Huntsman's claim of Taliban defeat is not reality
November 22nd, 2011
11:20 PM ET

Huntsman's claim of Taliban defeat is not reality

From CNN National Security Producer Jennifer Rizzo

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman suggested a total defeat of the Taliban during CNN's Republican presidential debate on national security issues Tuesday night –- with Huntsman’s comments standing in stark contrast to the reality of the continuing attacks by the group in the country.

"We have dismantled the Taliban, we've run them out of Kabul," the former Utah governor said when explaining why he believes the United States should have a much smaller troop presence in Afghanistan than the almost 100,000 troops there now. "We need a presence on the ground that is more akin to 10-to-15,000 that will help with intelligence gathering and special forces responsibility."

But the Taliban continues to be a threat, and attacks orchestrated by the group continue month after month in-country.

A few examples...

- A string of bloody attacks launched earlier this month were blamed on the Taliban. Eleven people died after a roadside bomb exploded in the northwestern Afghanistan province of Badghis. Another seven civilians were killed and 17 wounded during a Taliban suicide attack at a mosque in the Jirqishlaq Hasan Tal area of Baghlan province. And six members of the Afghan security forces were hurt after a suspected Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up in the vicinity of Pul-e Khumri in Baghlan.

- In October 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside a U.N. compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Officials linked the bombing to the Taliban.

- And in September three high-profile attacks - one against the CIA compound in Kabul, a second against the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in the capital city, and still another when a suicide bomber killed the lead negotiator in the Taliban peace process - were tied to the Haqqani network that is closely allied with the Taliban.

Progress has, however, been made against the extremist group that ruled Afghanistan before the United States overthrew them, according to commanders in the field.

"We have reliable information showing that large numbers of Taliban and insurgent leaders are choosing to phone in their operational orders from Pakistan, abandoning their own foot soldiers, who are left behind to conduct the fighting," said the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Gen. John Allen, after the recent Taliban attacks this month. "The leaders have fled, forced out by the overwhelming ability of Afghan and coalition forces.”

But even though the Taliban is weakened, the ability of insurgents to hide across the border in Pakistan continues to be a great threat to success in Afghanistan, according to the latest Pentagon evaluation of the war.

"The insurgency's safe havens in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan Government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable, stable Afghanistan," according to the "Report on Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan," a Congressionally mandated evaluation of the war's progress that the Pentagon provides twice a year.

- CNN's Charley Keyes contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Afghanistan • Huntsman • Kabul • Taliban
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. mbelledu

    As Mr. Huntsman said during the debate: "Did you just hear what I said?" He said "dismantle." He did not say or even suggest "total defeat." Yes, he should have said "severely disrupted" or something like that. But, his choice of words under pressure is miles ahead of the other inarticulate, semi-articlutate, or 'canned' debaters. Listen to the way Mr. Romney pronounces "modernity." This is probably a relatively new word for him and he spouts it off as a kind of malapropism. It sounds just lovely–as if Pakistan CAN be brought into modernity with a wave of one nice, nouveau-riche, awkwardly pronounced word.

    The truth of the matter, intelleigently and carefully laid out by George Friedman in The Next Hundred Years, is that the U.S. has sufficiently and adequately disrupted both the Taliban and Al Qaeda so that our country can cautiously move on and devote IMMENSE resources to something else. Like our own problems with debt reduction, etc.

    I am a professor, and based on what I see in our classrooms of late, deeply fear that Mr. Huntsman's level of intellectual honesty and command of facts can appeal to only a very low percentage of the population. Woe be unto any "civilization" when this becomes the case. Please voters of New Hampshire: Fulfill your traditional role of intellectual honesty and vetting the candidates for such. Set an example that maybe a few more Americans willl be heartened to follow!

    November 23, 2011 at 10:31 am | Reply
    • Mac Qurashi

      Well said. The major deficit that we have been piling on is intellectual deficit. When an athelete, who is good at throwing a ball, lives a life that others dream of and our teachers who are responsible for grooming our future leaders live from hand to mouth, our intelect will contue ot decline and misinformation will rule our politics.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:50 am | Reply
    • YouBetcha

      You see it; I see it; Mac Qurashi sees it. How I wish the less able majority could see it. Thanks, both of you. Well said indeed

      November 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  2. A L Flanagan

    Oh come on, people! As Herman Cain has explained, you don't have to know any facts about foreign policy to be President. You can always bone up on the subject during all the free time you'll have once you are elected.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:11 am | Reply
    • Leroy

      Since when do the GOP presidential nominee contenders need facts? If they can't dazzle you with brilliance, they'll indeed baffle you with B.S.

      November 24, 2011 at 12:51 am | Reply

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