategy? How long do we keep feeding soldiers and money to a situation that shows every sign of getting worse? "

Thwap, it sure sounds like PSA is advocating leaving Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

No jjm, this part:

"Only 19 per cent of Afghan civilians felt that international troops were helping them personally -- with only 6.5 per cent in regions where U.S. soldiers were in control.
"The widespread perception of locals is that the international community is not helping to improve their lives," says the report.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, thwap, I read that, too. So it seems that the vast majority of civilians in Afghanistan do not think they are being helped by the outside forces and do not support the Taliban. Obviously, the current modus operandi is not winning their "hearts and minds".

Still, Ape's comments sound like a call to fold up and go home. You seem to think otherwise; what is your take on PSA's post?

Anonymous said...

jjm: this is a false dichotomy - clearly there are more options than (a) "maintaining a failing strategy"; and (b) "folding up and going home".

That said, if there were only the two choices, is there any reason that option (a) would be better than option (b)?

Lindsay Stewart said...

jjim, at this point in the endless war against, oh, someone or other, there are only a few options available. we can say fuck it and pull out. this leaves a ruined nation in ruins. something i am not necessarily advocating. on the other hand, we can hang about feeding goods lives into the chipper as the situation continues to deteriorate. also not a great option.

the west and the coalition have lost the moral high ground. after half a decade, we have not made life better and more secure for the afghan people. we have not, quite obviously, beaten the taliban. there are no easy answers. the only thing i can think of, would be for the americans, whom i blame fully for the failure in afghanistan, to pull their stupid asses out of the civil war they started in iraq. redeploy a considerable force to afghanistan, rout the taliban, find bin laden and use the forces to actually do the rebuilding that we promised.

as for canadian forces, i would like to see us return to our role as peace keepers. over the last half century, we developed a great international reputation, it is a shame to see that reputation squandered. if we stay in afghanistan it should be as peace keepers, not as combattants. in any case it may be too damn late to reverse the course.

up to now, i haven't heard a single thoughtful alternative from the right. stay the course? fuck that. the course that bush and his idiot mob want to stay has failed. we are merely presiding over a long, slow and grinding defeat. i have friends in both the active and reserve forces. none of them want to be deployed to afghanistan. they're busy looking for options within the forces to avoid deployment, through education and through specialization. and some are looking for ways to leave the forces altogether. one thing that they all seem to agree on, is that the mission is failed and it is failed from the top down.

Sean Pelette said...

The CTV report says "Taliban support among civilians has rocketed to nearly 27 per cent". However, the poll was taken in only 3 southern provinces as was limited to men. Maybe Senlis could balance this poll by conducting one of 17,000 women in the same 3 provinces.

Of course its also misleading for Senlis to declare the results as representing "Afghanis in southern Afghanistan" or "Only 19 per cent of Afghan civilians felt that" or "about 80 per cent of civilians said" when what they really mean is Afgan men in 3 southern provinces.

Ahhh, tendentious summaries of your own poll results. No agenda there of course.

Anonymous said...


It seems to me that the poll was pretty up-front about whom they polled and where. It seems extreme to expect them to replace "Afghanis" with "Afghani men in Kandahar, Helmand and Nangarhar" in each and every sentence. Most people have the literacy skills to sort that out.

Should they have polled women as well? It would be nice; perhaps it would also be much more difficult, I can't say. I think you're imagining things, however, if you think the results would be different by more than a few percentage points.

Should they have polled other provinces? Support for the Taliban in provinces where there is no Taliban presence doesn't seem terribly relevant.

Lindsay Stewart said...

well sean, why is it, do you think, that this poll was conducted with only men? i have my guess. when i looked at the report, i figured that there was some slant to it. but i think that about every poll i look at. the poll used a sample of 17,000, which is considerably larger than many political polls conducted in north america. tendentious? perhaps. misleading? only if the collected data is misinterpreted to fit an agenda.

Lindsay Stewart said...

rather than quibbling over slants, i went and read the senlis report. their bias seems to be toward defeating the taliban, supporting the karzai government and helping the afghan people. i invite the jjims and seans to go and read the document. much of what they say makes pretty good sense.

Sean Pelette said...

adam c,

They polled Afghan men in 3 southern provinces, but instead of saying that in their press release they substitute 'Afghan civillians', which suggests to anyone reading the press release that the results are much broader than they really are.

You have the literary skills to figure that out. What you don't seem to have are the basic logical skills necessary to work out that a particular observation does not lead to a universal conclusion.

26.8% of men from 3 provinces is not represenatative of Afghan civillians. Its representative of Afghan men in 3 southern provinces. Phrasing the results as, "Taliban support among civilians has rocketed to nearly 27 per cent", is misleading.

If they had polled 1700 women from the same region and found that 99% did not support the Taliban would you conclude that the coalition strategy was an outstanding success and need not be changed? Would you be more inclined to reach that conclusion if I substituted "99% of Afghan civilians do not support the Taliban".


17000 is a large number so one would expect the margin for error in this poll to be pretty slim.

Since males are the ones who would be doing any of the fighting, it is alarming to find out that almost 30% of them in areas where the Taliban are most active actually support them. Though I am curious to find out if there were previous polls done of Afghan men in the same region and how the results may have changed.

Also SENLIS is devoted to changing the war on drugs. While i might agree with that, I don't think misrepresenting their findings is the way to do it. That only undermines their credibility.

Anonymous said...


I wasn't actually trying to impugn your literacy skills. Be careful belittling my logic.

You are not actually quoting the Senlis press release; that quote was from the CTV writeup. Exactly two sentences later CTV spells out precisely who was surveyed in order to reach that conclusion.

I maintain that most people (including, obviously, yourself) are able to connect the two. I fail to see the mendacity.

Boy, I'm feeling wordy today...

Alison said...

psa : Odd how few bloggers have posted on this, let alone blogging tories.
Perhaps because Senlis advocate continued intervention in Afghanistan but think the current emphasis on the military aspect is fucked, the report doesn't fit neatly into either a pro or con camp.