Success in Afghanistan?
By Staff News & Analysis - December 23, 2010

Afghan Taliban leadership splintered by intense US military campaign … Locals say insurgent commanders have fled areas they used to control in Kandahar as Nato forces bolster operations … The US military onslaught against the Taliban in Kandahar has dealt a major blow against insurgent commanders who have been forced to flee areas they used to control and reduced two of the most senior insurgent field commanders to squabbling over footsoldiers, residents in the critically important southern province say. Tribal elders and ordinary villagers living at the centre of Barack Obama's (left) military surge in and around Kandahar city say it has severely damaged the Taliban's capability … Local people say that, cut off from their leaders, local Taliban have shied away from fighting. – UK Guardian

Dominant Social Theme: The surge has made all the difference.

Free-Market Analysis: This article excerpted above from the UK Guardian paints a positive picture of the "surge" in Western troops that is allowing NATO and the Americans to break the back of the Taliban insurgency. Truly, this would be a startling occurrence and one that would speak well of the wise men of the Pentagon and their analysis of the Afghan war. But we are not so sure if this is the whole truth. In this article we will continue to investigate the war – as we have in numerous articles in the past – to see if the perspective provided by the Guardian holds up.

Why is the war in Afghanistan important? From our point of view it is a war of conquest in which the Anglo-American axis is trying to gain control of a part of the world where it has none. Specifically, the war has been aimed at the stiff-necked Pashtuns that held off the British over 100 years ago. The war is one of societal domination, aimed at bringing the Pashtuns and other tribal people into the 21st century.

There is plenty of reporting that seems to indicate that the Pashtun – from where the Taliban are mostly drawn – are not especially enthusiastic about being tugged into the 21st century. Not only that, but the Afghan army is taken primarily from non-Pashtun ethnicities. To make the argument, as the Guardian article does, that the Afghan-Pashtuns are happy about an army full of non-Pashtun Afghans seems a bit off the mark. Finally, as the article itself acknowledges, the Taliban Pashtuns never fight especially hard during the winter. Thus, the idea that the Taliban is being decimated – and this is the reason for the declining resistance – may not be entirely accurate.

If the Taliban actually were being decimated, following them to safe-havens in Pakistan might not be a worthwile gambit. These reports, which seem at the least to be a trial balloon, are more indicative of a war that needs to be expanded for purposes of efficiency. Yet we are told that the war is succeeding as is. In fact, chasing the Taliban into Pakistan is a bad idea because it will only further inflame Pakistan. While the Pakistan regime may be willing to work with NATO and America, the same probably cannot be said of Pakistani citizens. Polls show that the Punjabis are no more welcoming of the Western alliance than the Pashtuns are at this point. Further aggression might well lead to further destabilization.

There is a fundamental flaw in the reporting regarding these Pashtun-Pakistani havens; they are not havens in the sense that the Pashtuns – all 40 million of them – do not necessarily accept nor even recognize the boundaries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pashtun nation sits astraddle both Afghanistan and Pakistan and to treat the Northern part of the Pashtun nation as a haven that should be "cleaned out" imples that the Pashtuns in this region are merely squatters that can be removed with the application of some military force.

In fact, the Pashtuns have occupied these lands apparently for millennia. The issue is one the Pakistanis grapple with as well. The US wants Pakistan to "clean out the safe-havens" in Pakistan, but again these are not safe-havens to the Pashtuns; they are ancient Pashtun lands. For the Pakistani army to attack these lands in strength would probably be seen as something of a declaration of war on the Pashtun people. This would leave Pakistani military leaders in a position where they are fighting the very forces they need to secure Afghanistan against threats they perceive as coming from India.

The following article (excerpted) via CNN is more along lines that make sense to us. It is written by Patrick Doherty, director of Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation in Washington. (We just mentioned this think-tank yesterday in our article "End of Military-Industrial Hegemony?") Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

Rethink 'fight then talk' in Afghanistan … Afghan strategy hasn't worked; government mistrusted and corrupt … A bold economic, political initiative can counter Taliban influence … Despite tangible military progress in Afghanistan in recent months, the success of the Obama administration's strategy for Afghanistan will be determined by the measure of political and economic progress it brings.

For the last two years, American strategy in Afghanistan has followed the framework of "fight then talk." Under this thinking, the Taliban needed to be weakened before negotiations would begin. This has not worked in large part because the Afghan state does not inspire the allegiance of the Afghan people. On the contrary, it is wracked by significant corruption, popular mistrust, and a distinct lack of capacity – offering insufficient contrast with the Taliban.

… Now is the time to pivot the strategy to "fight, build and talk." Security for the Afghans is still absolutely necessary. But at the same time, we must work with our partners to devise and put into play a viable political and economic agenda for the country. For our mission to succeed, Afghans must be willing to fight for a future they believe in and can trust.

This is much closer to the mark. A strategy of fighting and talking holds out more hope than one that is focused merely on selective violence. However, our perspective, presented many times, is that this remains a war between the West and a large, stubborn, tribal entity. So long as the West cannot attack the Pashtuns in Pakistan or present the Pashtuns with a central government they consider valid, talking will not end the fighting, though it will be an improvement over "just fighting."

The Pashtuns have outlasted numerous attackers and will probably outlast this Western gambit as well. Afghanistan is Pashtun land, and thus they can be patient – and have been so for millennia. The non-Pashtun civil and military authorities being constructed now merely add to the likelihood that Afghanistan will eventually be engulfed in a kind of civil war – or a de facto partitioning, whether or not the West stays to witness it.

This perspective is born out by a recent article in the Times of India by former US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill. In an article entitled "Plan B for Afghanistan," he writes that, "Partition offers the Obama administration the best available alternative to strategic defeat. Concurrently, Washington should accept that the Taliban will inevitably control most of the Pashtun south and east and that the price of forestalling that outcome is far too high for Americans to continue paying … [The US should] deploy US air power an Special Forces to ensure that the north and west of Afghanistan do not succumb to the Taliban."

Updated on date of publication.

After Thoughts

We would arge that Blackwill is predicting the natural outcome of the war, which will repeat the previous century's pattern, where the British and Pashtun deadlocked. The difference is that the Anglosphere has more riding on this war, because Afghanistan stands in the way of a closer international union. A stalemate in Afghanistan is a defeat for globalism, which is why NATO and the Anglo-American elite have resisted it. Eventually, however, the "facts on the ground" shall dictate the outcome, whatever that shall be.

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