From the Afpak Journal:
Three months after the coalition's last major offensive, in Marjah, a district in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, farmers have fled a resurgent Taliban, whose campaign of violence is halting the delivery of economic aid and reconstruction (NYT, WSJ). Carlotta Gall reports on a number of instances of Taliban intimidation in Marjah, where militants forced an old man to eat his aid registration papers in a "Mafia-style warning" to others not to accept government help (NYT). U.S. officials say the situation in Marjah is "mixed" and caution that "it takes a bit of time" (WSJ).
As opposed to what is happening in Pakistan, what is going on in Afghanistan by the "coalition" appears to be more farce than reality. The whole assault on the "city" of Marja was a fraud and at most was nothing more than a bald-faced attempt to seize control of the local poppy trade. There is no military value in Marja. It was a publicity stunt for the Obama surge from the now-president who as candidate Obama could not recognize a successful surge in Iraq when it was staring him in the face.
It is a sad commentary on our times that it is the currency of this stumbling American "superpower" to which the world is turning due to perceived greater weaknesses elsewhere. But this is temporary. The portents for the near-term suggest to me that in the facedown between the golden gnomes of Zurich and the poobahs at the New York Fed and the U. S. Treasury, it will for a while be the gnomes by acclamation. Not rooting for it, just going with the currents.
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