I’m not convinced by the suggestion that there is a causal link, but Immanuel Wallerstein’s piece in Monthly Review is worth considering.
[L]ook at what has happened elsewhere in the Middle East because of the surge. In November of 2006, the United States and NATO had been congratulating themselves on the success of their efforts in Afghanistan. But since then, two things have happened. The number of U.S. casualties has soared, passing now those in Iraq. So has violence against Afghans. Suddenly the Taliban are back in a big way. And now, for the first time since 2001, the pundits are talking about the possibility of the U.S. losing the war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq.
And look at Pakistan. Since November 2006, the country has had relatively democratic elections, which brought to power a legislature hostile to President Musharraf, still the person on whom the Bush regime is relying to pursue a policy favorable to U.S. interests. Musharraf, as a consequence, has been struggling to keep his head above water. One of the ways in which he has done this is to make a tacit deal with the Islamist forces in the northwest frontier region that favor and harbor both al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Recently, these forces almost occupied the largest urban center in the region. They are in any case very strong, and are actively helping the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Then look at Iran. Iran is huffing and puffing. So is Israel about Iran. So is Dick Cheney. The fact is, however, that Iran is stronger than ever. And they have been strengthening in every way their links with the two groups in Iraq upon which U.S. hopes are based — the al-Maliki government and the Kurds. Iran actually shares many interests with the United States in Afghanistan. But the United States is unable to take advantage of this geopolitical alliance because it in