In 1794, the young government of the United States of America faced a popular uprising over a tax on distilled spirits in the western frontiers of that country. President George Washington sent 12,950 militiamen to western Pennsylvania to supress the rebellion, cementing the authority of the new government once and for all. Had Washington been unable to quell the rebellion, the federal government could have lost legitimacy or even fallen.
Over 200 years later, the young government of President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan faces a similar test. The remains of the Taliban still exist in the country and have been fighting with US troops since their fall 18 months ago. However, Karzai now has a victory under his belt as Afghan troops singlehandedly killed 40 rebels – the biggest victory against the Taliban since their ouster.
This sends a very strong signal – the new Afghan government can fight, and will fight. This is exactly the message that needs to be sent for Karzai’s government to begin to cement its power over the country. If the militants know that the Afghan government can defeat them and will engage them any way they can, it will lead to a major reduction in actions against the government. WIth luck, Karzai will be able to start reuniting the country under one government with the authority to procede with rebuilding the country.