November 19, 2004

Ballots beat bullets

I think the Washington Post buried the lede in its latest assessment of the Taliban's potency:

It is also unclear why the Taliban did not attempt any large-scale election day attacks. In the days leading up to the vote, there were scattered attacks on voter registration sites and workers, but the election was largely peaceful, which surprised Afghan security officials.

One theory is that Taliban attack plans were thwarted by the heavy presence of Afghan troops, American soldiers and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which sent in reinforcement troops. Also, Pakistan, reportedly under diplomatic pressure to guarantee a peaceful election, launched a new offensive against Taliban forces in the border areas.

Another theory is that the Taliban recognized that ordinary Afghans wanted to vote, and that the high election-day turnout dissuaded its forces from further alienating the populace by attacking polling places.

"Eight million people all objected to the Taliban," said Abdullah Abdullah, the Afghan foreign minister. "With one voice, people have rejected Taliban, extremism, terrorism." The Taliban, he added, "should feel a bigger defeat than the military defeat."

The article estimates that the Taliban have between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters. Millions of Afghans went to the polls. Do the math.

Posted by Ideofact at November 19, 2004 10:25 AM