Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
(A U.S. soldier searches an Afghan man in Kandahar. Reuters/Jonathon Burch)
If you believe the official line from U.S. and NATO commanders in Afghanistan, the upcoming offensive in Kandahar involving no less than 23,000 foreign and Afghan troops will involve a lot of polite words, meeting with tribal elders and “talking” the Taliban out of their spiritual home.
The soft rhetoric over the biggest ground operation of the nine-year war has even drawn similarities to the infamous comments made by the then British Defence Secretary John Reid, when Britain expanded its mission into Helmand in early 2006. Reid said he hoped Britain’s “peacekeeping” mission, expected to last three years, would be completed without a shot being fired.
Commanders and military officials have certainly been trying their best to play down the military side to the campaign, stressing its political aspect of bringing the Afghan government into the troubled province.
Even the language adopted by officials shows a distinct change.
At a recent news conference in Kabul, the new spokesman for the NATO-led force, a German general, chose his words carefully when describing the operation.