On Tuesday, a suicide bomber attacked the entrance of a U.S. military base in Afghanistan that Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting. Cheney was not harmed in the attack, which the Taliban later claimed responsibility for. However, the attack did claim the lives of 23 people. The dead include one U.S. soldier, one American contractor, and South Korean soldier. Cheney said that the attackers were trying to, “to find ways to question the authority of the central government. Striking at Bagram with a suicide bomber, I suppose, is one way to do that.” But it shouldn’t affect our behavior at all.”

A message on a website used by militants said that the vice president was the target of the attack. “A mujahid … carried out a suicide attack in front of the second gate of the Bagram Air Base. … The target was Bush’s vice president, Dick Cheney.” The attackers were not able to get past a U.S. checkpoint, which the vice president was not located near. Cheney was safely inside the base, and about to leave for a meeting with Afghan President Karzai when the attack occurred.

The base operations commander said that security is always tight. “We maintain a high-level of security here at all times. Our security measures were in place and the killer never had access to the base,” said Lt. Col. James E. Bonner. “When he realized he would not be able to get onto the base, he attacked the local population.” It would be almost impossible for an attacker to get inside the military base, plus Cheney’s overnight stay at the base was unscheduled and caused by a weather delay.

I think it is convenient for the Taliban to claim that the attack was aimed at Cheney. The real motivation for the attack was most likely to get publicity. The Taliban is anxious to demonstrate their presence and strength, and what better way for them to do this then to attack the military base the U.S. Vice President was just visiting. The reality is that Iraq gets all the public attention, but Afghanistan has never stopped being dangerous. The Karzai government still only controls the area around Kabul, and the Taliban seems to be embracing many guerilla tactics that they used against the Soviets in the 1980’s.

Afghanistan has become the forgotten front in the war on terror, and in my opinion the Taliban was trying to send the Americans a not so subtle reminder that they are still there. It is clear that America has the capability of waging a two front war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question in my mind is can they win a two front war? I don’t think so. I believe that at best, they can fight to a draw on each front. This might not be the patriotic answer, but it is a rational and realistic one.

 

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