Keeping his campaign promises to focus the fight in Afghanistan, President Obama is going to soon announce how many more soldiers he will dump into the murderous mess there. After 30 years of conflict, fighting and turmoil, it either should be much, much more, or a huge negative sum — meaning withdrawal. Of course, it won’t be the latter as wise as it is because there is too much face to lose and too little pressure for a pullout from the Iraq-obsessed public.
Today, coordinated attacks hit the capital, gun attacks and suicide bombs, Afghanistan’s government is revealed as weaker. British officials are not very positive in their assessment of their fight against the Taliban. Foreign Secretary David Miliband said NATO was in a stalemate. Not everyone agree. Canadian Defence Minster Peter MacKay said that real, but very slow, progress is being made in Afghanistan. It’s a perceptual thing. Where Miliband sees stalemate, MacKay sees very slow, incremental change.
The Afghan people, according to polls, are displeased with Karzai despite his ability to continue to dress fabulously after all these years. They do not welcome the Taliban back, who would. The western imperial powers are not very happy with puppet Karzai because of the government’s failure to govern and rampant corruption. (Side question: Why do puppets always seem to disappoint their masters? Arafat, Noriega, and Saddam come to mind.)
As despicable as the Taliban are, they really seem destined to reign. It has been seven years and they are still going, and appear much stronger than they were. The political stasis and the American answer of pouring more troops seems to be going nowhere. Why not cede the country back to the Taliban, who are Afghans after all, and negotiate terms such as trying and arresting Al-Qaeda, and observing the constitution, not retaliating, etc. The western powers could mitigate suffering by opening their borders to Afghan asylum-seekers. Karzai can move back to Fremont, CA or wherever he was. Sure the Taliban would be nuts at first, but over time could moderate their views as the responsibilities of power hit them, especially if the world engages with them using carrots and not the Bushian sticks-only approach that Obama is furthering.
Let Afghanistan be stable and then develop. Development before stability sure has not worked.
Before you accuse me of ideal naivete, you have to remember that that political conditions of the country are the same as the ones that brought the Taliban into power in the first place. They came to power to unify a highly divided, drug crop-infested, warlord-run country reeling after years of foreign occupation. It is silly for Americans, Britons, and especially Canadians to think they can change the structural circumstances of historic tides. They seem much better off negotiating with them. Unfortunately, those in power would prefer to stay in a quagmire with few political costs for the time being than take the historically sound course of action.
I am as against the Taliban as anyone. But I find the misguided impulses behind remaking Afghnaitan’s political order to be only deadly and guaranteeing more years of instability and fighting — and the more they push the Taliban down, the crazier they will be when they take power.Filed Under afghanistan, obama, war of terror, Will