A report from the Australian news site theage.com.au that says the Taliban have ''overwhelmed'' foreign troops and cannot be defeated by military means, one of Australia's top combat soldiers has warned. This in the same week that the Australians decide to commit to ten more years in Afghanistan.
Interestingly the British have decided to cut their military budget significantly while promising to still punch way above their weight -- anything else of course would be unmanly.
In Iraq things continue apace -- that is terribly for all concerned except the makers of armaments. The New York Times writes:
Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.Iraqi refugees forced to return to Iraq because they couldn't afford the high cost of living in neighboring countries such as Syria and Jordan have expressed regret about returning. Some 60 percent cited security concerns such as bombings, harassment, military operations and kidnappings. Geez, why are they bitching? America brought them freedom didn't they?
Seven months (222 days to be precise and a world record!) after the Iraqi elections they are still having a tough time cobbling together a ruling government. The one that is in the works includes Nouri al-Maliki and the anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr is not amenable to the US and they are expressing their reluctance to deal with such a coalition.
In Afghanistan the United States has stepped up air raids against members of al Qaeda and the Taliban. Last month, U.S-led NATO planes in Afghanistan conducted 700 missions, more than twice the number for the same month the previous year. It was also one of the highest single-month totals of the nine-year Afghan War.
It turns into whack a mole as the Taliban have now moved into the north where they are now exercising greater influence including collecting taxes on farmers in the northern Kunduz Province - and if the troops follow them there they'll go east or west or back to the south maybe the middle. And there are consequences for the Nato allies in all this as casualties are on the rise.
As for those much awaited Wikileaks release of documents related to the Iraq War, the US government is warning the news media against covering this or any future leaks. It'll be interesting to watch the firestorm when it happens as the US Supreme Court already ruled decades prior that the media is allowed to release classified documents in the public interest.
Last but not least, there's what I would call pretty good and interesting news out in Calgary, where a progressive Muslim candidate has been elected to the Mayor's office. The Globe and Mail describes Mr. Naheed Nenshi as qualified, charismatic and well-spoken, whose career path has set him up well, perhaps purposefully, for a political career. We wish him all the good luck in the world! John Ibbitson describes it as Ken Dryden's Canadian dream coming true.