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Tuesday, June 28, 2005


the forgotten war

via paul craig roberts, british news media are reporting that president bush has told prime minister tony blair that the united kingdom must rush many more troops into afghanistan.

Tony Blair was warned that war-torn Iraq remains on the brink of disaster - more than two years after the removal of Saddam Hussein - during his summit with President Bush in Washington earlier this month.

Scotland on Sunday revealed last month that Blair is preparing to rush thousands more British troops to Afghanistan in a bid to stop the country sliding towards civil war, amid warnings the coalition faces a "complete strategic failure" in the effort to rebuild the nation.

The grim prognosis was underlined last night by Afghanistan's defence minister, who warned that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was regrouping and planned to bring Iraq-style bloodshed to the country.

... despite fears that the security situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating, the Americans have now launched a determined rearguard action to ensure Iraq does not suffer from a switch in Britain's military focus.

"The Prime Minister was given a pretty depressing run-down of the prognosis for Iraq while he was in Washington," one senior Ministry of Defence source said last night. "The Americans are pushing for at least a maintenance of the troop numbers we have there now. Our latest intention is to reduce by at least half the number of our troops in Iraq within a year.

"It's difficult to see how we can square that circle."

The appeal to Blair confirms Washington's growing unease about the security of Iraq. Bush is coming under increasing pressure at home to present an "exit strategy" for American troop from Iraq.
mention is made also that the united states is still at the table with the iraqi insurgency -- which is, of course, our only real hope for realizing anything like a face-saving, victory-declaring retreat, not to mention basic iraqi stability, as opposed to being forced into an eventual out-and-out capitulation in iraq.

but at least as interesting is the apparently vastly deteriorated state of affairs in afghanistan. it is not news that the afghani project is a disaster of sorts. but it is encouraging to hear that the administration, whatever lies it foists upon a blind electorate, realizes that they are backed against a wall and facing a total loss. i doubt it's enough to get them to apprehend the obvious truth about the global democratic revolution. but perhaps their increased attention level will be enough to get them to either destroy rumsfeld and reject his flawed strategies or simply patch it up as best we can and retreat -- leaving afghanistan to the taliban and pakistan, but at least not throwing thousands of american soldiers into a merciless, pointless, voracious meat grinder as we are in iraq, breaking the effectiveness of the volunteer armed forces in the process.

indeed, it seems that the latter may be our current situation in spite of our presence, and a source of indian fear.

According to New Delhi, the situation has become worse along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border than it was during Taliban rule. This area is under the control of anti-American and anti-Indian militia which are protected by the Pakistani army. US troops have no capability to break this stranglehold: Washington is dependent on Islamabad to produce an "extremist" as and when they choose.

According to one Indian official, Pakistan will certainly revive its old intelligence and jihadi networks in the region, rolling back the political gains the Indians made since the Taliban were ousted from the areas in and around Kandahar and Jalalabad, among other places, following the US attack in late 2001.
as for democracy, the internal afghani puppet government headed by the american-backed karzai has become an powerless, useless shell which most people don't bother to risk supporting.

At the time of the Jalalabad riots, described by observers as the biggest anti-US protests since the fall of the Taliban, Karzai was in Brussels for talks at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters about proposals to expand the alliance's role in Afghanistan. He was not in a position to blame Pakistan or the US for the riots. Instead, he took the path of least resistance, proclaiming that the demonstrations were not anti-American. The riots showed only the inability of Afghan security institutions to cope, he said, adding that such freedom of expression was a proof that democracy was taking root.

But Karzai is not fooling anyone, even himself. His days of worry have just begun. His best ally, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, has been shifted to Iraq and the new ambassador, Ronald Neumann, is a well-known friend of Israel. His presence in Kabul will only help the orthodox Islamists, controlled by Islamabad, to go after Karzai in a big way. It should not surprise anyone if Osama bin Laden makes his overdue appearance once more to attack the "Zionist" US envoy.

... After the demonstrations, Karzai, often viewed by his opponents as an American puppet, attempted to assert his autonomy by saying his government should have the final say on US military operations. He also called for the quick repatriation of Afghan prisoners now in US custody. But he lost on both counts. President Bush made clear that US military operations would remain entirely in the hands of US commanders, and the Afghans would have nothing to do with them. It would be difficult for Karzai now to keep a straight face and tell anyone he heads a sovereign nation-state.
jim lobe articulates how our ongoing idealistic war against opium, as part of a broader campaign to westernize afghanistan, is all but guaranteeing our failure by popularizing cultural defenders like the taliban.

In consequence of these blunders, assailing rural Afghanistan’s economy and its culture, de Borchgrave reports that "Britain’s defense chiefs have advised Tony Blair 'a strategic failure' of the Afghan operation now threatens." That term is precisely accurate. Our failure is strategic, not tactical, and it can only be remedied by a change in strategic objective. Instead of trying to remake Afghanistan, we need to redefine our strategic objective to accept that country as it is, always has been and always will be: a poor, primitive, and faction-ridden place, dependent on poppy cultivation and proud of its strict Islamic traditions.
this is a recurrent problem for the american empire of idealism: our continued inability to recognize our freedom and modernity as a potential weakness -- instead consistently confusing it for an universal virtue.

in short, then, we have insufficient troops to keep even basic order, and have given over large sections of the territory to pakistani/pushtun warlords; publicly neutered the puppet "democracy" of our own making in afghanistan; and given the population even greater reason, in a cultural onslaught, than they might have had purely from tribal affiliation to reject our intervention and support a taliban resistance. and we then treat the symptoms of unrest rather than the causes by launching sporadic military assaults and demanding more british troops.

in light of such facts, it's hard to find reason to think afghanistan won't slide into deeper chaos.

I suspect that if you and I were to physically meet, our collective cynicism would trigger a self-sustaining chain reaction that would destroy several square kilometres of optimism.

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perhaps it would be all for the better, mr twba. :)

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