Commentary Magazine


Topic: Securing Kabul The Economist

Securing Kabul

The Economist, seemingly alone among the MSM, gets it about the terrorist attack in Kabul. It writes:

Mr Karzai can feel some pride in the performance of the police, army and various counter-terror units. The insurgents have shown an undimmed ability to launch attacks in the city, but at least local security forces responded quickly and efficiently, no doubt limiting the death toll. A few soldiers from NATO did join in the fray, but the bulk of the response was local because Afghan forces now have direct responsibility for guarding the capital. …

Security officials were helped by intelligence which suggested that a plot was imminent. Guards at the central bank opened fire on a man whom they correctly identified as a suicide bomber, before he could get inside. Later in the day guards at a checkpoint stopped a bomber who was driving an ambulance full of explosives. Kabul police moved quickly to block roads across swathes of the city. Soon after the attacks began the main thoroughfares and shopping districts were boarded up and people headed to safe areas on the edge of town.

Although the latest attack reinforces the fears of residents in Kabul, it at least suggests that militants are finding it harder to strike official targets.

I think that’s right: the outcome of the attacks was not good news for the Haqqani Network and the Taliban — except, of course, for the propaganda points they scored. Still, despite the relatively benign outcome of what could have been a much more horrific attack, there is still a need for Afghanistan to do more to “harden” its capital and other areas against terrorist attacks, in much the same way that Israel, Iraq, and other countries that face a high degree of threat have done. Such precautions are by no means foolproof; Baghdad, in particular, has seen a few terrible al-Qaeda bombings in recent months that are much worse than anything that has occurred in Kabul. If not for all the concrete barriers and checkpoints that have gone up in Baghdad in recent years, such attacks would be much more frequent and even more severe. Kabul hasn’t faced as severe a threat, so not as much has been done to secure it, but that needs to change.

The Economist, seemingly alone among the MSM, gets it about the terrorist attack in Kabul. It writes:

Mr Karzai can feel some pride in the performance of the police, army and various counter-terror units. The insurgents have shown an undimmed ability to launch attacks in the city, but at least local security forces responded quickly and efficiently, no doubt limiting the death toll. A few soldiers from NATO did join in the fray, but the bulk of the response was local because Afghan forces now have direct responsibility for guarding the capital. …

Security officials were helped by intelligence which suggested that a plot was imminent. Guards at the central bank opened fire on a man whom they correctly identified as a suicide bomber, before he could get inside. Later in the day guards at a checkpoint stopped a bomber who was driving an ambulance full of explosives. Kabul police moved quickly to block roads across swathes of the city. Soon after the attacks began the main thoroughfares and shopping districts were boarded up and people headed to safe areas on the edge of town.

Although the latest attack reinforces the fears of residents in Kabul, it at least suggests that militants are finding it harder to strike official targets.

I think that’s right: the outcome of the attacks was not good news for the Haqqani Network and the Taliban — except, of course, for the propaganda points they scored. Still, despite the relatively benign outcome of what could have been a much more horrific attack, there is still a need for Afghanistan to do more to “harden” its capital and other areas against terrorist attacks, in much the same way that Israel, Iraq, and other countries that face a high degree of threat have done. Such precautions are by no means foolproof; Baghdad, in particular, has seen a few terrible al-Qaeda bombings in recent months that are much worse than anything that has occurred in Kabul. If not for all the concrete barriers and checkpoints that have gone up in Baghdad in recent years, such attacks would be much more frequent and even more severe. Kabul hasn’t faced as severe a threat, so not as much has been done to secure it, but that needs to change.

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