The change in command, Obama made clear Wednesday, is a change in personnel, not in a policy that's hampered by, among other things, the absence of a political strategy, rising U.S. casualties, growing ethnic tensions, endemic political corruption, the administration's July 2011 deadline for beginning a troop withdrawal and a stalled offensive in the country's second-largest city. … However, whatever comity General Petraeus (left) brings – with his stature as the counterinsurgency general who saved the war in Iraq and his political savvy – is likely to be tested by disagreements over policy and personnel, some of which McChrystal and his aides vented about in their exit interview with Rolling Stone magazine. As McClatchy reported earlier this month, a number of U.S. and allied military, intelligence and diplomatic officials have been warning for months that the American strategy in Afghanistan is failing and complaining that no one at a high level in the Obama administration wants to hear their discouraging words. – Yahoo
Dominant Social Theme: Petraeus to the rescue.
Free-Market Analysis: Will it be OK now that McChrystal has been replaced by Petraeus? Will the war be won by the determined Anglo-Saxon axis? We're not sure. But we are aware of course, that the effort is not only determined, it is one of great sophistication as well. We know this because we are told over and over that the CIA runs both sides of the war – helping harvest poppy crops (along with Marines) in order to provide funding as necessary.
Yes, this is increasingly reported with requisite eagerness and cynicism by both the mainstream and alternative media. True or not, some reporters simply cannot fathom the idea that the US military-industrial complex, and the Anglo-American axis generally, is not in control of a given situation. The US always wins, of course, except when it chooses to lose.
It makes sense in a strange way. It is a dominant social theme – one of overweaning control. The "Anglo-American-Zionist" power trilogy is in control of all, you see. There can be no recovery from this state of affairs, and no real way out. Beloved, especially, by numerous "alternative news" websites the mysterious "Illuminati" makes its appearance and is presented as an entity in charge of everything. There is nothing anyone can do to change the West's depressive and authoritarian course. If the government doesn't get you, the secret society will.
It is perhaps a meme intended to sap one of the will to take human action. In fact, many of these web sites are in our estimation controlled at least in part by Anglo-American intel, which has a vested interest in commingling fact with fiction, flying saucers with proper Austrian economics, alien invasions with legitimate government coverups.
The Afghan war is an example of such confusing messages. Over and over now, we read that the real reasons for the war in Afghanistan have to do with drugs, oil and exhausting the Western middle class with another failed war. The most cynical of articles therefore seem to imply that the implacable West could have its way with Afghanistan at a moment's notice, and that the only reason the opposition hasn't collapsed is because the West (there's the CIA, again) is determined to prop it up.
We find such notions to be questionable, even patronizing. We've watched the CIA in action and while they are probably a most competent and malevolent enterprise, we're not sure we would ascribe the total control to them that others seem to. Sure, they may be neck deep in drugs and "black ops." But every time we examine the war we come to the same conclusions: There is significant opposition to the Afghan Anglo-American invasion. It is real. It exists. It is being generated by one of the oldest tribes in the world – The Pashtuns, some 40 million strong, straddling the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
The tribe has been there, one way or another for something like 5,000 years, in some retellings and its history, and the mountains supporting the tribe, are littered with old monuments that show Hindu and Buddhist religious influences long before the current Muslim faith took hold. It is the terrain that gives rise to the ability of the Pashtuns to resist outside aggression. Not a warlike people, necessarily, they are obviously determined resistors.
Here is a little poem written by the Pashtun chronicler Ghani Khan:
The great potmaker of fate was sitting in heaven.
This great potter of fate was making a donkey,
when the order came to make a Khan [Pashtun].
So the potter cut off its tail and sculpted its ears,
on its forehead he put a spot of temper
and in the donkeys brain he put the disease
of being ahead of everyone, being a leader, and
then he put a beautiful turban on his head and
shooed him towards the world.
Ghani Khan, despite poetry that doesn't translate well, is actually a great Pashtun writer, and someone who created a compelling portrait of a tribal society unlike almost any other. And in fact if one could create a society guaranteed to antagonize the Anglo-American elite, this would be the one. Elements of Pashtun society did not only prove irritating to European society, they were repugnant enough for the British to launch some 50-plus invasions of the Pashtuns between 1850 and 1900, all of which were repelled.
Here is Khan's description of a young Pashtun warrior:
Let us go to his valley in Dir. There he is – walking towards us, of medium height and sensitive build. He has long locks, neatly oiled and combed, wrapped in a red silk, kerchief, which is twisted round the head like the crown of I Caesar. He wears a flower in his hair and collyrium in his eye. His lips are dyed red with walnut bark. He carries his sitar in his hand and his rifle at his shoulder. You would think he is very effeminate until you looked at his eyes. They are clear, manly and bold. They do not know fear, and won't live long enough to know death. He pays the most lavish price for these made up eyes and painted lips. This son of the bravest tribe of the Pathans never takes cover in a fight and always laughs and sings when he is frightened. He will soon die fighting, a man as brave and strong and hand some as he, for he knows only how to love and laugh and fight and nothing else. He is taught nothing else.
And what of Pashtun culture? Here's Khan again:
In the tribal area where nearly four million people live without law courts, policemen, judges and hangmen, you seldom hear of adultery or murder. Elopements are rare. For the risk is great and the price heavy for rare lips and beautiful eyes. If the culprits get married, the hunt is slackened; the boy is made to pay damages in the form of giving away two or three girls to the family from which he stole one. But he won't live long if he deceives her or deserts her. The whole tribe of the girl will hunt him down and his own will refuse to protect him. Custom does not allow protection to the breakers of custom. He stands alone and must pay the price. Even his friends will avoid the funeral. It is hard and brutal, but it works. After all you cannot use a dog leash to tame a wolf. …
The Pathan has thousands of customs – for death, birth, marriage, love, hate and war. To try to count them or even to attempt a very sketchy portrait of their purpose and function is impossible. They are neither good nor bad, for they depend on time, place and circumstance. But this can be said about all of them, that they are an attempt to hold and preserve a standard of value and way of life that has given the world a great fighter and a poor soldier. For many of the customs of the Pathans are older than their Greek soldier-fathers.
Obviously, this is a variant of common law – of the kind that the Bell has discussed on numerous occasions. Before justice was rationalized in the West by juries, by supreme courts, by judges, defence attorneys and state prosecutors, by endless rules, regulations and the requisite tools and strategies for enforcement thereof – tazers, beat-downs, break-ins and mass imprisonment – there was cultural justice, mostly familial and codified by social customs and traditions. There was little crime because there were few criminals. People took care of their own – and the culture repelled a criminal element because those within society were well known to each other.
Were such tribal societies repressive, violent on occasion and certainly rural/agrarian? Probably so. But one asks is the current Western models, with their endless ruination and consolidations, scientific superstitions and ongoing regulatory, monetary and fiscal repression are so much better. (Or it they are, have they not lost nearly as much as they have gained?) Certainly the Anglo-American axis has institutionally abhorred the Pashtuns for at least two centuries. Afghanistan, in Western retellings, is a sink of impoverishment, superstition and ignorant violence.
Now that General Petraeus has taken charge of the war effort, perhaps the campaigns will go better for the West. Perhaps Petraeus and the Marines and NATO generally will win the battle for the hearts and minds of the Pashtuns. We think this is a long chance, since Pashtun hearts and minds go back 5,000 years, but, hey, what do we know? And perhaps, in fact, the war is merely a drawn-out facade run by the CIA with all-important drug money. And maybe it's not about finally drawing the Pashtun era to a close (something the British have been after for 200 years) but about oil pipelines and mineral wealth. Nonetheless, empires have foundered in Afghanistan in the past, and perhaps the war is not a foregone conclusion after all. Even the CIA should know that.