Afghanistan’s Day of Violence: More Than 40 Killed in Deadly Car Bombing

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If a clear sign was needed that things in Afghanistan are not going according to plan, today’s car bomb in Paktika is about as clear as it’s going to get. Killing at least 89 people and injuring dozens more, the suicide bomb exploded as a vehicle loaded with explosives passed by a busy market on Tuesday morning.

Mohamma Raza Kharoti, the district governor, told Reuters news agency that “the number of wounded will rise to more than 100 and the number of those martyred will also increase.”

Though it is one of the most casualty-ridden acts of civilian violence in recent memory, it wasn’t the only bomb that went off in Afghanistan on Tuesday. In Kabul, a remote-controlled roadside bomb killed two people and wounded five others, drawing condemnation from President Hamid Karzai. The victims of the Kabul bombing were members of Karzai’s media office. But while the Taliban readily took credit for the Kabul roadside bomb, they deny having any part of the one in Paktika, claiming that violence against civilians is outside of their M.O.

“The truth behind this attack will become clear after an investigation, but we clearly announce that it was not done by the Mujahedeen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban. “The Mujahedeen do not conduct such attacks…”

These attacks, of course, take place at a time when the United States is gradually withdrawing troops in a segmented process, leaving many to wonder what will happen in the country once the Afghan people no longer have the support of the world’s mightiest military. Already, those looking at the ISIS attacks in Iraq are predicting similar instability for Afghanistan. And so the question must be laid at the feet of the administration: where are we going with this?

Obviously, the ideal outcome in the Bush years was to somehow transform Iraq and Afghanistan into Middle Eastern beacons of freedom, creating solid allies in the region that would be every bit the friend to the U.S. that Israel has been. It seems abundantly clear at this point that dreamland version of peace is never going to happen. There is a deep and bitter resentment among many in the region for U.S. involvement, and it is enough to create a fervent and dedicated new generation of terrorists who want nothing more than to see American burn while remaking the countries in the most extreme, Islamocentric fashion possible.

But if creating democracies isn’t going to work, then what is the endgame? Obama has promised to withdraw all but 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, but if today’s violence is any indication, we aren’t going to leave behind a stable government. Obama’s troop surge a few years ago seemed to promise a turning point in the war, but as more time passes it seems clear that there is no turning point in these wars. We’ve simply traded one corrupt, oppressive government for another. When the “freedom fighters” get done with it, it’s hard to say what will be left.