Last February, I grudgingly allowed that General McChrystal should get his chance at pacifying Marja. Well, he's had his chance. Before we escalate even further and move on to Kandahar, maybe it would be a good idea to see how Marja turned out.
The Taliban actually left for a while, but now they're back. The Afghan national police push the locals around during the day, and the Taliban do it by night. Oh, and remember that "government in a box" that was all ready to move in as soon as Marja was reclaimed? It seems the box must have leaked, because a good many of the officials never made it to Marja — they're still back in Kabul, although they are collecting their government salaries for doing such good work down south.
So the schedule for Kandahar has been pushed back a bit. I suppose there's no need for a "government in a box" there, because Ahmed Wali Karzai will continue to run the place just as he always has.
Making things even more interesting, U.S. geologists estimate close to a trillion dollars in mineral wealth is just waiting to be dug up in Afghanistan. Just think of all the splendid corruption that will bring. Hell, we couldn't even keep rampant corruption out of our own Minerals Management Service — and I really don't see a pack of Karzai cousins taking too much trouble to preserve the environment when the mining begins.
Well, at least they don't have an ocean to pollute.