A former civilian adviser in Iraq and Afghanistan who was the senior adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reluctantly acknowledged that U.S. officials largely didn’t understand that the Taliban is popular among Afghans because of its adherence to Islam.
In a lengthy piece for Politico, Carter Malkasian, the author of “The American War in Afghanistan: A History,” thought Islam’s tie to the Taliban makes the religion look bad, insisting it preaches “unity, justice and peace,”
noted Islam expert Robert Spencer on his Jihad Watch website.
But Malkasian, Spencer wrote, “finds it difficult to escape the conclusion that the Taliban was and is popular among Afghans because of their loyalty to Islam.”
“This should have been an elementary fact that was known and studied by [joint chiefs chairman] and his advisers. It clearly wasn’t. And that’s part of the problem,” Spencer said.
In his July 6 piece for Politico, Malkasian said there’s no “single answer to why we lost the war,” but he highlighted his conversations with Taliban members, often in their native Pashto language.
A religious scholar from Kandahar, for example, told Malkasian in 2019: “The Taliban fight for belief, for janat (heaven) and ghazi (killing infidels)” while the Afghan army and police “fight for money.”
“The Taliban are willing to lose their head to fight,”