Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Bungled Policy in Afghanistan

I know, by calling the war in Afghanistan a "failed policy," I risk the outrage of the most righteous of the outraged. I do not care. That is what this war is. It is a policy, regardless of what people think of it, and it is a failure.

Right now, as I write this, we are geared for a ratcheting up of this war. Why? Because this is apparently the one promise that President Obama plans to keep--to use the troops we are taking out of Iraq, redirect them to Afghanistan, and perpetuate the same failures that have left Iraq in the shambles that it is currently in. How bad? You do not hear anyone talking about the success of the 'surge' in Iraq anymore. There is a reason for that. Because the country is still in a state of low intensity war against itself, as well as the insurgency against US troops who continue to occupy it. The wonderful stories from Fox 'news' about how the Iraqi government is sovereign, its military in control of the country, is mitigated by the simple fact that the government itself still has to depend on the US military for protection, as few people (including the right-wing which lied us into that conflict) have any illusions about the possibility of the Iraq government lasting on its own.

As bad as Iraq is, Afghanistan is worse. Its entire government, or what constitutes it, is almost powerless outside of Kabul. What government it has depends on ethno-warlords, most of whom are drug dealers, murderers, thieves, and bandits (and that is not an exaggeration [consider just this sweet bio tale of the Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of America's periodic "allies" in the 'war on terror']).

Having to depend on a couple of dozen of corrupt, heavily armed shysters, and a 'president' who is our Quisling, with a brother that is likely the largest drug dealer in this country (and supplementing his drug income through donations from the CIA, at our expense as American taxpayers), begins to illustrate some of the problems this country is having. And we are not even on the failed attempts to dislodge the Taliban, who according to a recent military report is not only in control of most of the country but made up primarily of non-ideologues and common Afghans fighting what they perceive as a foreign occupier. And that does not include al-Qaeda.

And the politics of the current Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is comprised of the anti-Taliban "freedom fighters," congregated with clerics who support laws like forcing wives to congress with their husbands (essentially, legalizing spousal rape), private executions over public ones, and killing apostates. That is democracy in Afghanistan.

And then there was the recent presidential election in Afghanistan. By all accounts, President Hamid Karzai rigged and attempted to steal the election. About a third of the votes are fraudulent. Not that it matters, of course, because regardless of who wins in the run-off the President of Afghanistan will still be a puppet of the US (a puppet that has to depend on the US for his security because his own people would kill him). How in the world anyone expects a 'democracy' to sprout from all of this is beyond my comprehension.

By now, we are most likely in managerial mode in Afghanistan. But for the appeal of catching bin Laden and mullah Omar, there would be no rational reason to have our military anywhere near Afghanistan. It is a graveyard of empires for a reason. And with a political culture that sees human freedom as an act of shirk, I cannot help but mourn the true victims of this society's ideology, its women (the ones who bear the burdens, lashes, assaults, and rapes at the hands of such god-fearing men). But no cause can justify our maintained military presence in this country, and it is not like women's rights has changed noticeably in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban (just the opposite).

If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit defeat and leave. Yes, cut and run. Just as Reagan did from Beirut. Just as Nixon did from Vietnam. Just as Clinton did from Somalia. When your bombings make Taliban converts out of the civilians whose loyalty you want to win, your troops' presence become recruitment drives for the most militant elements in the Muslim world, and your eight year old-installed 'democratic' government cannot rule anything outside of a few streets with ripped off elections, it is a sign. It is a sign of failure. That is the difference between empirical reality and ideology.

Fortunately, there is at least one government official willing to publicly admit to all of this. Sadly, Matthew Hoh is an international news story because he is the only one, to date, to state what all of us have been able to see for the past several years. Here is to hoping there are more people like him in our government, who can prevent the Afghan 'surge' from wrecking this country even more than it already is, and hopefully, just hopefully, get us to honestly debate why in the world we are still in Afghanistan after all this time--and why we should consider the option of getting out.

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