Saturday, October 28, 2006

Proof Afghanistan Is Lost

The simple fact that Karzai is extending an olive branch to Mullah Omar is alarming enough. What is even more worrisome, the Taliban isn't inclined to talk, which speaks to their strength:
KABUL — Taliban leaders have ruled out talks with President Hamid Karzai's government as long as foreign troops remain in Afghanistan, a purported statement from the hardline militia said Saturday.

On Friday, Mr. Karzai told reporters he was ready to negotiate with fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar if he stops receiving support from neighbouring Pakistan — where the Afghan leader alleges Mr. Omar is hiding.

The purported statement from the Taliban, sent by e-mail Saturday to The AP by militant spokesman Muhammad Hanif, dismissed Mr. Karzai's latest offer of talks and called his administration a “puppet government.”

“We say even today that there is no possibility of any talks when the country is under occupation,” the Pashto-language statement said. “Any talks with aggressors would amount to selling the country.”

What does it say when the Afghan leader finds it necessary to "reach out" to Al Qaeda's political arm? How dire the situation, that one of the world's most wanted men is asked to negotiate? How telling, that the Taliban, which were supposedly on the run, feels no urgency to deal with the Afghan government? The differing postures tell us quite alot about the state of Afghanistan. The side of "freedom" looks desperate, while the former regime seems quite willing to bide their time while things continue to unravel.

It really is staggering that Karzai finds it necessary to ask for reconciliation talks with Osama's chum. Clearly, there is a sense within the Afghan powerbase that the situation is tenious and the future more troublesome. How can Canada be expected to remain in Afghanistan if the forces they fight everyday are eventually melded into the government? What is the point of all these deaths if the outcome is capitulation? That is what these proposed "talks" really are, because the Afghan government is no match for the Taliban. Karzai is willing to legitimize the core reason why we fight in the country.

I see Karzai's overture, and the subsequent Taliban response, as the clearest indication that Afghanistan is lost. Our military objectives are destined to fail, as we engage in some sick game of whack a mole. Our leadership can speak to nobility and honor all they want, what is really relevant is how the home government views the situation. Apparently, Karzai has concluded that the Taliban is woven into Afghan society and will be a player for years to come. This conclusion begs the question- what are we doing there? The time has come to pour all our resources into re-construction(where possible), abandon the military objectives and invest in the Afghan army. There are no military objectives, Karzai has made this fact clear.

21 comments:

knb said...

Did you read this today?

Steve V said...

knb

I haven't seen that, thx. How ridiculous does this sound:

"The threat, attributed to a member of the al-Qaeda information and strategy committee"

knb said...

It sounds bloody scary and organized to me.

What on earth are we doing?

My first thought when I read the article you cited, was Lebanon. Surely Karzai doesn't want to be in Sinoria's position?

I like your suggestion as to what we should do. How we'd ever get this government to see that, many of the Lib's too, I'm not sure. The protests today were fairly strong, but I suspect the politicians ignore them.

Steve V said...

knb

I immediately thought of Lebanon as well. I bet Bush would be anxious to know when the next time the "committee" meets.

knb said...

Indeed he would...he'd send Rove to take notes on message dissemination.

We're in a very bad place in time right now, IMHO. We need to make changes now...but these things always drag out beyond where it makes sense to shift.

How does common sense evade us so easily?

Olaf said...

Steve,

As you well know, I completely disagree.

That is what these proposed "talks" really are, because the Afghan government is no match for the Taliban.

This, however, I completely agree with. Which is why I think it's essential for the Afghans that we do not pull out, because this will surely result in a return of Taliban rule, following the requisite bloody civil war,of course.

I mean, if we believe in rebuilding a Taliban-free Afghanistan, should we not provide more troops, and more resources for reconstruction, instead of less?

Surely you believe if NATO pulls out, the Taliban will soon return to power in the south (where those Western troops involved in reconstruction will be attacked). From there, they will be able to attack any remaining NATO troops in the north and west, making any reconstruction efforts there too dangerous and futile to undertake.

Eventually, as you said, the Afghan government is no match for the Taliban, and the latter will retake power.

Why don't you just admit that you're in favour of abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban, as this is the only possible outcome of pulling out NATO troops? I'm not suggesting that this is what you would prefer, of course you wouldn't. But it's the likely outcome of the policy you suggest.

Don't hide behind the face-saving charade that "we're not abandoning them, we'll give them aid and help rebuild their country".

Just say: "I think there is no way we can win, the Taliban will come back into power no matter what, there's nothing we can do about it, and I don't think we should sacrifice more Canadian lives in a lost cause. We should leave Afghans to fend for themselves."

This is a perfectly reasonable position, and may prove to be the correct one. But don't pretend you're not in favour of abandoning the Afghans to the Taliban.

Sorry to be abrasive, I just take issue with the Layton line that "we can still help Afghans" when they are under the unbelievably oppressive control of the Taliban.

Steve V said...

olaf

"Why don't you just admit that you're in favour of abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban, as this is the only possible outcome of pulling out NATO troops?"

I don't endorse the Layton position, because I believe the troops should stay. How the troops are used, the nature of the mission is another matter.

Karzai's overture to the Taliban effectively legitimizes their presence. Will they join the Afghan army, and we have another Iraq situation? Negotiating with the Taliban is an admission of defeat, where does NATO go with this reality? I think you are missing the point if these talks actually take place. Karzai gives impunity, which makes the NATO mission irrelevant. If this is where the Afghan government is going, then the mission has already changed, which just haven't been told yet, while soldiers continue to die.

Olaf said...

Steve,

I don't endorse the Layton position, because I believe the troops should stay. How the troops are used, the nature of the mission is another matter.

I did not take this from your post, so thanks for clarifying.

Will they join the Afghan army, and we have another Iraq situation? Negotiating with the Taliban is an admission of defeat, where does NATO go with this reality?

Very good questions, and depending on their answers, I would definitely rethink my position on Canada's involvement.

I suppose it all depends on where Karzai thinks he's going with this... it's my impression that he's just feeling them out, seeing if the Mullah would consider sitting down for a preliminary and cordial chat over a declicious Afghan cup of tea... but I could be wrong.

Maybe we should not speculate on what Karzai is willing to offer before he clarifies - and I'll be interested to hear what Blair, Bush, Harpo and the Dutch PM/Pres (whoever he is) have to say about this possibility, as these are surely the countries with the most to lose.

Steve V said...

I wonder what the Americans think of the Omar outreach. Given the overt Al Qaeda connection, it is tantamount to negotiating with terrorists. Will Bush drop his bounty?

Jan_ from_ BruceCounty said...

Olaf, you really are way to distant to the Afghani reality (like I am), when you state that we need "to hear what Blair, Bush, Harpo and the Dutch PM/Pres (whoever he is) have to say about this possibility, as these are surely the countries with the most to lose." What ever happen to the Afghani population in this mix as this country is the one with the most to lose, which is why Karzai wants to negotiate a peace plan. This is this country's daily reality and increasing civilian death toll by NATO forces that is staring him in the face. There is no road to peace, as peace is the way.

Robert McClelland said...

I don't endorse the Layton position, because I believe the troops should stay. How the troops are used, the nature of the mission is another matter.

That is the Layton position.

Steve V said...

Jan raises an excellent point. It is the NATO operations which are pushing people back to the Taliban. You can't win hearts and minds by dropping bombs and razing villages. While the motivations might be admirable, our presence in its current configuration effectively undermines the goals. Right now, we appear more the problem than the solution, with the Taliban eager to manipulate frustration for their own ends.

Steve V said...

robert

Didn't Layton advocate "immediate" withdrawal and use words like "bring them home"?

knb said...

olaf, if you can provide an example, where this military action, from the outside has worked, (in contemporary circumstances), I'll listen. I know of none.

To speculate as to what Karzai may have been suggesting, beyond what the article says, is your own projection of events as you would like to see them.

What do you honestly think we can accomplish in our present format? The Taliban are growing in number and strength..we've been there how long?

The point is, what is working for the Afghani's. No one, I repeat, no one, wants the return of Taliban rule, but are we diminishing or aiding that concept?

Is there a better way?

and I'll be interested to hear what Blair, Bush, Harpo and the Dutch PM/Pres (whoever he is) have to say about this possibility, as these are surely the countries with the most to lose.

You're kidding right? They have proven to be so sage-like, so accurate, so blatantly stupid every step of the way. You want their advice? Incredible.

Olaf said...

Ok... one at a time,

First, Jan,

you really are way to distant to the Afghani reality (like I am), when you state that we need "to hear what Blair, Bush, Harpo and the Dutch PM/Pres (whoever he is) have to say about this possibility, as these are surely the countries with the most to lose."

First, I misspoke. I meant since Karzai had already been heard, than these would be the world leaders who would have the most to lose out of NATO forces. If you'll become familiar with my position (which isn't your responsibility, I should have become more clear), I have based my entire defence of the mission on what I consider the good of the Afghan people. For me, it has never been about terrorism, etc., it has always been about what is best for the Afghans, and in my opinion, Taliban rule is not.

Robert,

You don't know what the fuck Layton's position is, because he hasn't said so. He's obfuscated every step of the way. First, he makes a big deal about "bringing the troops home", which to me, seems to suggest home in Canada; then, he seems to change his tune to having them only out of southern Afghanistan.

Then, it's about rebalancing the mission. It's not about contributing more resources to aid and reconstruction, mind you, which would rebalance the mission, it's about bringing troops home... or to safer places of afghanistan, which wouldn't ever come under attack after NATO leaves the south...

He hasn't clarified, because he's trying to play both the "full pullout" crowd, and the Kennedy "rebalance" crowd, and is doing so successfully, because he won't come out with a CLEAR statement on what he wants done with the 2200+ troops in the region.

Steve,

It is the NATO operations which are pushing people back to the Taliban.

Right, which they wouldn't have the choice of if NATO wasn't in the region. They wouldn't have the choice of clandestine or open support for the Taliban, because they'd be under Taliban rule. Lets not pretend like if NATO wasn't there, the Afghan people would reject Taliban force, and only support them because of a grudge against the NATO killers.

KNB,

if you can provide an example, where this military action, from the outside has worked, (in contemporary circumstances), I'll listen

I don't know what exactly you're looking for here. Um, Serbia?

The point is, what is working for the Afghani's. No one, I repeat, no one, wants the return of Taliban rule, but are we diminishing or aiding that concept?

Do you seriously think it would be harder for the Taliban to regain power if NATO wasn't there? Because if you do I've completely lost interest in your opinionon the matter... unless you can clarify, everyone deserves a second chance.

You're kidding right? They have proven to be so sage-like, so accurate, so blatantly stupid every step of the way. You want their advice? Incredible.

I never once said that I wanted their advice. Not once. I said I was interested in what they would say. In fact, I thought this was a dead thread where Steve would read it and that's it, which is why I didn't feel reluctant to post a personal curiosity.

If I knew it would be attacked as if I was making some sort of comment, as if I was some sort of idiot, I would have thought twice.

knb said...

Olaf, I'm not attacking you and I apologise if I came off that way.

I'm seriously frustrated about this subject. I cannot see us, Canada, making headway here.

You said: Do you seriously think it would be harder for the Taliban to regain power if NATO wasn't there? Because if you do I've completely lost interest in your opinionon the matter...

No, I think NATO is keeping them at bay, but I would ask to what end? Do we, NATO, stay there forever? Do you believe that this movement will just die out? I think not.

I don't have the answers olaf, I'm just not sure we're doing the right thing here. There has to be a smarter way.

Again, no attack...I've been the recipient of that and that is not what I intended.

Olaf said...

KNB,

My apologies for being sensitive... I guess I felt backed up into a corner (I think McClelland threw me off... he always does!)

My mistake though. I also don't have all the answers, clearly. I hope I don't come off as over confident in my proposed solution, because I am anything but.

Do we, NATO, stay there forever? Do you believe that this movement will just die out? I think not.

No, I don't either. What I am hoping is that if we are able to hold them at bay long enough for serious reconstruction to take place in the north, in Kabul, and in the west, that the Afghan government will be able to provide security for it's people, and that the majority of the Afghans will be more likely to support a government which is able to provide them with representation in government, infrastructure, basic women's rights, a primary education, and basic necessities, and will have far less reason to support the Taliban.

I may be naive, I'll grant that. But this is what I'm hoping can happen, so long as NATO keeps the Taliban at bay for long enough to produce this outcome.

I'm hoping that greater prosperity in the North and West (where the majority of NATO nations have PRTs) will be contagious. I'm hoping that if they are able to create a better quality of life for Afghans, then those in the south will be interested in the same thing, and be less inclined to support the Taliban out of desperation. This I hope, and I have not been convinced that it is impossible yet.

There has to be a smarter way.

Jesus, I hope so... but I'm yet to hear an alternative that wouldn't end in Taliban-rule.

In conclusion, I'm not sure that a solution involving military security provided by NATO will work. I could be completely wrong.

I guess that I'm very, very reluctant to put my opinion behind a policy pulling NATO troops out (not that it makes ANY difference what I think), because I can't think of a worse tragedy than a return of the Taliban to power, and I don't see that as inevitable yet.

This is a highly anecdotal story, and you can take it or leave it.

But on the news today, I saw the anti-war protestors with their Harper=War Monger signs (which offended me personally, for some reason, because I don't see the Afghan mission like that at all), chanting and what not. Then they briefly cut to an Afghan couple: one in full burkha, the other an elderly, bearded Afghan male. Both came out to face the protesters, by themselves, and both painted their index fingers with purple ink, and held them up proudly, as if they'd just voted.

The clip (on CBC newsworld) showed the woman in a burkha talking, saying to an anti-war protester, that you are not speaking for Afghan people, that Afghan people need your help. The young white man (like myself) with the anti-war sign stood there completely dumbfounded, knowing that he could not presume to tell these Afghans what their people needed.

As I said, not only highly anecdotal, but also unverifiable (unless you watched Newsworld tonight). You'll have to take my word that such an event was on the news. But nothing has ever solidified my position more.

Olaf said...

For anyone still awake, you can see the clip I was talking about here... watch CBC newsworlds hourly newscast, at about 2:20 (mins).

I apparently exaggerated the woman's comments slightly, but watch it for yourselves. May be gone by tomorrow, I warn.

knb said...

Olaf, I'm still awake, but very tired. I tried to find the link you referred to, but couldn't find the clip. It matters not, I trust you saw what you saw and appreciate your clarification.

I still think we may disagree on points, but can we pick this up tomorrow?

You know, I hate fights on blogs. I'm far more amenable to intelligent discourse, so thank you for your response.

Olaf said...

KNB,

I'm sure we do still disagree on points, and I'm sorry that you didn't find the clip; not that it would change you opinion any and not that it should... as I said, it's quite anecdotal.

You're at a disadvantage however, since I sleep not! Family trait.

I look forward to renewing our discussion later.

knb said...

No sleep??? Now there is a dangerous habit! I thoroughly enjoyed the extra hour today.

I am sorry that I was unable to find the clip on CBC. I see looking today just how simple it was, but alas, I was just too tired to read.

I have no doubt that a number of Afghans do indeed want NATO to stay, as I'm sure that there are many who want us to leave.

I guess I can sum up by saying, that in 5 years, too much has been mismanaged. The planning has been poor at best and there seems to be no cohesive strategy, to actually reverse the mistakes of the past and move forward. It's a holding pattern of more of the same, with the Taliban gaining strength and resources, to my eye.

I do not want to see Canada, stuck in a vicious circle. I believe they, our military, deserve better than that.

Obviously, none of us know what is going on strategically and I can only go by what I read, but the government is offering no explanation.

We need more real discourse. Canadians are smart enough to engage in this debate, in spite of it's complexities. I'm well aware that it was a Liberal government that committed us, however, how Harper extended this mission, I take great exception to, (that was polite btw, lol).

I have yet to read Steve's new post, but would like to explore it.