Taliban blames Holbrooke death on war 'failures'
For the Taliban, the death of U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke late Monday was really a metaphor for U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
The insurgent group posted a statement on its English-language Web site Tuesday that linked the longtime diplomat's demise to what it called a failing war.
"This giant of the American politics and diplomacy became ill with heart disease when his previous fame and credibility came under question after the unremitting failures of the mission of Afghanistan," the statement said. "The protracted Afghan war and the descending trajectory of the Americans' handing of the warfare in the country had a lethal dent on Holbrooke's health."
The Taliban statement drew a parallel between Holbrooke's torn aorta and the failing health of Soviet leaders in the period that preceded the country's retreat from Afghanistan in the late 1980s. "They relieved themselves of the hard task of the Afghan mission by retreating into the lap of death," the statement said.
The group tried to bolster its argument by making mention of the congressional hearing on Afghanistan in June during which a dehydrated Gen. David H. Petraeus briefly fainted and the abrupt departure days later of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus's predecessor as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. It also made a reference to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' reported decision to step down from his post next year.
"The war in Afghanistan is heavily weighing down on the psyche of the American military and political higher-ups," the Taliban said. "Some of them lighten their burden by simply going to the other world and others, while still being alive, chose to avoid shouldering the mission."
| December 14, 2010; 10:05 AM ET
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