The joy with which residents of Kabul have greeted a championship boxing match in their city–won by Hamid Rahimi, a German of Afghan extraction–is further evidence that there is little desire in Afghanistan for a return to Taliban rule. The Taliban, after all, were the crackpots who banned boxing, music, kite flying, and other forms of entertainment. They did allow soccer matches, but would come out at halftime to execute or amputate their victims–a poor alternative to marching bands and cheerleaders.
Amid all of Afghanistan’s problems, its people are embracing professional soccer, boxing, and other amusements that would be unthinkable under Taliban control. Admittedly, Kabul is hardly representative of the entire country–it has always been the most Westernized of Afghan cities. But cities like Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif and Jalalabad and even Kandahar are no more friendly to the resumption of Taliban control. The Taliban do have some support in the Pashtun countryside, but even there the Taliban’s draconian edicts–such as forbidding schooling for girls–go too far even for most conservative farmers.
The Taliban have no chance of winning a popular election. They can only shoot their way into power–and only if the West abandons the government of Afghanistan and its security forces after 2014.
A new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan makes clear that the Afghan forces still have considerable deficiencies in logistics and other areas. Those gaps are currently being filled by the U.S. and its allies–and they will need to continue filling them after 2014, or else the barbarous Taliban will return to power, and they will not only terrorize the people of Afghanistan, they will make Afghanistan once again a haven for their pals in al-Qaeda and other transnational terrorist groups.