Friday, September 01, 2006

Rubber Meet Road

Whenever someone questions the wisdom of our mission in Afghanistan, it is invariably met with the moral necessity argument, references to terror and the idea of abandonment. The way people have twisted, and frankly lied, about Kennedy's position serves as proof that the believers refuse to acknowledge a simple fact- we aren't winning, by whatever measure you choose, and the notion of quagmire is real. Do you blindly follow a failed path, or show some pragmatism and argue for something different?

A quick scan reveals the danger of stubborn refusal to re-access and ignore the trends:
KABUL, Afghanistan - The Pakistani military is striking truces with Islamic separatists along the country's border with Afghanistan, freeing Pakistani militants and al-Qaida fighters to join Taliban insurgents battling U.S.-led troops and government forces in Afghanistan.

Western and Afghan officials said the new infiltration came as the United States, its NATO allies and the Afghan government were struggling to stem a resurgence of the Taliban across large swaths of southern and eastern Afghanistan.

A lack of balance, from a source who should know:
Kabul- Five years since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the beginning of the war on terrorism, Afghanistan has accused the international community of failure in that fight. The international community has "concentrated too much on the military components in the fights against terrorism," its foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, said in an interview in Kabul with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "The fight against terrorism is not only a military, but also a development and social, mission."

"The problem is, is that the non-governmental organizations and the reconstruction teams have completely pulled out of the south and east," Spanta said.

Pockets of resistence or spreading threat?:
Militant supporters of the Islamist militia have stepped up attacks, rendering much of the south and east of the country a no-go zone for civilians. Insecurity has also spread to new provinces, such as Ghazni, where Taliban-led fighters are more active than in the past.

On Friday, suspected Taliban ambushed the chief of the central province's Muqur district, Habibullah Jan, as he traveled by car to the provincial capital, said Abdul Ali Faqari, the Ghazni governor's spokesman. Four of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.

In the east, a homemade bomb believed planted by Islamic extremists badly damaged a newly built coed school in Paktika province on Friday, a U.S.-led coalition statement said. At the time, no one was inside the school, which was due to open next week

Some nations are now re-thinking:
In Germany, the idea of sending troops to the south is controversial and the issue could become a serious one when the German parliament discusses extending the Bundestag's mandate in Afghanistan in mid-September. The Bundestag must approve all German troop deployments abroad and the mandate for the current 2,700 German soldiers stationed in Afghanistan expires in October.

The war on drugs:
WASHINGTON - The illicit Afghan narcotics trade is taking a sharp turn for the worse despite major efforts by U.S. and Afghan forces over the past year, continuing to fuel an insurgency that is increasingly killing American soldiers and destabilizing the country.

In light of dramatic figures expected to be announced in Saturday by the United Nations, U.S. officials plan a shift in policy including getting tougher with regional Afghan officials who fail to meet new goals for destroying poppy fields in their areas...

"We know the numbers are bad, and that we need to do better," said Tom Schweich, the State Department's point man on the Afghan narcotics trade. "I don't know the exact number but it'll be high, very high."

At the same time, Schweich contends it is too soon to call the U.S. effort a failure.

Conclusion, for myself anyways, anybody who isn't at the very least questioning this mission has her/his head up their ass :) And remember, wanting to change gears doesn't equate to abandoning Afghanistan forever.


Godammitkitty said...

Good points all, Steve. Thanks for the important links from the Afghan minister (I hadn't seen that). Best wishes, GDK/H&O

Steve V said...

Hey Rebecca, thanks for dropping in :)

Scotian said...

You know, a while back I made the observation that it would be far better to buy the poppy crop from these farmers than it would be to destroy them. After all the poppies can be used to make morphine, and by doing so we bring the farmers onto our side instead of driving them into the hands of insurgents and Taliban. People tend to forget that one of the main reasons the poppy crops keep appearing in Afghanistan is that the soil is lousy for food crops and this crop is by far and away the most profitable.

Time and time again we are seeing mistakes being made at basic levels regarding getting the locals on our side, be those mistakes from incompetence, over-optimism, or ideology. We see the Afghan government resurrecting things like the Ministry of Morals and virtues which had a very unsavoury history regarding the treatment of women during the Taliban days. We keep being told that the freedom of women is one of the good things we have brought to Afghanistan yet in the actual media reporting from there we find that this freedom has been repeatedly restricted in the country by the government we in the west are supporting. So remind me again what exactly we are doing there these days that is going to have any hope of reconstructing Afghanistan as a stable society let alone a free one?!?

I weep for this result, especially since it was all but inevitable once America went from being focused on Afghanistan to starting to eye Iraq. They cut back massively on resources for the reconstruction of Afghanistan after pledging months earlier to do no such thing. It was always clear that it would take significant international reconstruction efforts and funding including a major commitment from America to make this have a chance at really working, which was one of the reasons so many of us were aghast at the decision to leave this job half done to fight a war with Iraq that was clearly unnecessary and exactly what Osama bin Laden had hoped to cause with his attacks on America.

This is what our CPC government tells us we have to be so supportive of without question, and while I supported this mission from the outset I have to say the last year or so has left me in a position forcing reconsideration. Especially after that nonsense Harper pulled in the HoC with the show debate/vote on the extension last Session.

Steve V said...

"This is what our CPC government tells us we have to be so supportive of without question, and while I supported this mission from the outset I have to say the last year or so has left me in a position forcing reconsideration. Especially after that nonsense Harper pulled in the HoC with the show debate/vote on the extension last Session."

I supported the mission too, but there is no question conditions have changed and our leadership operates with the same blind logic as the Americans. Conservatives don't seem to under the nuance of pragmatism.

Scotian said...

Steve V said:

" Conservatives don't seem to under the nuance of pragmatism.

2:25 PM"

My guess is to understand pragmatism one must first be willing/able to face reality in the face and accept it when it shows you something you would prefer not to be seeing. This is the problem with the value of truthiness that the NA conservative movement seems to embraced, especially in foreign affairs/security issues/policies. If all one is able to comprehend is an ideological/partisan perspective and only able to accept information that fits within those ideological/partisan blinders/parameters then of course one is going to suck royally at being pragmatic. Which given the inherent pragmatic streak that runs throughout Canadian political history would be one explanation for why ideologically rigid parties do not tend to do well here while more pragmatic (or as CPCers like calling them morally adrift/lacking) parties like the Libs tend to form governments for lengthy periods of our history.