From the opening of the movie The Kingdom. You don't often get your history lessons so compressed. The movie is not bad either.
But, as Lobjakas goes on to report:
NATO officials like to portray insurgents in Afghanistan -- grouped under the name of the Taliban -- as a straightforward hierarchy in which Islamist zealots preside over opportunistic foot soldiers that they recruit using money, intimidation, or other means.
[T]here is evidence that the "Taliban" insurgency is a more complex phenomenon that needs a more nuanced approach.
He goes on to report about another type of Taliban fighter, one who has no idea what NATO is doing in Afghanistan and is only fighting the international security forces because he resents the Western military presence. As Lobjakas writes:
This is the view expressed by Hajji Gul, an elder in the Taliban-infested Dand district in Kandahar Province, in an interview on September 10.
Hajji Gul argues that the Taliban is essentially a flip side of the fiercely independent-minded Pashtun society. He says using force against it spawns resentment, and will lead to new recruits going to the Taliban.
"If you work with us, if you work with the government, if you work with the district and local people, [Taliban fighters] should never come to these districts, they should never destroy security here," he said. But "if you just bombard us, if you just fight the Taliban, the Taliban is going to increase in numbers. You should talk to the Taliban and make them happy."
Hajji Gul also criticizes the civilian fatalities that have sometimes accompanied ISAF operations. He extends his criticism to NATO's aggressive methods, its daily high-speed forays in armored convoys through local neighborhoods, which scare the locals and put their lives at risk. NATO says its cautionary measures are necessary for force protection.Others Lobjakas interviewed corroborated Hul's view:
In Oruzgan Province, which has seen heavy fighting in recent years, Dutch officer Captain Tjip "Chip" Prins told me there is no such thing as a single, uniform "Taliban."...He said more than half of the fighters are locals who believe they are defending their livelihoods, or are following guidance they receive from their mullahs and elders, reacting against corruption among local officials, or seeking redress for other local or personal grievances.
Lobjakas concludes that local elections, if and when they are held, could be a way of addressing the grievances and sense of disconnect from the central government that spurn the insurgency.
Seems to me to be a simple enough solution to try.