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Afghanistan in Crisis

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Posted on Nov 29, 2008
Afghan ministry attack
AP photo / Rahmat Gul

Security men inspect the entrance to Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul after a Taliban suicide attack Oct. 30 killed five and wounded scores.

By Robert Fisk

Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in The Independent.


The collapse of Afghanistan is closer than the world believes. Kandahar is in Taliban hands—all but a square mile at the centre of the city—and the first Taliban checkpoints are scarcely 15 miles from Kabul. Hamid Karzai’s deeply corrupted government is almost as powerless as the Iraqi cabinet in Baghdad’s “Green Zone”; lorry drivers in the country now carry business permits issued by the Taliban which operate their own courts in remote areas of the country.

The Red Cross has already warned that humanitarian operations are being drastically curtailed in ever larger areas of Afghanistan; more than 4,000 people, at least a third of them civilians, have been killed in the past 11 months, along with scores of Nato troops and about 30 aid workers. Both the Taliban and Mr Karzai’s government are executing their prisoners in ever greater numbers. The Afghan authorities hanged five men this month for murder, kidnap or rape—one prisoner, a distant relative of Mr Karzai, predictably had his sentence commuted—and more than 100 others are now on Kabul’s death row.

This is not the democratic, peaceful, resurgent, “gender-sensitive” Afghanistan that the world promised to create after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Outside the capital and the far north of the country, almost every woman wears the all-enshrouding burkha, while fighters are now joining the Taliban’s ranks from Kashmir, Uzbekistan, Chechnya and even Turkey. More than 300 Turkish fighters are now believed to be in Afghanistan, many of them holding European passports.

“Nobody I know wants to see the Taliban back in power,” a Kabul business executive says—anonymity is now as much demanded as it was before 2001—“but people hate the government and the parliament which doesn’t care about their security. The government is useless. With so many internally displaced refugees pouring into Kabul from the countryside, there’s mass unemployment—but of course, there are no statistics.

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“The ‘open market’ led many of us into financial disaster. Afghanistan is just a battlefield of ideology, opium and political corruption. Now you’ve got all these commercial outfits receiving contracts from people like USAID. First they skim off 30 to 50 per cent for their own profits—then they contract out and sub-contract to other companies and there’s only 10 per cent of the original amount left for the Afghans themselves.”

Afghans working for charitable organisations and for the UN are telling their employers that they are coming under increasing pressure to give information to the Taliban and provide them with safe houses. In the countryside, farmers live in fear of both sides in the war. A very senior NGO official in Kabul—again, anonymity was requested—says both the Taliban and the police regularly threaten villagers. “A Taliban group will arrive at a village headman’s door at night—maybe 15 or 16 of them—and say they need food and shelter. And the headman tells the villagers to give them food and let them stay at the mosque. Then the police or army arrive in the day and accuse the villagers of colluding with the Taliban, detain innocent men and threaten to withhold humanitarian aid. Then there’s the danger the village will be air-raided by the Americans.”

In the city of Ghazni, the Taliban ordered all mobile phones to be switched off from 5pm until 6am for fear that spies would use them to give away guerrilla locations. The mobile phone war may be one conflict the government is winning. With American help the Interior Ministry police can now track and triangulate calls. Once more, the Americans are talking about forming “tribal militias” to combat the Taliban, much as they did in Iraq and as the Pakistani authorities have tried to do on the North West Frontier. But the tribal lashkars of the [1980s] were corrupted by the Russians and when the system was first tried out two years ago—it was called the Auxiliary Police Force—it was a fiasco. The newly-formed constabulary stopped showing up for work, stole weapons and turned themselves into private militias.

“Now every time a new Western ambassador arrives in Kabul, they dredge it all up again,” another NGO official says in near despair. “ ‘Oh,’ they proclaim, ‘let’s have local militias—what a bright idea.’ But that will not solve the problem. The country is subject to brigandage as well as the cruelty of the Taliban and the air raids which Afghans find so outrageous. The international community has got to stop spinning and do some fundamental thinking which should have been done four or five years ago.”

What this means to those Westerners who have spent years in Kabul is simple. Is it really the overriding ambition of Afghans to have “democracy”? Is a strong federal state possible in Afghanistan? Is the international community ready to take on the warlords and drug barons who are within Mr Karzai’s own government? And—most important of all—is development really about “securing the country”? The tired old American adage that “where the Tarmac ends, the Taliban begins” is untrue. The Taliban are mounting checkpoints on those very same newly-built roads.

The Afghan Minister of Defence has 65,000 troops under his dubious command but says he needs 500,000 to control Afghanistan. The Soviets failed to contain the country even when they had 100,000 troops here with 150,000 Afghan soldiers in support. And as Barack Obama prepares to send another 7,000 US soldiers into the pit of Afghanistan, the Spanish and Italians are talking of leaving while the Norwegians may pull their 500 troops out of the area north of Heart. Repeatedly, Western leaders talk of the “key”—of training more and more Afghans to fight in the army. But that was the same “key” which the Russians tried—and it did not fit the lock.

“We” are not winning in Afghanistan. Talk of crushing the Taliban seems as bleakly unrealistic as it has ever been. Indeed, when the President of Afghanistan tries to talk to Mullah Omar—one of America’s principal targets in this wretched war—you know the writing is on the wall. And even Mullah Omar didn’t want to talk to Mr Karzai.

Partition is the one option that no one will discuss—giving the southern part of Afghanistan to the Taliban and keeping the rest—but that will only open another crisis with Pakistan because the Pashtuns, who form most of the Taliban, would want all of what they regard as “Pashtunistan”; and that would have to include much of Pakistan’s own tribal territories. It will also be a return to the “Great Game” and the redrawing of borders in south-west Asia, something which—history shows— has always been accompanied by great bloodshed.


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By Sepharad, December 3, 2008 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Afghanistan has never not been in crisis, the people have always been at the mercy of warlords, and women, well, the women have always been really f——-. In fact, for Afghan women, the Khyber Pass era Brits, the Russians, the American invasions have probably been extremely welcome as distractions for the overly-religious Afghan men. There is a large group of Afghanis living in the SFBay Area, and their recollections of life in Afghanistan are uniformly appalling. One family we knew decided that things were so bad under the Taliban for women that our friend’s husband was dispatched to Afghanistan to get her sister out of Kabul. Unfortunately, he’d gotten as far as Egypt when 9/11 happened and had a really hard time getting back in the U.S. Months. His wife came up to stay with us for a few weeks, fearful of hostility even in San Francisco while her husband was gone. Last year he tried again to find his sister-in-law—again a nightmare getting out of the U.S., into Afghanistan and back—but was unable to locate her. This family says that people were less upset under the corrupt warlords and poppy growers than they were under the Taliban, of whom most nonfundamentalists are terrified.  They were preyed upon financially by the warlords, of course,  but not killed for being religiously-incorrect. It’s always seemed a little weird to me that a freedom-loving horse-riding people like the Afghani are so imprisoned by a religious culture. Invaders they can deal with. No problem. But the Taliban? I’m told the experience is like being in the worst sort of jail with no hope of parole. If we succeeded in nothing else in Afghanistan, I truly wish we could have at least driven out the Taliban, pure as Mullah Omar thinks he is. The warlords and indeed the individual tribesmen under them are truly formidable yet confounded by the Taliban. I’d say our chances of catching up with old bin Laden and the Ts, in whatever ‘stan, are probably less than zero.

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By cann4ing, December 3, 2008 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

When the U.S. launched its invasion in December 2001, the purported objective was to capture or kill bin Laden, not to replace the existing government, however abhorrent the Taliban may be.  As a number of posters recognize, the hidden goal was and is access to oil via control of the Stans and as exhibited in our near-disastrous involvement with Georgia.

As usual, Fadel hits the nail on the head by describing our presence as part of “a vicious cycle of the colonial crooked mentality.”  The usually astute Robert Fisk aptly describes the utter chaos wrought by this imperial conquest, but fails to offer basic solutions—solutions that would require a fundamental introspection by the American public—and one would hope, by the Obama administration, to the fallacy of Empire and the so-called “war on terror.”

The goal should still be to capture, kill if necessary, Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda cohorts—but not as part of either a unilateral or collective “war on terror.”  Acts of terror carried out by stateless entities are not “war” but crimes.  The solution in this instance would be to undertake a diplomatic effort under the aegis of the U.N. that includes all relevant players in the region, including not only India, Pakistan and the Karzai government, but also including the Taliban which would look to both a negotiated resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan that included the eventual withdrawal of all foreign troops and a truly international effort to bring “all” perpetrators of 9/11 and Mumbai before the international bar of justice.

Of course, if we Americans are going to demand justice, we must be prepared to do justice by, finally, joining the world court and subjecting all Americans who were responsible for war crimes to the jurisdiction of that court.

One would hope that American hubris and hypocrisy would also be abandoned when it comes to the 41-year illegal, brutal occupation of the West Bank and the apartheid wall surrounding Gaza.  No justice, no peace.

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By Ipsi Dixit, December 3, 2008 at 6:15 am Link to this comment

I would hardly describe the taking back by Afghans of their country from foreign invaders a crisis.  You might not like the Taliban (who are but only one of the groups attacking Anglo-American imperialists) but that is irrelevant.  Would the author describe the taking back of Vietnam by the Vietminh a crisis; I’d call it liberation and I’m sure the Vietnamese would too.  Likewise if South Korea were to be re-united under North Korean leadership (or vise-versa).

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DerekTheDreaded's avatar

By DerekTheDreaded, December 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

“By ZachP, December 1 at 2:37 pm #


Afghanistan can never, ever be pacified through occupation.  The Afghans have thrown out every single invader throughout history.  Sending more American troops there means more targets for the Taliban and more civilians that the larger American forces will end of killing.  Nothing good will come of it.”

*cough*VIETNAM*cough*

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By TAO Walker, December 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

For those here who recognize all this as the shadow-play it obviously is, the question becomes:  Why waste anymore of your precious attention on it?  Events and circumstances have already long since overwhelmed the diminishing capacity of even the “powers” that wannabe to exercise even the slightest effective (nevermind generally beneficial) “control” over this ideoligical and institutional and technological “perfect storm.”

Meanwhile, it’s really not all that complicated.  Those who continue to help their selfs are self-condemned to a world-of-hurt.  Those who help one another will be fully engaged in the Song ‘n’ Dance of Life Herownself.  Seems to this old Indian like one of those “no-brainers” you hear so much about here in these latter days.  Let’s face it, Sisters and Brothers, even rocket science is no more than a fancy way of throwing….well, ROCKS!  “Even a caveman can do it.”

So the “civilized” peoples sure aren’t the hot stuff they like to believe they are.  They sure ARE deep in Bush-the-Elder’s “doo-doo,” though.

HokaHey!

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By psickmind fraud, December 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

You may be aware that we’ve been paying tens of thousands of Sunnis $300/month each not to attack American and Iraqi troops.  Several of the commanders in Iraq have said this has been the most effective part of “the surge”.  So why don’t we just get the hell out of Iraq and pay ‘em all not to attack?  It would save American lives, and probably be cheaper, too! 


Meanwhile, we can’t possibly secure the thousands of miles of border that we have here.  If Mexican peasants can get in time and again, surely more educated and instructed terrorists could get in any time they wanted.  Meanwhile all our protectors have started a war in Iraq and 5 years later they’re still there, and we’re still vulnerable.

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By psickmind fraud, December 2, 2008 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Frank, you obviously missed the info from several years ago that 1)Al Quaida didn’t have a major presence in Iraq before we invaded, in fact Saddam and Al Quaida were at odds and 2) that even the Pentagon said that our invasion and occupation was creating more terrorists.  So by your Bushian (actually Cheneyan) logic, lets just invade and occupy some countries, create a few more terrorists, and send lots of Americans there for them to kill and maim. 

Of course there is a common thread in your WWII analogy, and that would be the Bush family, as granpappy Prescott Bush joined up with Averill Harriman and helped to finance Hitler.  Funny how 3 consecutive generations of the Bush clan have been heavily involved in wars, and they just keep gettin richer!

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By Frank, December 1, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

Frank, why would Al Quaida want to go to the logistical problems of attacking us here when they can stay in the Middle East and wreck our economy and kill and maim our soldiers

Boy, I’ll bet nobody in the Bush administration or upcoming Obama cabinet has thought of that point in the context of the war on Al Quaida. Excellent point. It makes far more sense to let the enemy come to our home turf and attack unarmed civilians en masse than to take the battle to them with well-armed professional soldiers on the battlefield. I mean, who came up with the goofy idea that the military exists to fight it’s countries battles, rather than it’s civilians at home.

Come to think of it, we could have avoided the whole costly invasion of Europe in WW2, and just waited for the Nazis to come to us. But we chose to invade, where they had the home turf advantage and they had us right where they wanted us.  Or something like that. What were we thinking.

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By sophrosyne, December 1, 2008 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush always leaves the impression, smugly, that he won in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He won in neither place.  I do think Obama needs to give a speech that clearly indicates that we have not won in Afghanistan and what the real choices are.  No one has yet done that.  Even Obama implies that simply throwing more men and money at the problem will do it.

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By ZachP, December 1, 2008 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

Afghanistan can never, ever be pacified through occupation.  The Afghans have thrown out every single invader throughout history.  Sending more American troops there means more targets for the Taliban and more civilians that the larger American forces will end of killing.  Nothing good will come of it.

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By psickmind fraud, December 1, 2008 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Frank, why would Al Quaida want to go to the logistical problems of attacking us here when they can stay in the Middle East and wreck our economy and kill and maim our soldiers, all the time having the home court advantage?  They’ve already succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, and everyday it’s just like getting up and going to work. “Lucy, I’m going to go kill some Americans and cost them another hundred million dollars.  I’ll be home at 5”. 

If we’d really wanted to catch bin Laden (and if he’s what we’ve been told) would we have warned for days that we were coming to apprehend this nomad?

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By cyrena, December 1, 2008 at 1:38 am Link to this comment

By Pierce R. Butler, November 30 at 11:38 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

Fadel Abdallah: ... The title of this piece made me laugh ...
Cyrena: Mr. Fiske is probably not at the top of his game on this piece.

It’s a long established practice, I’m sure no less at Truthdig.com than at the Independent, that reporters don’t write headlines, and rarely see what their editors have called their work until it’s published.

~~~

Well DUH Mr. Pierce….it was a comment from Fadel about the irony of the title, seeing as how Afghanistan has been in crises forever, and the US attack has only made things worse for Afghan civilians, breaking the country down even more than it already was, if that can be imagined. Fadel and I are both aware of how articles are frequently headlined. He’s published enough, and so have I, though in the scholarly journals, most authors DO title their own work. No. That is not the case on Truthdig.

Besides, I wasn’t referencing the headline alone when I suggested that Fiske wasn’t at the top of his game on this particular piece. Fiske is erratic, which I suppose is his due after all of this time. However, I don’t think that was even your reason for posting. Such needless commenting was apparently just a lame cover for this…

“Unfortunately, it appears that it’s Mr. Obama whose game needs improvement. Repeating others’ mistakes is not the “Change” the US voted for…”

Unfortunately, you appear to have very bad vision, if it ‘appears’ to you that President Obama’s game needs improvement. Then again, maybe you see things that others don’t. I’ve yet to see President-elect Obama repeating the mistakes of others, so you must be one of the crystal ball crowd. And like them, your crystal ball is in serious need of calibration.

Meantime, based on what many of us are seeing, Obama is preparing to deliver EXACTLY the change that the US voted for, in terms of ALL the survival issues we are facing.

Sadly, there’s probably little he can personally change about the crises that Afghanistan has been in for decades, (Louise says centuries, and I’m inclined to trust her, since I’ve not read the history that far back) so that won’t improve until, as Fiske says, the International Community can stop spinning and join the effort.

The damage from the Dick Bush regime (at least on the international level) is more extensive than we’ve seen since WWII..probably worse. Unless the international community can come together to find a solution, there won’t be one. However, there’s a chance, dependent on how the new Administration chooses to behave within that entity, that a solution finally CAN be achieved.

Neither President-elect Obama or his administration has been shy about making it clear that they intend to change the behavior that the US has displayed in a way that WILL restore our good name in the international community. Based on that and multiple other statements from the new President, I have no reason to doubt that he will follow though, and direct his staff to do the same.

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By diamond, November 30, 2008 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Sounds just like what American free market fanatics did to Chile.They left the country in ruins and the taxpayers had to bail the economy out. Sound familiar? Afghanistan is Chile on steroids. Can’t end well. But don’t worry: all they have to do is build a McDonald’s and no one who has a McDonald’s will have a war with them. Surely someone can fit Tom Friedman with one of those collars that will give him a small electric shock every time he speaks? The earth might be flat to him but he’s a multi-millionaire and 99.9% of the people in Afghanistan don’t, as the saying goes, have a pot to piss in. The idea that imposing a western style free market on Afghanistan will give them one is part of the madness of our time.

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By Alan, November 30, 2008 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The 2009 Womens’ revolt in Afghanistan was the
solution to the regional problem.  Organized in early
2009, the Womens’ revolt in Afghanistan spread
quickly.  Women stormed all Taliban strongholds,
sheered the men and made them swear unbreakable allegiance to a social-democratic Afghan state.
The foreign troops were expelled, the borders secured,
the schools re-opened to all.  General prosperity
and enlightened government commenced with the
Womens’ revolt in Afghanistan.

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By Folktruther, November 30, 2008 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

As detailed in the extraordinary THE WAR ON TRUTH by Nafeez Ahmed, and other places as well, the US decided to invade Afghanistan a few months BEFORE 9/11.  Unical oil was negoitiating a pipeline to take the Caspian oil to the Arabian sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the Taliban’s demands became too expensive.

So the whole War on Terrorism fable was rigged up and the fear and rage at the 9//11-antrhax attack, which was operatively a false flag operation, powered the absurdity of the story.  Al Quada actually was operatively founded and partially controlled by the Western intelligence agencies, with the US CIA and state department protecting them, as they still are.

The “Stans” of Central Asia have fallen back into Russian-Chinese influence so the pipeline is a dead issue now.  But the US is the head of Nato in Afghanistan and if they lose, this will affect US power in Europe.  Actually the Europeans and Canada are bailing anyway since they see it a lost cause, but Obama wants to prevent a loss on his watch, which would be held against him at the next elections.

So Bush and Obama are exerting pressure on both Pakistan and India to engage more actively on the US side. This will delay a loss until after the 2012 election, after a huge loss of life.  But US foreign policy has been so murderous under Bush, and before, probably few Americans will notice. 

So Bush-Obama are both involved in expanding the war, which may have been the motivation behind the current Indian terrorist incident.

Since Obama is continuing the policies of Bush in other areas as well, expanding the Afghan war does not offer any particular problem to him or his apologists.

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By Pierce R. Butler, November 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fadel Abdallah: ... The title of this piece made me laugh ...
Cyrena: Mr. Fiske is probably not at the top of his game on this piece.

It’s a long established practice, I’m sure no less at Truthdig.com than at the Independent, that reporters don’t write headlines, and rarely see what their editors have called their work until it’s published.

Unfortunately, it appears that it’s Mr. Obama whose game needs improvement. Repeating others’ mistakes is not the “Change” the US voted for.

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By Louise, November 30, 2008 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

Afghanistan has been in Crisis for three centuries!Racked by war since 1709, Afghanistan has been split and re-shaped on a regular basis. All the while various tribes and tribal war lords fighting for and holding their own regions.

For over two thousand years, Afghanistan was part of a land of great empires and flourishing trade. But the area’s heterogeneous groups, were not bound into a single political entity until the reign of Ahmed Shah Durrani, who in 1747 founded the monarchy that ruled the country until 1973.

But even then, war continued on. The Anglo-Afghan wars 1839–42, 1878–80 and 1919, well established an imprint of violence, for the sake of personal gain, in the area. Which we see continue in todays multi-national presence and regional tribal behavior.

An expanding Russian Empire pushing for advantage in the Afghanistan region was seen as a threat to British India. Which led to battles between the two empires, who moved steadily closer to one another until they met in Afghanistan. That clash led to establishing [1893] borders that define todays Afghanistan. In the process many were displaced, and fresh new resentment’s were created.

The new border [Durand Line] cut through tribes without account of demography or military strategy. And laid the foundation not for peace between the border regions, but for heated disagreement between the governments of Afghanistan and British India. And later Afghanistan and Pakistan. Which continue to this day.

But, in spite of all the forces from within and without, the heterogeneous groups continued on. Small tribal bands who control, often by use of force and religious law, land and people within their own regions.  The traditions of autonomous government within each group have changed little over the centuries. And they still move freely across borders created by foreign governments.

The longest period of stability in Afghanistan was between 1933 and 1973, when the country was under the rule of King Zahir Shah. In 1973, Mohammed Daoud Khan, launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan.

Following a 1978 uprising, Nur Mohammad Taraki became President, Prime Minister and General Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. And the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. That regime lasted, in some form or other, until April 1992.

City folk welcomed the new government. But the secular government was unpopular with religious conservatives outside the cities. The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared the conservative ‘Islamic’ ideology, to overthrow the pro-Soviet, secular Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

The U.S. saw that as an opportunity to weaken the Soviet Union, and in 1979 as part of a Cold War strategy, began to fund Mujahideen forces fighting the pro-Soviet government.

The Soviet Union intervened on December 24, 1979.

That occupation resulted in killing 600,000 to 2 million Afghan civilians. And more than five million Afghans fled to Pakistan, Iran and other parts of the world.

Faced with mounting international pressure and great casualties on both sides, the Soviets withdrew in 1989, which was seen by the U.S. as a Cold War victory.

The U.S. backed the Mujahideen through three administrations in order to counter Soviet influence in the vicinity. But once the Soviets left, the U.S. lost interest in Afghanistan and did little to help rebuild the war-ravaged country or influence events there. Which eventually led to the Taliban, who gained control in 1992.

Fighting between Empires was never about religion, the people, or even natural resources in Afghanistan. It was always about competing for control.

Afghanistan became Empires killing field.

The fight for geography led to creating a population that hates foreign intervention, and the appearance of democratic government. And that hatred has been growing for three centuries!

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By writeon, November 30, 2008 at 10:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The war in Afghanistan can never be ‘won’ by the West, in the sense of defeating the Afghans and imposing a pro-Western regime on the entire country and determining how the Afghans should live.

If we can’t ‘win’ can we be defeated by the forces ranges against us? Certainly, is the short answer. Eventually, is the long one. Eventually we’ll withdraw, but only after much blood has been spilled, much detruction and at stupendous cost. Then, when we leave; bloodied and exhausted, the Afghans, who are not going anywhere and have time and history on their side, will battle it out over who is in ‘control’ and eventually some kind of ‘stability’ will emerge.

Finally, this whole idea that Afghanistan was behind 9/11 is an over-simplification. Bin Ladin isn’t an evil spider sitting at the centre of an international web, or organization, giving orders to his minions from a cave in the mountains. That’s a convenient, fabricated, story, from a b-movie. What give him strength is his IDEAS and the myth that surrounds him. A myth the Western media has helped to spread.

It’s almost like a conspiracry. He defines the world in a certain way, he has a story to tell which resonates with tens of millions of people, and a vision of another way of living. He’s a ‘spiritual’ leader more than anything now. A legend, a martyr. His message is simple and very dangerous because it’s ‘true.’ Resistance to Western domination of the Muslim world and its resources is possible, subjugation is not permanent; and on our side we need him in order to justify our interference in his world. He provides us with a plausible motive and a recognizable enemy. A reason for our ‘crusade’. Both parties get what they want out of the ‘arrangement.’

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By Frank, November 30, 2008 at 7:26 am Link to this comment

We didn’t got to Afghanistan to liberate the country or for Afghani oil. The US went there to depose the Taliban and destroy Al Quaida who had just attacked the US on 9/11/2001.  They (Al Quaida) have been unable to launch a major attack on the US again for 7 years, largely because they are completely engaged with US forces and our allies there and are fighting just to survive.This is successful containment.

Afghanistan was not a sovereign country before the US went in, far from it. It was dominated by largely foreign Islamic extremists who brutalized the people and denied basic human rights to most of the population. Afghanis in US supported areas have a far higher degree of autonomy and democracy there now than they ever did under the Taliban. That is undeniable.

This war, though poorly managed by Bush, has been successful in suppression of the extremists in much of the country, but more US troops are needed to oust the Taliban from the areas they still control, destroy their training areas,  and further marginalize their influence there.

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By coloradokarl, November 30, 2008 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

The Afghanis are some of the toughest people on earth! They are skilled in the art of trade and especially good at playing foreign invaders for what ever they can get then getting rid of them. They LOVED the Bush Bribe Money! To think we will EVER win the hearts and minds of these proud tribal people is Folly at best and reckless disaster at worst. Buy ALL the Opium Barack Obama! They will Love you and it will cost much less for the tax payers and your political FUTURE!  PEACE

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By Purple Girl, November 30, 2008 at 6:07 am Link to this comment

It didn’t take a psychic to know that the invasion into Afghanistan would be a total cluster, The Russians gave US plenty of evidence that such a venture would be ill fated.
So why the rush into a region which had aided in the collapse of another ‘super power’.....To gain a foot hold into the Oil Rich Region.
How do we rectify this…By convicting and Punishing all those who led US there for the sole purpose. We must also Work to end ALL connection with the M.E. Alternative energy will ultimately reduce their ‘natural resource’to Sludge.then lets see how ‘friendly’ they become with the rest of the World.Beware of what you Wish for Our M.E. Friends, Isolation may be Just What you get.

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By cyrena, November 29, 2008 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

By Fadel Abdallah, November 29 at 6:27 pm #

The title of this piece made me laugh with irony, since it states that “Afghanistan is in crisis.” But since 2001 in particular, when did Afghanistan stop to be in crises?!

~~~~

Fadel,

I experienced the very same reaction. Mr. Fiske is probably not at the top of his game on this piece. Surely he knows this.

But he says this as well:

“..Is it really the overriding ambition of Afghans to have “democracy”? Is a strong federal state possible in Afghanistan? Is the international community ready to take on the warlords and drug barons who are within Mr Karzai’s own government?”

While I’m sure his first question is rhetorical, this really is the whole point. This Imperial practice of pushing “democracy” on the rest of the world whether they want it or not, and by military force no less, is more than a rhetorical issue, since it’s the very reason that Afghanistan is in such crisis to begin with!!

I’ve long since come to the conclusion that the US and NATO have no business in Afghanistan. Never did in my opinion, because I don’t believe this ‘war on terrorism’ BS. More importantly, international law doesn’t allow for it, if state sovereignty means anything at all. (the precedent is most definitely established.)

I do agree with him on this though:

“...The international community has got to stop spinning and do some fundamental thinking which should have been done four or five years ago.”

The problem is that the bureaucratic apparatus of the international community (The UN) has been totally dysfunctional for the past 8 or so years. The Dick Bush Neo-Con Regime has totally undermined the UN and done their very best to make the international community insignificant.

I honestly don’t know how much of that damage can be repaired by a new Executive team. I mean, we only have one representative to the UN, just like every other country, but it would appear that the US and Israel are the only ones running the show. It’s been that way for years, made only worse by the back door appointment of John Bolton, (since Congress wouldn’t confirm him) who creates destruction wherever he goes in the process of carrying out Cheney’s agenda.

So, as much as I believe that the international community should stop spinning, I’m not sure yet, what that will take. I mean, if the international community was even conscious, they would have stepped up to the plate to prevent the US from succeeding in their goal to destroy and totally destabilize these sovereign states and the region in general. At least it would seem so.

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By Fadel Abdallah, November 29, 2008 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment

The title of this piece made me laugh with irony, since it states that “Afghanistan is in crisis.” But since 2001 in particular, when did Afghanistan stop to be in crises?!

I am wondering whether per chance, an enlightened man like Fisk once believed Bush’s lies when he declared his “mission accomplished in Afghanistan.”

One thing that America, Britain and Israel will never learn is that their appointed puppet regimes and CIA / Mossad agents or proteges will never be loved by their fellow country men to the point of accepting them as their true leaders!

It’s a vicious cycle of the colonial crooked mentality to understand the basic elements of normal human psychic in rejecting things imposed by force and terrorism!

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