06/19/2010 03:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

How IEDs Are Wrecking NATO's Afghanistan Strategy

Round-up of the latest AfPak news:

How IEDs are wrecking NATO's Afghanistan strategy. The Guardian's James Denselow notes Washington has spent over $17 billion on gadgets meant to fight IEDs, with little success. The only way they've found for soldiers to protect themselves is to hunker down in massive armored vehicles. But, Denselow asks, how can U.S. troops fight and win a war "among the people" when they're increasingly isolated from "the people?" Is it even possible? With IED attacks increasing at an exponential rate -- from 2,677 incidents in 2007 to 8,159 in 2009 -- this is a question that will need to be answered sooner rather than later. [Guardian]

Pakistan Taliban paid Times Square bomber $12,000, prosecutors allege. A federal indictment released Thursday says Faisal Shahzad received the payment in two installments in February from a member of the Pakistan Taliban. [Christian Science Monitor]

Western mining firms shy away from Afghan ore. Though several Chinese companies are expected to express an interest in Afghanistan's mineral deposits, and JP Morgan has sent a team to Afghanistan to explore investment opportunities there, executives with other major Western firms say they won't consider setting up shop in the country unless the country's security situation improves. One mining company head told the New York Times, "As chief executive, would I send a team to Kandahar? And then call a guy's wife after he gets shot? No." [NYT]

Pentagon officials contradict each other on Afghanistan. Soon after Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress on Tuesday that "as goes Kandahar, so goes Afghanistan," Defense Secretary Robert Gates emphasized that "it's important to remember that Kandahar is not Afghanistan." And while Gates has said the American public has a right to expect clear progress in the country by the end of the year, some military officials reportedly doubt they'll be able to tell whether progress is being made until next summer. [Reuters]

Obama should stick to his timetable. The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson says General David Petraeus's recent attempts to work some "wiggle room" into the president's deadline amounts to an attempt to turn Washington's troop commitment to Afghanistan into a wholly open-ended one: a commitment President Obama has already promised not to make. Robinson argues that if Obama follows Petraeus's lead, he will remove whatever leverage Washington still has over Afghan President Hamid Karzai, further inflame U.S. public opinion and do little to force the Taliban to the negotiating table. [WashPo]