The departure of the final U.S. combat units from Iraq doesn't end the fighting and dying there, but it's another sign that combat has shifted eastward, to Afghanistan. There, increasing numbers of U.S. troops are taking on an increasingly deadly Taliban foe.
Deadly and cruel. Witness, as the world did via press accounts recently, the Taliban's stoning to death of a young Afghan couple.
All forms of capital punishment are harsh, but surely stoning — the infliction of death by casting rocks at a helpless person — is utterly barbaric. That it should be imposed as a punishment for affairs of the heart — the Afghan man and woman, in their 20s, were accused of adultery — is doubly appalling. And not just by Western standards: President Hamid Karzai branded the Taliban's action "an unforgivable crime."
A crime, to be sure, and one among many committed by the particular band of Islamic extremists who came to rule Afghanistan after the Soviet Union withdrew. They were then were ousted by Afghan and U.S. forces shortly after the 9/11 attacks, which had their genesis in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. In recent years the Taliban, operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan, has been resurgent and merciless. An especially bloody example was the massacre, earlier this month, of 10 medical-care workers, six of them Americans and all dedicated to their humanitarian mission.
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