Darkness closes in on Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan turns bleaker every single day, it seems.

In a CNN report from earlier today, the lead U.S. Army officer stated that it was right for all to be worried.

"We should be concerned. The loss of terrain and the rapidity of that loss of terrain has -- has to be concerning. One, because it's a -- war is physical, but it's also got a psychological or moral component to it. And hope actually matters. And morale actually matters," said Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller. "And so, as you watch the Taliban moving across the country, what you don't want to have happen is that the people lose hope and they believe they now have a foregone conclusion presented to them." (Article link.)

This article painted a dire enough picture, but hours later, news dropped that U.S. forces had departed the sprawling, massive Bagram Airfield without even notifying Afghan forces. These troops only found out a couple of hours later. (And after looting was well underway.)

Again, not exactly the kind of transfer of power or treatment of an ally that one would wish for.

But this nasty episode was buried by the shocking report that more than 1,000 Afghan soldiers had fled into neighboring Tajikistan to get away from Taliban attacks.

Such numbers strain comprehension, but the Washington Post article announced that this wasn’t exactly new. Stunningly, this was the third wave of fleeing Afghan soldiers, bringing the number to nearly 1,600 who have bolted into Tajikistan, according to the BBC.

The Afghan national government in Kabul (hundreds and hundreds of miles away) seems unconcerned, stating “vast areas” of Badakhshan province were cleared of Taliban fighters. (This, according to a statement on Twitter by Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman.)

But that might not be the actual truth. One local stated that “situation is unfortunately not good.” (Comment by Ahmad Javed, a member of Badakhshan’s provincial council.)

I had hoped that the anti-government forces fighting under the Taliban banner would have less local support as Americans departed. Surely, with the great enemy and foreign invader gone, there would be less reason to kill their fellow Afghan countrymen, right?

But this has seemed not to be the case. Not only have the Afghan forces lost the support of a modest level of American troops (about 5 to 8,000), they have apparently also lost their spine.

The only positive news I've seen of late is there have been several articles citing a surging movement by local Afghans to form militias to fight the Taliban. (Which is what one does in a war-torn country when the military turns tail and runs.)

The upside on this front is these militias seems to be fighting better than the majority of the Afghan National Army. (This is also what one does when you’re fighting for your home just down the road.)

The downside is militias may lead to provincial warlords fighting each other (and even the national government) long-term, leading to a civil war.

A horrible, decade-long civil war is how America found the country after the attacks of 9/11.

Afghanistan might be headed back there.

That’s assuming, of course, that anything can stop the Taliban.

And so far, at least, it appears nothing can.

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