But Joe Klein makes an even more fundamental error. He writes:
It will resist any suggestion to leave Helmand and redeploy to Kandahar. "ThatKlein is wrong. Counter-insurgency demands gaining the local population’s trust. For the local population to work with, let alone trust, NATO forces, it must believe that NATO will stick around – it cannot believe that NATO forces will be transitory, moving into an area, taking advantage of local support, and then leave, abandoning the local population to returning Taliban fighters and exposing it to reprisals. For most of NATO’s 8 year history in Afghanistan, it was undermanned to provide the sort of guarantee of long-term presence and involvement to warrant local support and trust. Only now is NATO beginning to reach areas of the country long controlled by the Taliban – to leave those areas, as Klein suggests, would be to destroy any goodwill earned and reinforce the local population’s belief that NATO is transitory and cooperation is a death sentence. In this way, death threats in Helmand and death threats in Kandahar are not equivalent. NATO should not abandon Helmand. Kandahar should come next, but not at the expense of Helmand and NATO’s ultimate goals.
would be a death sentence for all the people in Helmand who have supported us,"
a military expert told me. It is a compelling argument but, ultimately, a flawed
one; death sentences are being delivered every night in Kandahar.