Have you been paying attention to the war in Afghanistan? The situation is hopeless. Military forces have been chasing insurgents around the mountains and high deserts for years, but to little effect. The police are outmatched and intimidated, and so corrupt that they would be a net loss even if they were effective. Elected officials are worse than the police. Rival gangs fight each other as well as the state forces. Drugs flow across the border to neighboring states and weapons flow back in. Peasants are caught in the middle and have no hope for a better future.
Since December 2006, when the President called the armed forces into the fight against drug trafficking organizations, an estimated 23,000 troops and civilians have been killed, over 5,000 of them so far in 2010. The increasing militarization of the drug war has failed to stem the flow of drugs, despite $1.4 billion spent by the U.S. on training, equipment and intelligence.
All of the following incidents occurred there in the last month.
-- Gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire on the motorcade of a political candidate as he headed to a campaign event. This incident followed the shooting deaths of a mayoral candidate and of a political activist during a get-out-the-vote effort. Explosives were also thrown at two separate campaign offices. The central government offered to provide candidates for elective office with ballistic-resistant vehicles and bodyguards in the future.
-- Between last Thursday night and Friday morning, attacks between rival drug trafficking organizations left 85 people dead in places across the country, making it the bloodiest 24-hour period in the President's term of office.
-- In a single incident on Thursday, a showdown between rival drug and migrant-trafficking gangs resulted in a gunfight that left 21 people dead.
-- At least two dozen assailants raided a medical clinic in a provincial capitol city, rousting the patients and ordering them to lie face down, then executing 19 people and wounding at least 4 others. The authorities recovered 184 ejected rifle casings.
-- The bullet-riddled bodies of 18 men and 2 women were found Friday in five different parts of a major city. Authorities suspect a drug-related motive.
-- On June 29, gunmen killed 15 national police officers Monday in separate attacks, marking one of the bloodiest days for security forces since the government stepped up its fight with drug cartels.
-- On June 30, a large force of unidentified attackers stopped a police motorcade on a major highway, disarmed the police officers, executed a prisoner the police were transporting, then drove off with all the police weapons and gear they had seized.
-- Small arms fire from a gun fight in a border city struck the main government building in a city all the way on the other side of the border.
-- A drug trafficking organization has threatened local police officers in a small town, saying they will be targeted for retribution if they conduct drug busts. The police chief told reporters that the threats stemmed from an incident approximately two weeks ago, when off-duty officers surprised marijuana smugglers while riding horseback in an unincorporated border area outside the town.
-- The national army reported that nine insurgents and three of its soldiers have been killed in clashes in a remote border area, and that an army patrol in another border area came under fire with three soldiers and eight insurgents killed.
-- Police reported that last Sunday gunmen invaded the home of the mayor of a border city located in the no-man's land of the country's violent drug war, and killed him.
-- That border city, once a manufacturing center, has become the bloodiest front in the President's war against drug traffickers, with more than 5,500 people killed there since 2008. In 2010, there were 1,300 murders, including some 200 in June. (This is in a city with a population of 1.5 million. For comparison, New York City, with a population of some 8.5 million, had 471 murders in 2009.) The President has staked his political future on reining in the drug killings and has sent 8,000 soldiers and federal police to the area to try to restore order. Despite that security presence, people are abandoning their homes and politicians have been too intimidated to campaign for the upcoming elections.
-- Last week, in another border region, eight "narco-camps" were raided by the national army. Over the next few days, twelve men were killed in apparent retaliation in various incidents. Among the dead were six charred bodies and two decapitated bodies of provincial officials.
-- According to the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy Magazine, the country has risen two places (meaning that it has gotten even worse) in the index of failed states.
All of that and much more occurred in Afghanistan in just the last month. Where does President Karzai go to surrender? Because it's over.
Oops! Did I say Afghanistan? I meant Mexico. All of that happened in Mexico, our neighbor to the south, where American tourists go to play and expats go to retire.
So never mind.
Links are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.