Don't Panic!: How many civilians is the U.S. killing in Afghanistan?

The cover of Time magazine’s August 9, 2010 issue is a portrait of an 18-year-old Afghan woman named Aisha. A Taliban gang amputated Aisha’s nose and ears with a knife as punishment after Aisha had the temerity to run away from her husband’s house to escape her abusive in-laws. Left on a mountain to bleed to death, Aisha survived. She’s now a beautiful woman with a hole in the middle of her face where her nose should be.

Aisha is presented in the story as an icon of what more women could endure if and when the U.S. and its allies withdraw from Afghanistan. The international military presence couldn’t save Aisha from her attack, but if the Taliban expands its area of control in the absence of a military opponent, Taliban gangsters will likely be able to gets their hands on even more Aishas.

I shouldn’t say if. It’s really a when. American generals and politicians have for years been saying that the ultimate solution to the Afghan war will be political rather military. In plain English, that means American leaders have accepted that we will not eliminate the Taliban or Talibanism with military force. The initial success of Bush’s Operation Enduring Freedom was a single victorious battle in a long war. Every year since their overthrow, the Taliban have gained strength. There will never be a World War II-like surrender ceremony where Mullah Omar or some other Talibastard sits at a table with Gen. David “Don’t Call Him Betray Us” Petraeus to sign a surrender treaty denouncing all things Taliban. The best we can hope for is a political settlement that allows the Taliban control of certain parts of Afghanistan, as well as representation in the Afghan government.

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