Anti-Taliban Campaign Aborted, General Says
The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan failed to follow through after ousting the Taliban government in 2001, setting the stage for this year’s deadly resurgence of violence, the NATO commander in the country said Tuesday.
The mistake was in adopting “a peacetime approach” too early, British Lt. Gen. David Richards told Pentagon reporters. He said the international community has six months to correct the problem before losing Afghan support, reiterating a warning he issued last week.
“The Taliban were defeated.... And it looked all pretty hunky-dory,” Richards said of the situation in Afghanistan at the end of 2001. “We thought it was all done,” he added, and didn’t work to curb the Taliban remnants aggressively enough.
Progress on security, rebuilding and good government didn’t meet Afghan expectations, and this year the Taliban exploited the frustrations of the people, Richards said in a televised conference from Afghanistan.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has seen a sharp rise in insurgent bombings and rocket attacks this year. Since the Taliban was overthrown, many of Afghanistan’s former rulers are believed to have found sanctuary in Pakistan.