After weeks of campaign in the media that Nato-led forces are ‘coming to get you’, US military officials have finally announced that a ‘major offensive’ against the Taliban has begun around Marjah town in Helmand province.
Some 15000 troops are said to be involved in the operation, including American, British and Afghan soldiers. It is being described as the biggest offensive since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. Writing in openDemocracy.net, Prof Paul Rogers examines some of the possible reasons behind the Western media campaign. There has been very little scrutiny or questioning by mainstream journalists about claims being made about the offensive. The tendency has been to simply accept what the foreign forces tell the media, who uncritically turn them into hard news.
The most important questions that comes to my mind are: Do Nato commanders really think Taliban will dig themselves in the battleground and fight after hearing for weeks that international forces are coming to get them? Or will they melt away in the vast countryside as rebels have done throughout the 30-year conflict in Afghanistan and live to fight another day elsewhere on their own terms?
My take is that the Nato-led ‘major offensive’ has more to do with propaganda creating the impression of a ‘great military victory’ and less about defeating the Taliban. We should continue to monitor news about contacts via mediators between the two sides.