KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — International forces in Afghanistan might have won most of the clashes they fought with insurgents, but they nevertheless have still lost much of the country, a new analysis concludes.
In a grim assessment of the war, the non-partisan Center for Strategic and International Studies finds the U.S. and allied effort wanting.
“The U.S. failed to focus on the needs and security of the Afghan people,” the report out this week concludes.
“It also failed to properly resource the war and to provide effective leadership.”
The analysis, based largely on Pentagon and NATO data, finds the Afghan government and outside aid efforts have failed to meet even the basic needs of Afghans.
Afghan forces were simply treated as “adjuncts” rather than as true partners of the International Security Assistance Force, the analysis by the Washington-based think-tank concludes.
“The end result was that the U.S. and its allies won largely meaningless tactical clashes while steadily losing the country and the people,” says Anthony Cordesman’s report.
“The Taliban and other insurgents were winning the war; they fought to dominate the population and defeat the U.S. and its allies through a war of political attrition.”
The report mirrors a similarly bleak assessment delivered to the UN Security Council this week by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In its report, the centre argues that coalition forces engaged in a pattern of fighting that inflicted serious civilian casualties and collateral damage.
The result contributed to a steady erosion in support from Afghans.
While the latest United Nations data show a decline in the proportion of civilian deaths caused by international forces, they still accounted for 20 per cent of them in the first 10 months of 2009.
Overall, civilian casualties were up almost 11 per cent from January to October over the same period in 2008.
Citing polling data, the analysis indicates that Afghans felt coalition forces exposed them to insurgent violence.
The report also suggests that U.S. President Barack Obama and senior military officials have recognized the shortcomings in their approach and have begun to make changes.
Still, the data suggest the “Afghan government and NATO/ISAF have lost control over much of the country, and the Taliban and insurgents have pushed the war to the crisis stage.”
In southern Afghanistan, including the area where Canadian forces are active, the intensity of the conflict doubled between 2008 and 2009.
“The Taliban have reached their present level of success largely through strategic neglect that created a virtual power vacuum in much of the country,” the report concludes.