Foreign Policy

Meanwhile in Afghanistan…

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Senior Pakistani officials are urging NATO countries to accept the Taliban and negotiate a series of regional peace agreements similar to those that Pakistan has reached in tribal areas along its border with Afghanistan.

Prior to last week's NATO summit in Latvia, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri told foreign ministers from some NATO member nations that the Taliban was winning the war in Afghanistan and that NATO was bound to fail.

"Kasuri is basically asking NATO to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently.

British Lt. Gen. David Richards, NATO's force commander in Afghanistan, and Dutch Ambassador Daan Everts spent five days in Islamabad before the summit urging the Pakistani military to do more to rein in the Taliban, but left less than fully satisfied.

Lt. Gen. Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai, governor of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, said in an interview with Reuters news agency late last month that U.S. and British military actions in Afghanistan were merely feeding a "snowballing" insurgency….

This year has been the bloodiest in an insurgency that has slowly gained strength since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001.

About 3,800 people have been killed in insurgency-related violence this year, including scores killed in suicide attacks, and in operations by foreign forces across the country, according to the government and U.N. estimates.

More from the London Daily Telegraph via Washington Times, here.

Reason covered "the coming warlord war" in Afghanistan here.

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  1. One thing I’ve been wondering is, where is the anti-Taliban Afghan army? If the rest of the country won’t fight for their freedom(or, more realistically, for their personal power and enrichment), why should we do it for them?

    Subsidize lazy asses sitting around in Kabul, Herat, and Mazar-i-Sharif while someone else beats on their enemies, and what do you get?

  2. Back at the start of the Afghanistan War (late 2001), I was glad the US was sending troops.

    However, I thought that the US troops sent should leave the government of Afghanistan alone, and just focus on finding Usama Bin Laden and destroying any other terrorist infrastructure and/or weapons.

    As with all this Iraq / Afghanistan War stuf, it turns out that I was right and everybody else was wrong.

    Welcome to my world, people.

  3. “One thing I’ve been wondering is, where is the anti-Taliban Afghan army? If the rest of the country won’t fight for their freedom(or, more realistically, for their personal power and enrichment), why should we do it for them?”

    Because they won’t just stay in Afghanistan. If it was an issue of Afghan freedom, I would agree with you. They have had every chance to have a better country and if they want to piss it away too bad. The problem is that if you let the Taliban take over, they just start planning another 9-11. There is no getting away from thise. These assholes are not going to quit or go away. The only sollution is to kill them. They are too smart to fight us in a conventional war with a nice tiddy ending. We are going to be stuck fighting insurgent wars against radical Islamists for the forseable future. I don’t see anyway around it.

  4. John: Ah, fuck, you’re probably right. It just pisses me off–no power has ever won a guerilla war without local allies of substance, and it’s no consolation that giving up would be worse if our other choice is to fight a guerilla war without local allies of substance.

    Having lousy choices sucks.

  5. jb

    There are Afgan government forces – they have been working with Canadian and other NATO forces in several battles. I have no idea how effective they are, but there have been several [rather embarrasing] incidents where their men have been killed by ‘friendly fire’ while working with Canadian troops.

  6. If the Taliban agree to become an ordinary political group in Afghanistan, running for office in local, regional, and national elections and abiding by the results, and end up holding between 20% and 60% of the seats in the national Parliament (depending on the election), in exchange for ending the war, that isn’t “surrender,” that’s “victory for us.”

  7. Sam Franklin,

    “However, I thought that the US troops sent should leave the government of Afghanistan alone, and just focus on finding Usama Bin Laden and destroying any other terrorist infrastructure and/or weapons.”

    Believe me, I’m sympathetic to this argument – I’ve often commented that keeping 30,000 troops garrisoned in Kabul while relying on local yokels to guard the back door at Tora Bora was an early example of the Bushies not understanding the challenge of stateless terrorism, and concentrating too much on governments.

    But you’re going too far in the other direction. The Taliban were fighting for Al Qaeda in Afghanistn, and vice-versa. We needed to fight the Taliban, too, because 1) the were using their forces to resist our attacks on Al Qaeda, and 2) toppling them was the only realistic way to deny bin Laden’s group the patronage of a state, including the use of its territory and other resources that come with sovereignty.

  8. “If the Taliban agree to become an ordinary political group in Afghanistan, running for office in local, regional, and national elections and abiding by the results, and end up holding between 20% and 60% of the seats in the national Parliament (depending on the election), in exchange for ending the war, that isn’t “surrender,” that’s “victory for us.”

    That sounds great Joe, but how is the Taliban going to become “an ordinary political group”? Do you honestly think they could ever be trusted not to sponsor terrorism if they were ever back in power? Further, how a return of the Taliban anything but a massive victory for the global jhihadist cause and a tremendous boost to our enemy’s credibility and ability to recruit world wide? Everyone wants to be on the winning team. I suppose in some wierd niave way, what you are saying makes sense. Unfortuneately, that is a pipe dream.

  9. joe,

    Back in 2001 people thought I was really crazy for saying this kind of thing.

    In late 2001 I promised a beloved aunt that I would vote for GWB in ’04, provided that the US caught or captured the Usama by then. That was how sure I was that the US was not focussing on the Usama (this was back in the “dead or alive” days). In 2004 I checked back in with the aunt to let her know that my promise was still in effect, but it looked like no Usama. She had no recollection. I didn’t have the heart to send her the old emails. Bless her red state soul.

  10. John,

    “That sounds great Joe, but how is the Taliban going to become “an ordinary political group”?”

    By negotiating an agreement that allows them to come in from the cold, in exchange for laying down their arms.

    “Do you honestly think they could ever be trusted not to sponsor terrorism if they were ever back in power?”

    I don’t know. Maybe they’ve learned their lesson about what happens when they use their control of the government to sponsor terrorism, maybe they haven’t. If they haven’t, I imagine many of the voters in the country have, and would learn it even better if we have to take action against their government again.

    “Further, how a return of the Taliban anything but a massive victory for the global jhihadist cause and a tremendous boost to our enemy’s credibility and ability to recruit world wide?” Exactly the thinking behind the cancallation of the Vietnam elections in the 1950s. Remind me, how did that strategy work out again? Do you really think Communism would have been worse off if the Viet Minh had been forced to operate as a politcal party in a Parliamentary democracy?

  11. “Do you really think Communism would have been worse off if the Viet Minh had been forced to operate as a politcal party in a Parliamentary democracy?”

    Joe, the Viet Minh weren’t communists back then, they were nationalists. I will be the first to admit that U.S. screwed up big time by carrying water for the French and turning against the Viet Minh. The Viet Minh never launched an attack against the U.S. Further, the Taliban had wonderful unmolested control over Afghanistan and we got 9-11 for our trouble. Don’t you get it that some people cannot be negotiated with? When they are there to kill you, letting them be a part of the political process isn’t going to help.

  12. How did the Troubles in Northern Ireland get resolved?

  13. Aresen: I don’t know how effective the government forces are, but here’s what I know: They’re not effective enough to beat the (crushed, impoverished)Taliban without our help. However effective they actually are, if they can’t even beat other poorly-armed and equipped Afghans on their own they’re only worth our time because they’re our only option.

  14. John,

    Ho Chi Minh had been a communist for decades. He didn’t suddenly become a communist in 1961. It was our concern that a Viet Minh victory would hand the nation over the Moscow that motivated us the have the elections cancelled.

    And don’t give me this “I’ll be the first to admit…” crap. Sure, you’ll admit it now, but in the mid-1950s, you would have written exactly the same thing about allowing an armed Communist group to run for election than you are saying now about an armed Islamist group.

    The Taliban are not “there to kill us.” They’re there to take power in Afghanistan and support a particular ideology in governing the country. If a settlement in which the Taliban agree not to attack us, and to operate within the law in Afghanistan, isn’t acceptable to you, than what is the end game in Afghanistan? If you haven’t figured it out by now, this isn’t a video game where you kill all the little terrorists, then kill the big terrorist, then get a Free Play.

  15. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about the whole Afghan situation.

    From what I understand, many taliban and al-qaeda leaders and militants are hiding out in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border.

    Musharraf(sp?) would face substantial internal opposition if he went after them with everything he’s got in a full-scale, sustained anti-terrorism campaign. So he’s been taking more careful measures and walking a thin line, so to speak, between cooperating with the US and avoiding outraging his population.

    So my questions are: What should the US and NATO do about this situation and would that solution be easier if troops and military resources weren’t needed in Iraq?

  16. “The Taliban are not “there to kill us.” They’re there to take power in Afghanistan and support a particular ideology in governing the country.”

    Jesus are 3,000 bodies on your doorstep, not enough? Are you really that stupid? IT is amazing the evolution of cowardice. What starts as a Saddam is not that bad, let the Iraqis take over and fend for themselves now has germinated to the Taliban “support a particular ideology in governing the country”. Forgetting for a moment that that ideology involves unimaginable oppression and outright barbarism, that ideology is what gave us 9-11 and promises more in the future.

  17. Is there any enemy you won’t negotiate with and find a way to excuse?

  18. Joe,

    Would you have supported bringing the Nazis into the political fabric of Germany in 1946? If not why not?

  19. John: We did bring the Nazis* into the political fabric of Germany. Not in 1946, more like in the early ’50s, but 2006 is more like an analogue of the early ’50s anyhow. 2002-3 was 1946.

    *They weren’t the Nazis as such, but many of the Nuremberg convicts were released, Krupp was given back his empire, and a lot of the lower-level baddies were put back in charge of things. This was done for a similar reason to why we’d do it now–we had bigger problems and couldn’t let Germany be a drag on our resources.

    Not to say it’s a perfect analogy, or a good idea, but it’s not prima facie ridiculous.

  20. Afghanistan has become like Kosovo, forgotten.

  21. Koso-who?

  22. The only coward here is you, John. Bedwetters like you, warning about the bodies and my doorstep and the mushroom clouds over my city, have been responsible for dramatically worsening the global terrorist problem over the past five years, while dramatically reducing our capacity to deal with it. I don’t care if you’re having another fit of hysteria, your bullying is a laughable relic of a past age.

    Wake me up when you’re capable of a cogent argument. Your terrified bleating and incapacity to think grew boring years ago.

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