August 18, 2009
The Taliban's Strategy and the Elections
I wonder what the Taliban's strategy for these elections is. I am guessing it is one of highly calculated violence. Because I am pretty sure they do not want Abdullah Abdullah to win, yet the places in which the Taliban and the Haqqani Network can sow the most chaos -- the South, the East -- are those areas in which a real drop in voter turnout could hurt Karzai's chances for victory in either round.
If you're the Quetta Shura Taliban and the Haqqani Network, then, you are in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, you want to create an environment fear and insecurity. (So spectacular attacks in Kabul are especially useful.) On the other hand, you do not want to create so much fear and insecurity that your favored candidate -- who, honestly, is probably Karzai -- loses.
[Incidentally, if you look at the photo accompanying this article, that would be a U.S. Army O-6 out there in front of ISAF HQ carrying wounded. When was the last time you saw something like that? Nice work there, Jim.]