Thursday, February 08, 2007

Getting whupped in Afghanistan

Pashtun tribal Zone, Afghanistan, 2004

NATO -- a transatlantic alliance -- is gambling its future in Afghanistan. The prestigious London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies' latest report minced no words: success or failure in a country where everyone from Alexander the Great to the British empire to the Soviet empire met defeat will determine whether NATO lives -- or withers. - Arnaud De Borchgrave - UPI

David Seaton's News Links
Looking into the eyes of this darling, little Pashtun, valley girl, I am reminded of an old traditional melody from the American southland, which goes, "I gotta knife, I gotta gun, cut yez if yuh stand, shoot yez if yuh run."

I certainly would not like to get on the wrong side of this little hellion and much, much less, get on the wrong side of her daddy. Betting the future of NATO on whupping this little girl's daddy and her cousins doesn't seem to me such an intelligent proposition.

Certainly to think that with a hodge-podge of NATO's odds and sods you are going to succeed where Alexander the Great and Queen Victoria failed is the height of hubris, which I think is the classical Greek word for "dumb asshole".

Sensible old, William Pfaff, the anti-Thomas Friedman, explains why NATO is going to lose the war in Afghanistan. I love this quote, "
You might think the American political class and public is convinced that war is the road to national success, whereas the American experience of war, from the Korean ceasefire to the present day, proves the opposite. " Isn't it wonderful? DS

Afghanistan: Reenactment of Iraq and Vietnam - William Pfaff

Abstract: The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan – “students of religion” – are a nationalist and populist movement of puritanical Islamic fundamentalism which grew up among the Pashtun tribal people of Northern Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan in the early 1960s’s. The Pashtun tribal group is some 40-million strong, and has successfully resisted foreign domination since the time of Alexander the Great.(...) The Taliban eventually ruled Afghanistan between 1996 to 2001, eventually ousted by American bombing when they defied an American ultimatum to hand over Osama bin Laden, leader of al Qaeda, following the 9/11 attacks. Now 35 thousand NATO troops with a UN mandate are fighting to prevent them from returning to the Pashtun regions of Afghanistan.(...) General Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, is uneasily looking on; he is an intelligent man who knows that there will be 40 million Pashtuns in his part of the world long after NATO and the Americans have left.(...) The Afghanistan intervention now is moving steadily towards failure for the same reasons that produced American failure, humiliation and national discredit in Vietnam and Iraq. Washington in this case is being unwisely supported by NATO and endorsed by the European Union. The three cases are alike in the following respect. The intervention has been launched against a phenomenon of local political and social origin, misidentified out of ideological bias and political ignorance as a threat to the United States and the West. In Afghanistan-Pakistan the Taliban is a nationalist and religious movement of indigenous origin and strictly local horizons, ambitions, and reach. Afghanistan under Taliban rule would to a westerner seem a very unpleasant place to live, as it was before. However that would seem a problem for the Afghans themselves to settle. In Vietnam the target was the national Communist movement, fundamentally an upheaval against foreign domination, originally French and subsequently American. In Iraq the local phenomenon was an Arab nationalist dictatorship controlling immense oil reserves, originally supported by the United States (through the period of the 1980-1990 Iraq-Iran war). It was subsequently identified by the senior George Bush administration as a threat to American and Israeli interests in the region, the former mainly commercial and the latter security interests. In all three cases the United States’ objective was not simple military victory but to change the political nature of the society so as to make it a liberal democracy. A cynical observer would say that Washington wanted to turn each into a client state, but this was not entirely true. The United States wanted, as it always wants, a conversion of hearts. It nonetheless has become a profoundly militaristic nation, which it never was before 1941. It now conceives of international relations primarily in terms of military coercion and war. The Bush administration budget that has just gone to Congress would devote a higher percentage of national expenditure to war and war preparations than in any year since the Korean war 55 years ago: higher than during the Vietnam war, or the cold war. You might think the American political class and public is convinced that war is the road to national success, whereas the American experience of war, from the Korean ceasefire to the present day, proves the opposite. Vietnam was a decade of disaster, leaving the U.S. divided and weakened. U.S. Caribbean and Central American interventions (the Dominican Republic, the Bay of Pigs, Panama, Grenada, Nicaragua) made the country look overwrought and ridiculous. The Iraq intervention now is collapsing into horror. Is it necessary to repeat this in Afghanistan? READ IT ALL

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just to add a comment on Afghanistan. Ghengis Khan himself -- after destroying the city of Balkh, an empty dust blown desert monument to the holocaust wrought by the Mongol armies -- merely passed on through Afghanistan, rather than remain and get bogged down there in the mountains where each valley is its own Thermopolae.
Indeed, the idea that Pakistan is entriely at fault for NATO's problems is not true, Baloch and Pushtoon people have been fighting non-stop since the 1970's, in that time the West destroyed the USSR, the EU and Euro came into existence, Thatcherism came and went, fought Saddam, then saved Kosovar muslims, then Americans were tramatized and Saddam was fought again, and this is just a bare summary.
But for Afghanistan, its just been war, one long war.