|Written by Chris Floyd|
The Obama administration has decided that blood and iron, not hearts and minds, will be the new focus of the American military adventure in Afghanistan. Top Obama officials – anonymous, natch -- used the front page of the New York Times as a conduit for conveying the imperial will to the rabble this week. The basic strategy, it seems, will be the same one that professional nudnik Glenn Reynolds once proposed for the recalcitrant tribes of the Middle East: "more rubble, less trouble."
But do let's be fair to Team Obama, which, as we all know, is motivated solely by the most humane and progressive motives. The NYT story makes clear that if Karzai -- supposedly the independent president of a sovereign nation -- grovels sufficiently to his new masters in Washington, they might keep him on for a bit longer:
Mr. Holbrooke is preparing to travel to the region, and administration officials said he would ask more of Mr. Karzai, particularly on fighting corruption, aides said, as part of what they described as a “more for more” approach.
They said that the Obama administration...would leave economic development and nation-building increasingly to European allies, so that American forces could focus on the fight against insurgents.
Our fight, in any case, wasn’t against the people of Afghanistan. To a certain extent, it wasn’t even against the Taliban, since it was al-Qaida, not the Taliban, that had attacked us. Some, including leaders of the Bush administration, were making the case that the Taliban was directly implicated in the attacks since it had provided al-Qaida with a safe haven to plan the events of 9/11. It had yet to be proved that the Taliban was a witting host, however. As a student of the region, I believed that the United States would do well to use tribal concepts of honor to isolate and disenfranchise bin Laden and his Arab outsiders from their Taliban host. If the United States, working through the offices of the Pakistani intelligence services, could convince the Taliban that its hospitality had been abused by al-Qaida—in that the murder of innocents had been committed while under its protection—then Afghan tribal custom and honor and, even more important to the fundamentalist Taliban, Islamic law, dictated that the Taliban revoke the protections and privileges afforded bin Laden and al-Qaida.
What happened, however, was the exact opposite. The diplomat rejected out of hand any sort of diplomacy, arguing that there were only extremists within the ranks of the Taliban. There was, in his opinion, no such thing as a moderate Taliban, and as such the United States had no choice but to lump the Taliban and al-Qaida into a singular target set, and initiate direct military action designed to remove the Taliban from power and destroy al-Qaida in Afghanistan. I responded by noting that it would not be an easy thing to separate the Taliban from Afghan society, since the Taliban was a product of Afghan society, and that any military action against the Taliban would only strengthen the bonds between it and al-Qaida, which was of course the last result the United States should be seeking. The diplomat rejected my argument as simplistic and unrealistic. He argued for a military solution, and, of course, that was the result the Bush administration delivered.
It is highly doubtful that Holbrooke will bring anything more to the table than cheerleading. President Obama’s stated intention to increase the size of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and to more forcefully assert U.S.-imposed “security” through continued military action in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan is a dangerous scheme, one Holbrooke will enthusiastically support. Reinforcing failure is never a sound solution. Take it from the veteran British military officers who have served in Afghanistan and now advise that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem. Listening to advice like that would go a long way toward developing stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan and neutralizing al-Qaida’s ability to organize and operate in those nations. The British recognize that the Taliban is not the problem, but rather part of the solution to what ails Afghanistan.
Source: Empire Burlesque