Taliban: Insurgency or Terrorism?

The war in Afghanistan is the most important front on our war against terrorism.   We are facing increasing difficulty dealing with an enemy that is very complex, namely the Taliban and al-Qaeda.   However, even though these two groups are often in cahoots the Taliban is not a terrorist organization in the sense that al-Qaeda is.   The Taliban is a new complex enemy that employs terrorist-like tactics but its strategy is that of an insurgency.   To win this war, America must employ counter-insurgency versus counter-terrorism tactics.

The Taliban, unlike al-Qaeda, was once the government of a state.   Some argue that it was a “failed state” and thus not a legitimate government, but there legitimacy came from the simple fact that they ruled Afghanistan.   The Taliban was in power from 1996 to 2001 when American and NATO forces overran the government in a military invasion.   The Taliban was run out and took a safe haven in Pakistan, but has been increasingly regaining power and standing with the regional Pashtun tribal group.  

During their renewed offensive, which really took hold after 2005, the Taliban had been recruiting local townships.   They also began to employ terrorist tactics that they had never used before.   In the recent past, there have been many more reports of suicide bombings and kidnappings by the Taliban.  

The Taliban has also been heavily funded through the illegal opium drug trade.   Afghanistan is responsible for 90% of the world’s opium production.   It is a $3 billion industry in Afghanistan and is only growing.   One of the problems in combating the Taliban is this flow of steady funding they receive through this trade.   The new
government in Kabul, and the U.S., have made it clear they want to start clamping down
on this illegal industry.   However, this is a livelihood for many Afghan farmers and is very profitable.   The Eradication of the poppy plants has only created more poverty and anger amongst the general population, and...