The Washington Post
has an story discussing the recent surge of violence in Afghanistan. What is interesting about this piece is the connection between the insurgency in Iraq and these developments in "relatively" calm Afghanistan.
I remember a comment Russ Feingold made in response to the administration claim that the Iraqi military were increasing their effectiveness in countering the insurgents. After reading the Post piece, I think his words are quite accurate:
Just recently, President Bush told the country that "with each engagement, Iraqi soldiers grow more battle-hardened and their officers grow more experienced." Unfortunately, the same is true of the foreign fighters. Iraq has become a prime on-the-job training ground for jihadists from around the world - terrorists who are getting experience in overcoming U.S. countermeasures, experience in bombing, and experience in urban warfare - they may well be getting a better education in terrorism than jihadists received at al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan. And they don't just have skills - they now have contacts. They are building new, transnational networks, making the most of Al Qaeda's new model of supporting loosely affiliated franchise-type organizations. Press reports suggest that the CIA is calling this emerging threat the "class of '05 problem." Mr. President, all of us, on both sides of the aisle, should be thinking about how to ensure that there is no similar class of '06.
The argument that Iraq is the new training ground for terrorism is one Democrats should adopt en masse. Especially when we have more tangible evidence that Feingold is bang on:
An onslaught of grisly and sophisticated attacks since parliamentary elections in September has left Afghan and international officials concerned that Taliban guerrillas are obtaining support from abroad to carry out strikes that increasingly mimic insurgent tactics in Iraq.
The recent attacks -- including at least nine suicide bombings -- have shown unusual levels of coordination, technological knowledge and blood lust, according to officials. Although military forces and facilities have been the most common targets, religious leaders, judges, police officers and foreign reconstruction workers have also fallen prey to the violence...
But Yonts acknowledged "grave concern" among U.S. officials over the idea that the Taliban might be taking a page from Iraqi insurgents' playbook by attacking with explosives in cities.
Afghan officials said the recent attacks demonstrate that the Taliban fighters are continuing to receive considerable outside assistance, such as advanced explosives and computerized timing devices that are being used to build more devastating bombs.
"There has been . . . more money and more weapons flowing into their hands in recent months," Defense Minister Rahim Wardak said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. "We see similarities between the type of attacks here and in Iraq."
The insurgency in Iraq has become sophisticated, modernized and most of all effective. Iraq is now a training center for would be jihadists and they are exporting their tactics and message. Not only are we losing the battle in Iraq, we are now beginning to deal with the legacy of instructing a new wave of fanatics. The insurgents success against coalition forces only serves to embolden other extremists. Why wouldn't the remnants of the Taliban not feel empowered, knowing that they have allies that have been successful?
It is reasonable to assume that the insurgency in Iraq has ties to other liked-minded groups. We are moving from loosely, isolated cells of jihadists to a structured, sophisticated network that shares information and perfects its craft. The uptick of violence in Afghanistan should serve as a grave reminder of the costs of continued occupation. If the goal was to make America safe, increasingly it is obvious we are accomplishing the exact opposition. Democrats need to make this case, LOUD AND CLEAR.