News & Analysis
Serious Questions About Afghan War
U.S. author calls Afghanistan war "pointless" ... The United States should pull its troops out of Afghanistan because the war cannot be won and neighboring Pakistan is funding the Taliban to undermine U.S. interests, the author of a new book says. Journalist and veteran Afghanistan expert Jere Van Dyk is intimate with the war-torn country, after spending 45 harrowing days in 2008 jailed there and terrified he would be killed. His new book "Captive, My Time As A Prisoner Of The Taliban," published by Henry Holt's Times Books imprint, recounts his experience. His captivity gave him plenty of time to think about prospects for the military struggle in Afghanistan, where the United States has been bogged down in a messy war since 2001. "They (the Taliban) will never give in," Van Dyk told Reuters in an interview, adding, "There is fundamentally no difference between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban – they are all deep down Pashtuns." The Pashtuns live in a series of tribal regions that lie along the mountainous border of Pakistan and Afghanistan ...Van Dyk said Pakistani military sources told him their goal was to use U.S. money to support the Taliban and help them take back Afghanistan, thus spreading Pakistan's sphere of influence and distracting the Taliban from fighting in Pakistan itself. – Reuters
Dominant Social Theme: Well ... Hm-mm.
Free-Market Analysis: It is hard, in fact, to write a dominant social theme that includes this book because we don't think this book is part of a power-elite promotion. We don't think this guy went and put himself into an Afghan jail just to increase his credibility. No, we think it is something of a cri de coeur, a cry from the heart. Of course we would like to think that because the points this author is making are EXACTLY the points that we have made in the Bell for the past several years.
We were in fact, almost flabbergasted by this Reuters profile of the author and his book. It is a point-by-point recitation of what we have come to believe. Despite all the Pakistani and US manipulation of this strange, warlike, Afghan tribe called the Pashtuns, the Afghan war is a fairly simple thing. The Anglo-American axis, using 9/11 as a pretext, has generated a kind of 21st century Crusade against the Middle East Muslim world. The Pashtuns are the thin, Islamic wedge resisting the intrusion of the West. It is indeed a kind of religious war, but it is being waged for purposes of wealth and power.
The strategy, as we have pointed out before, is hammer-and-tongs. The hammer is the blunt force of arms. The tongs, perhaps, are the funny little Arab Emirates that are forging a hybrid of Western and Muslim cultures to form a kind of neo-Muslim capitalism. This approach, which blends force of arms with the persuasions of wealth, is intended enlighten the larger Muslim world. What is supposed to emerge is a denatured Muslim religion, one that has the form of what came before but not the substance. Here are some articles we have written on the subject:
The West, especially the Anglo-American West is simply not being told the truth about the Afghanistan war. The Taliban is rarely explained and the reasons for continued ferocious existence is explained away, so far as we can tell, as the madness of terrorism. But the war is going on for 10 years now, and we cannot imagine a regime carrying on a fight that long without an integral and forceful belief structure.
In fact, the Pashtuns have a culture that is thousands of years old, a critical mass (there being 40 million of them) and the blessings of a vicious topography that is resistant to even the most technologically adept fighting forces. They also have access to a good deal of resources. Recently, it has apparently emerged that Pakistan itself is playing a double game with Washington, secretly funding and helping the Taliban even as it seems to be fighting against the Pakistan Taliban. Here's some more from the article about Van Dyk:
"It is a completely pointless war," he said, adding that Washington should send significant aid to assist rebuilding Afghanistan. Van Dyk is a consultant on Afghanistan, Pakistan and al Qaeda for CBS News. After writing his first book on Afghanistan, he worked in the 1980s as a consultant to the State Department and was director of Friends of Afghanistan, a nonprofit which pushed for U.S. support for the mujahideen fight against the Soviets ...
Drawing on his contacts from the 1980s, some who are now Taliban leaders, he thought he would explore the Pashtun region and report on the state of the Taliban and al Qaeda there. But as the book's title makes clear, things went badly and he was taken hostage by the Taliban. "The Taliban commander led me to believe I could be killed at any moment. It was a roller coaster," Van Dyk said.
Despite his fears, over the month and a half his captors never beat him but instead often engaged him in debates about politics and religion. "Sometimes we laughed," he said. Two years later, Van Dyk says he has no idea why he was held or ultimately released -- perhaps it was for ransom or a prisoner exchange or because he was mistaken for a U.S. spy or his captors used him in a dispute with another faction. He says he still receives threatening phone calls from Afghanistan and has some fears for his safety.
The book apparently gets at the heart of Pakistan's role in this latest Great Game, pointing out that Pakistan's efforts at supporting the Taliban are in part aimed at making sure that the Pashtuns do not begin to agitate for their own state, one which would actually comprise a large chunk of Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. By aiming Pashtun governmental ambitions at Afghanistan (and thus making Afghanistan the putative state of the Pashtuns) Pakistani leaders are attempting to ensure their own territorial integrity.
This book in our opinion is very timely. Just recently there have been more reports of how American and CIA money is funding both sides of the Afghan war effort. Many of these reports are accepted at face value by the leftist press, especially. The result is a spate of seemingly credible articles that point out that the Afghan war is just like any other Western war, one where Western intel operations play one side against the other and the military industrial complex profits according.
We have never believed this about the Afghan war. We have never believed the West is fighting in Afghanistan for oil, or pipelines or minerals. These are secondary issues. The Afghan war is part of a larger, fundamental clash of cultures. In that sense, we would tend to believe it is one of the more important modern wars ever fought. In fact, that is why it is STILL being fought. To maintain that the Anglo-American alliance does not want to win the Afghan war – only to extend it for profit – beggars common sense.
As an aside, we are also aware that Van Dyk writes for the mainstream press and that despite our agreement with his thesis, there are those that would be skeptical of his message simply because of his background. But in this case, we think the message is fairly straight-foward. The Anglo-American elite that stands behind these serial wars may want to "keep the pot boiling" but that doesn't mean that it wishes to lose.
No, it should be obvious to anyone who watches closely that the West remains hotly engaged in a war against 40 million Pashtuns and to a greater or lesser degree hundreds of millions of Pakistanis. It is actually a regional war that pits Pakistan against India as well as the Taliban against the current Afghan central government. The reality is clearly that the West wishes to extend and cement its control over the Middle East via military power. Even the upcoming war with Iran, if it comes to that, may be seen as an extension of this unstated but obvious policy.
Conclusion: We have often pointed out that that the West's strategy of winning the hearts and minds of Pashtuns is a difficult one given that the Taliban is a Pashtun entity. But we ask another question as well: How can the Taliban and Pashtuns be defeated when they have the tacit backing of much larger Pakistan? This is a huge chunk of real-estate with a citizenry not especially well-disposed to the US or the larger West. From our point of view, Van Dyke seems to raise the right questions and provide thoughtful answers.
Posted by Martin on 06/24/10 08:02 PM
I think the "Anglo-American Empire" does want to spread the war.
Look at the Sabre-rattling with Iran. If you doubt this, read one of the "Elites" foremost intellectuals and spokespersons Zbigniew Brzezinski's book, the "Grand Chessboard".
Just a small excerpt:
"How America 'manages' Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa's subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world's central continent. About 75 per cent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources." (p.31)
"Never before has a populist democracy attained international supremacy. But the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion, except in conditions of a sudden threat or challenge to the public's sense of domestic well-being. The economic self-denial (that is, defense spending) and the human sacrifice (casualties, even among professional soldiers) required in the effort are uncongenial to democratic instincts. Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization." (p.35)
"The momentum of Asia's economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea." (p.125)
"In the long run, global politics are bound to become increasingly uncongenial to the concentration of hegemonic power in the hands of a single state. Hence, America is not only the first, as well as the only, truly global superpower, but it is also likely to be the very last." (p.209)
Spoken like a true disciple of the New Empire.
Posted by Martin on 06/24/10 06:21 PM
I agree with most of the above. The Power Elite as you call them want noting less than a global socialist empire " run by them. They then mean to exterminate at least 80% of the population. If you think this is just about money, you're mistaken. They have all the money in the world " especially after the Banker bailouts. It is now time for the Endgame. Click to view link
This is not a plug " just info to back my claim.
Posted by John Treichler From The Banning Bunker. on 06/23/10 05:32 PM
Of interest in this discussion of America's Afgan war is the larger picture provided by F. William Engdahl four part article "Kyrgyzstan's Roza Revolution" wherein in Part 4 Engdahl discusses his findings of US involvement in drug trade as a vehicle to economically influence and control Central Asia, together with Machiavellian covert funding of all sides to keep the pot boiling. Even Russia that allows the Northern Supply Route to the Afgan war is seriously Pi$$ed with the US over heroin trade into Russia. Be sure to read Part 4. [I'm having trouble finding Part 4 posted anywhere, only 1-3. Interesting ... :]. Good Link to article: Click to view link.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Click to view link"roza-revolution'-cui-bono-part-4-washington-and-the-kyrgyz-future"securing-the-pivot/
We do not agree that the elite is manufacturing a failed war only to spread it. We do not agree that war is about heroin (neither does F. William Engdahl actually). We believe there is a Pashtun opposition that must be overcome. We believe that the powers-that-be are likely having a good deal of difficulty overcoming the Pashtuns, and that they are indeed trying to do so.
Why does Engdahl believe that the Anglo-American axis wants to spread the war throughout central Asia? This would doubtless necessitate a draft and end up with the same kind of civil insurrection that was seen back in the 1960s in America and Europe. Engdahl provides an analysis that entirely discounts domestic opposition to what is going on currently. He thinks apparently it can expand infinitely. It can't. Empires over-reach. Even Rome declared a boundary.
Posted by Bill Ross on 06/23/10 11:53 AM
As a troubleshooter, several lifetimes ago, I was called in by management whenever programs were not achieving goals and, in fact had become money pits.
Then, as now, with this topic, there was only one question: "cui bono", how and why. In my case, the solution was: fire those who were profiting from perpetually screwing up for a living.
Jere Van Dyk has asked and answered cui bono. The question is: how to fire those who claim a monopoly on force, targeting all dissenters.
Our far wiser ancestors answered: Rule of Law:
Click to view link
Posted by John Acord on 06/23/10 08:15 AM
RM Gedden is on point. The travails of the 20th and 21st century are principally caused by the idiotic preservation of the maps drawn by colonial powers. Whether Irish, Basque, Serb, Scot, Croatian, Pashtun, Han, culture, ethnicity, religion and race count. No nation, including the US, can survive when the natural order is suppressed. The Romans recognized this, it was their secret to empire: pay homage to Caesar and remit your taxes. We all need to read and understand our history before brazenly creating nations from polyglot races.
Posted by R M'Geddon on 06/23/10 06:39 AM
The fact that during his month and a half-long captivity, Jere Van Dyk's captors never beat him but instead often engaged him in debates about politics & religion, & sometimes laughed with him, says it all.
The Pashtun Taliban have been branded as uncivilised murderers & international bandits " ie terrorists. Instead they are humans like you & I, wanting what we want " our own nation, & not having to be subsumed into the politics of a bigger country (ie Pakistan), or the ethnically mixed state of Afghanistan.
No one since the 19th century has allowed the Pashtun to rule themselves alone in their own country. Always they have been incorporated into an artificial country with peoples from different tribes &/or ethnicities " whether it is Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hezzaras, Punjabis, or Baluchis etc.
But Pakistan doesn't want this because it would lose a sizeable chunk of its western Pakistani territory. And Afghan President Karzai doesn't want it while he is able to enrich himself out of Afghanistan as it is while Western forces spill their blood to preserve a situation that allows him to enrich himself.
It's time now for the boil to be lanced, & that means a Pashtun state, while the remaining Afghan ethnic groups (who are noticeably more placid & attuned to the modern world than the Pashtuns) retain the remainder (which would in fact be a large part) of present-day Afghanistan.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Don't think it will happen.