A Turning Point in the Afghan War

The capture of the No. 2 Taliban leader will really make a difference -- in more ways than one.

Several times in the past decade, the U.S. has trumpeted the death or capture of a top insurgent, only to find it didn’t make all that much difference. Remember Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Al Qaeda in Iraq not only survived his demise in June 2006, but it shows every intention of trying to spark a fresh sectarian civil war as U.S. forces prepare to leave.

Or how about Mullah Dadullah, once the Afghan Taliban’s senior military commander? He was killed in a NATO/Afghan raid in May 2007, but the fighting in Afghanistan only grew bloodier, with U.S. casualties there overtaking those in Iraq last year. In the past six months, U.S. drone strikes have killed two successive chiefs of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah and Hakimullah Mehsud. But the organization survives and still threatens NATO traffic on the Khyber Pass, the indispensable ground supply route into Afghanistan.

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