From Sara Carter of the Washington Examiner:
"Earlier this year, The Examiner reported that numerous insurgents captured in Pakistan, including some members of al Qaeda, were returned to Afghanistan upon the request of the Karzai government, and then, according to a senior Pakistani official, 'released back to the Taliban as bargaining chips in negotiations.'The Obama administration needs to learn how the Bush administration secured a victory in a difficult war under a weak, divided, corrupt government in Iraq.
"A marine stationed in southern Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province told The Examiner that efforts to detain insurgent fighters are 'worthless.'
"Earlier this year, his unit held a man known to be working with the Taliban. The Marines had gathered evidence that the man was transporting hundreds of pounds of bomb-making equipment and explosives for the Taliban. But, shortly after they captured him, he was set free.
"'Less than two weeks later, we saw the same guy walking through the bazaar,' said the marine, who spoke on condition that he not be named. 'He recognized us. I wanted to shoot him right then and there. We got the guy, and yet there he was, walking around planning to kill again, and we couldn't do a thing about it.'
"For American combat troops in Afghanistan, the release of suspect Taliban is seen as a symptom of the corruption of the Karzai government.
"'Back-room dealings between Karzai officials and local government connected to the Taliban make NATO's work almost impossible,' said a military official stationed in Afghanistan. 'They call the shots, and we've got to release the bad guys.'
"The release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks last week provided a rare glimpse into what the State Department considers official corruption in the Karzai government.
"That was the opinion of Afghan officials interviewed recently. 'Afghanistan is a corrupt mess populated by citizens who are far more comfortable thinking and acting locally and tribally than nationally,' one official said. 'Karzai takes advantage of that for his own benefit,' he added. 'The U.S. turns a blind eye because they don't know how to stop it.'
Robert Gates is still in charge at Defense, and General David Petraeus has been added as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But, ineffective players remain in key diplomatic positions (Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke do not seem up to the level of the very effective Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Iraq). Then there's the difference in President Obama's sometimes waffling commitment in Afghanistan vs. President Bush's dogged determination in Iraq.
For whatever reasons, things do not look good for victorious resolution in Afghanistan before the end of Obama's presidency.