Thursday, 22 October 2009

Afghanistan - Should I Stay Or Should I Go

War is just too important to be left to politicians and generals. And yet here we are again, facing escalation of an eight-year battle in Afghanistan while still mired in a six-year Iraqi morass.
Why do we so casually abrogate our rights to those who fly in the face of the Founding Fathers, most of whom would have been horrified by our attempts at nation building on the far side of the world. It seems odd, particularly when the American people – apart from settling matters with Osama Bin Laden – have rarely been partial to foreign military escapades.
Still the old demons have legs and are regularly trotted out – the Domino Theory for Vietnam, supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, the sheltering of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Then when the dust clears, we find that the Viet Cong were capitalists in waiting who just wanted to run their own turf; Saddam Hussein was far too busy writing romance novels to be devoting time to WMDs. While if we’re so fearful of Qaeda setting up shop again in Kabul then why aren’t we invading Somalia and Yemen where they strut the streets like two-bit coke dealers.
Probably because we’re easily conned, as befits a populace that’s over-entertained and under-informed. But who wants to know what’s actually going on in the world when we can watch Tom Delay dancing, marvel at various Democrats shimmying in the pockets of the Health Insurance industry, or when we can just fuggedaboutit all in the cozy familiarity of Facebook?
The one man who could have stopped the Iraq War, Secretary of State, Colin Powell, put it best, “you break it, you own it.” That’s why we’ll be spending billions on Crazy Glue in Baghdad at least until the Mets win the World Series.
That’s where we’re heading in Afghanistan too, binding together a state that ranked 4th in the world’s most corrupt180. President Karzai’s government is so on-the-make that elements of his own ethnic group, the Pashtuns, were seriously considering voting for his opponent Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, whose mother was a member of the hated Tajiks. We’ll never know if they did since Karzai’s opium-running brother stuffed so many ballots some of the boxes burst open.
It is conservatively estimated that only 20% of foreign aid – including thirteen billion over the last 8 years from the US - actually gets past the hands of warlords, bureaucrats, and the ruling elite. This is the foundation upon which we hope to construct some facsimile of a Jeffersonian democracy.
Is there a political solution? It’s doubtful. Should Abdullah Abdullah win in a proposed run-off, it would probably lead to civil war as the Pashtun majority is unlikely to tolerate even a half-Tajik as president.
It’s no secret that the only person capable of uniting the country, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was unfortunately assassinated the day before 9/11 by either Taliban CEO, one-eyed Mullah Omar, Osama Bin Laden himself, or the Pakistani Secret Service (ISI), take your pick.
Still history, as ever, provides some guidance. Afghanis of all ethnic backgrounds and levels of Muslim fundamentalism abhor foreign dominance and unite at the drop of a hat to battle invading infidels be they Brit, Soviet or American. However, as soon as the enemy departs they revert to their old divisive ways.
The Taliban, as we somewhat erroneously label the current coalition of fundamentalists, drug dealers, nationalists, and cut-out-of-the-action hustlers battling Karzai and NATO forces, boasts among its leaders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, ruthless heroin dealer and our old Mujahadeen ally in the war against the Soviets. This rather savage gentleman has long been associated with the ISI, despite the fact that we’ve blithely tossed Pakistan 11 billion dollars since 9/11. I kid you not.
Where will it all end? Well, more than likely, when the Karzai government implodes from greed and lack of popular support, and we get tired of pouring lives and money into a sinkhole. Then Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, after a consultation with his ISI handlers, will no doubt text Mullah Omar.
“Yoh One Eye, what up babe? Listen, later for the crazy Bin Laden dude, yah hear me. Yankee bombs bad for dope business! C U in Kabul. Peace Gul.”
Maybe it’s time we switched off Dancing With The Stars and got our noses out of Facebook; a lot of young American lives are on the line – not to mention trillions more in deficits. This looming disaster is too important to be left to politicians and generals.

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