Help Me Understand the Word Insurgent

Perhaps you can help me understand something that puzzles me a bit.

Every time I consume the news or watch the pundits, the Taliban in Afghanistan are described as insurgents.

I understand the the US, along with an international coalition, invaded Afghanistan to route out the terrorists who planned the 9/11 acts. This was a reasonable action.

Somewhere along the way, the mission changed. Put on the back burner by the US in favour of a still inexplicable invasion of Iraq, retribution changed to a push to build a new country. At first, it was freeing women from oppression. Then it somehow turned into a nation-building exercise.

As this exercise continued, the predictable (see British and Russian history) opposition to their invaders grew. It can hardly be a surprise that the residents of the country would not take well to an invading army trying to build a new culture in their land. It should also not be surprising that the opposition would use guerrilla tactics against a large, trained, technologically advanced invader.

The confusion about the word insurgent stems from remembering when the Taliban were the toast of the world, successfully fighting a war of attrition against Russian invaders. They were called freedom fighters and heroes. The tactics they used formed the basis of those used today.

If the coalition said that they were out to conquer Afghanistan and impose a democracy, I could see the use of the word insurgent. They would be insurgents against the conquering army. But this is not the case. The coalition continues the pretense that they are there on the request of the “democratically elected” government and the insurgents are working against this government.

Perhaps I am just focusing on the word itself. Do you have a better word? One that comes to mind is partisan.

I look forward to your input.