Afghanistan Attack Makes U.S. Ambassador Eat Own Words
Just days after U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker boasted to a Washington Post columnist that Kabul’s biggest problem was “traffic," Taliban fighters infiltrated the most heavily-guarded areas of the capital to carry out a 19-hour armed siege. Wearing suicide vests and firing automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the attackers targeted a number of sites, including the most conspicuous (and well-guarded) symbols of foreign power in the country, the U.S. embassy and nearby NATO headquarters, killing and wounding at least 26 people.
That the attackers primarily used small arms on hardened targets, and even contacted reporters to claim creditwhile the assault was still underway, indicates that they learned the primary lesson of the Vietnam War’s 1968 Tet Offensive, while Americans like Crocker still haven’t. The Taliban understand they don’t need to kill many people in such an attack for it to be effective. All they need to do is demonstrate the ability to penetrate the most heavily fortified district in Kabul – which indicates they have assistance from supporters within the capital. And carrying out the assault after Crocker announced a figurative light at the end of the tunnelonly magnifies the rag-tag Taliban’s might and makes the Americans seem out of touch with reality.
Referring to recent talks of reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban, an anonymous Western official told the New York Times: “This [attack] doesn’t show reconciliation; it does show determination. If the Taliban can do this… and they can alternate it with these vehicle-borne I.E.D.’s [improvised explosive devices or car bombs] which they have been doing more of, well then this won’t be the last time.”