Winning against guerilla warfare?

Sometime you happen find an article which fits pretty well with your opinion about a subject. Today, Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent for the Toronto Sun, gives his own thoughts about the guerilla our soliders is fighting in Afganistan. Here are some excerpts.

Doesn’t anyone remember the Vietnam War’s fruitless search and destroy missions and inflated body counts? Don’t NATO commanders know their every move is telegraphed in advance to Taliban forces? Don’t they see what’s going on now in Iraq?

Did Canadian officers making such fanciful claims really believe Taliban’s veteran guerillas would be stupid enough to sit still and be destroyed by US air power?

Now, Canadian-led NATO forces are crowing about having finally occupied Panjewi. ‘Taliban has fled!’ they proudly announced. Don’t they understand that guerilla forces don’t hang on to fixed positions? Occupying ground is meaningless in guerilla warfare.

If something has to be learned from Vietnam War, and also from the war on Lebanon by Israël some months ago, it’s that it is very difficult to fight against warriors hiding on their own soil.

It’s even more difficult if the local population is on the side of the guerilla. So I ask, have we done enough to get the population on our side, and did it work? I think the answer to both of these questions is no. And because of that, I think our chances of a military victory against the Taliban are rather tiny.

What the west calls ‘Taliban’ is actually a growing coalition of veteran Taliban fighters led by Mullah Dadullah, other clans of Pashtun tribal warriors, and nationalist resistance forces led by Jalalladin Hakkani and former prime minister, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, whom the CIA has repeatedly tried to assassinate.

That’s something I was suspecting for some time: if the “Taliban” regained in force, it means that more people joined their fight against the occupants. But it’s better for NATO to say they are only fighting the Taliban and pretend there is no other insurgency groups involved.

The UN’s anti-narcotic agency reports Afghanistan now supplies 92% of the world’s heroin. Production has surged 40% last year alone. Who is responsible? The US and NATO. They now own narco-state Afghanistan.


Washington and NATO can’t keep pretending this is someone else’s problem. Drug money fuels the Afghan economy and keeps local warlords loyal to the US-installed Kabul regime.

So in other words, we are protecting narco-traficants in order to better fight the insurgents and the terrorists. Am I the only one who thinks this is absurd?

If I summarize, we are fighting the Taliban and other insurgency groups, have little support from the population, and need assistance from narco-traficants warlords in order to just hold our positions (because only a small part of Afgan territory is “under control”). I think the NDP is pretty wise to recommend immediate withdrawal of our troops.

On a side note: although it clearly doesn’t gives us a general portrait, there is a nice photography on our National Defence website showing Canadian soliders in the middle of a cannabis field in Afganistan. (via Dominion Weblog)



At first I thought this would be a post about fighting large monkeys. I think you might want to change “guerilla” in this post to “guerilla army”.

Michel Fortin

Hum, well you’re right Joe: the title was quite misleading. I hadn’t really thought about homonyms when writing the original title. Should be better now.


I agree that we are not doing enough to win the war, but in the other way, i believe that we are fighting the war in the wrong way, the geneva convention states that fighting a war without a uniform that is visible from a distance is prohibited, and there fore i believe that the taliban removes themselves from the protection of the geneva convention, allowing our armed forces to do thier job. The problem now is that the media is there and they broadcast everything that our troops do, and they would broadcast what our troops would have to do to win the war, therefore the problem is the people back home who do not understand the measures armed forces have to go through to win against guerilla war. Now to win against this type of warfare, ones army would have to rusort to the basest levels of warfare, something like what the british did in the Boer war, concentartion camps, things like that.

Michel Fortin

Aaron, if to win against guerrilla warfare we need to setup concentration camps, then it’s not an acceptable solution.

If we can’t get support from the local population, it may be because they don’t like our politics there and our unconditional support given to a corrupted government. There is a political side to the war in Afganistan, and no one seems keen to address it.

I think that if we’re not willing to address that problem, then our troops should get back here. And threatening to witdraw our troops may be a good way to put pressure on the Afghan government so that it reforms itself willingly.

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