Saturday, March 24, 2012

Full circle in Afghanistan

A couple of weeks ago a US soldier went on a rampage in an Afghan village killing many civilians.  This was a tragedy and the reactions of the Afghan authorities was predictable.

What I found more surprising was the Western media reaction to it.  Not too many years in the past they would have acknowledged the tragedy of the event but they would have downplayed the significance of it on the broader implications for the war.  That was not the case this time.  I was surprised at how many media commentators, in the US and in Canada, who are staunch supporters of the war, who stated that this presented President Obama with an excuse to pull US troops out to Afghanistan (with NATO right behind it) and who stated that he should take the opportunity.

I believe that the media have finally acknowledged to themselves that this war is unwinnable.  I would have preferred if they would have come to this conclusion six or seven years ago when that fact first became apparent but I guess better late than never.

It did not have to be this way of course.  It became very obvious to anybody who could look at the situation on the ground with any degree of objectivity that the Taliban was not going to go away after its ouster as the Afghan government. 

The West should have acknowledged that fact and reached out to the more moderate elements of the Taliban to invite them into the new government of the country.  People do not want to lead that country for the good of its people they want to lead it so that they can have a share of the spoils of the rampant corruption of the government.  If the West would have offered a share of those spoils to moderates in the Taliban they would have probably accepted.  That would probably have had the advantage making the last few years alot less bloody for Western forces and it might have had the added advantage of splitting the Taliban, perhaps weakening the hardliners enough to push them to the fringes.

Instead of course, George Bush decided to try to destroy the Taliban, a task that is as impossible as any effort to destroy the Democratic Party.  The result was over a decade of war and the radicalization of the Taliban.  If there are any moderates left in the Taliban they have no power or influence and they will not be able to stop the civil war that will erupt in Afghanistan after the West finally withdraws.  A civil war the Taliban has a very good chance of winning by the way.

We all know that George Bush and his band of neo-cons had a very simplistic view of the world and they bear a great deal of the responsibility of the ongoing tradegy that is that war.  However, the allies that joined Mr. Bush in this ill starred endeavour should have known better.  Although it probably would have fallen on deaf ears they could have attempted to convince the Bush Administration to take a different tack.  Instead they did nothing and in some cases actually enabled the Bush Administration strategy, the actions and rhetoric of the Canadian, British and French governments being particularly noticable in this regard.

So now we have come full circle.  The Taliban won a civil war to rule that country after the departure of the Soviet Union and it is poised to do the same thing again after the departure of Western forces.

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