Monday, December 11, 2006

Afghanistan: an ideology collapses

David Seaton's News Links
Today Paul Krugman, in a column about outsourcing says the following, "In Afghanistan, the job of training a new police force was outsourced to DynCorp International ... under very loose supervision: ... auditors couldn’t even find a copy of DynCorp’s contract... And $1.1 billion later, Afghanistan still doesn’t have an effective police training program." When "Real Existing Socialism" collapsed, it was assumed that this was somehow a vindication of capitalism.... Perhaps it was only a vindication of "collapse". All of the ideology that dresses up American power is being stripped away in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps this is even more evident in Afghanistan, where the motives for the war are clearer and less prone to conspiracy theories than Iraq. Certainly we are seeing a crisis of the prevalent neo-liberal and neo-conservative, "end of history" thinking of the 1990s. The famous Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times", could well be applied to our era. DS
Taliban and Allies Tighten Grip in North of Pakistan - New York Times
Abstract: Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state. The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year. The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials. This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused “American spies” have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping “Talibanization.” Last year, at least 100 others were also killed.(...) The fundamentalists’ influence is seeping outward, with propaganda being spread on private radio stations, and through a widening network of religious schools and the distribution of CDs and DVDs. It can now be felt in neighboring tribal departments and the settled areas of the North-West Frontier Province. In recent months, Pakistani newspapers have reported incidents of music and barber shops being closed, television sets burned and girls’ schools threatened. The militants are more powerful than the military and the local tribal police, kill with impunity and shield criminals and fugitives. (...) the Taliban commanders and the Pakistani militants under them remain unswervingly loyal to jihad in Afghanistan and, despite the tensions, still enjoy local support for the cause, officials and local journalists say. The failed government military campaigns of recent years, which are seen as dictated by the United States, have further radicalized the local population, many in the region say. As a potential indicator of local support, the families of two suicide bombers sent to Afghanistan from Waziristan gained renown in the community, according to a local journalist.(...) Morale is high among the resurgent Taliban after their revival in Afghanistan this year, one Pakistani security official said. That will lead to still more recruitment and better organization and planning in the year ahead. READ IT ALL

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