Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Failing Afghanistan again

Anyone who's paid attention to the travails of the noble people of Afghanistan will not be surprised by today's New York Times report, by the indefatigable Carlotta Gall, of the Taliban's resurgence in that beleaguered nation. Of course, that would be a mere handful of Americans, since no one seems to care about the fate of the Afghans, who could be arguably credited with having ended the Cold War.

From Carlotta Gall's report:

In one of the most serious developments, some 200 Taliban have moved into the district of Panjwai, only a 20-minute drive from the capital of the south, Kandahar, Mr. Karzai's home city. The police and coalition forces clashed with them two weeks ago, yet the Taliban returned, walking in the villages openly with their weapons, and sitting under the trees eating mulberries, according to a resident of the district.

The resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said the Taliban had been demanding food, lodging and the Muslim tithing, zakat, from villagers. Their brazenness and the failure of the United States-led coalition to deter them is turning public opinion about the effectiveness of the government.

[...]

Another man, Rahmatullah, told the general that his brother had been arrested by American forces and the raids and house searches had made the young men take to the hills to join the militants. "Release my brother and the tribal elders will persuade the young men to come back home and stop fighting," he said.

"The unemployment rate is very high and the people of Uruzgan are very poor," said Mullah Hamdullah, the elected head of the provincial council.
Your Webwench finds this set of developments the natural result of the Bush administration's unconscionable foreign policy -- and that includes its ostensible promotion of "democracy" around the world.

For several centuries, the Afghan people have been used as pawns in contests for empire by major powers. In the late 20th century, that took the form of a proxy war between the Soviet Union and the United States -- a war that laid the groundwork for the rise of the Taliban and the current crisis. If the American people truly wish to protect themselves from terrorism, they must learn this history.

When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the 1970s, the U.S. seized the opportunity to challenge that empire with the bodies of a foreign people. So it created, with the Pakistani intelligence operation, the madrassahs, or "religious" schools, in which Afghan jihadis were trained and indoctrinated. Afghan warriors were provided with weapons, such as shoulder-launched Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, courtesy of the U.S. and funneled through Pakistan's repressive military regime.

Now, don't get your cybertrix wrong -- she sees nothing wrong in supporting a besieged people against the aggression of a bloodthirsty empire. But the means by which this was done were often reprehensible, and when the Afghans succeeded in breaking the back of the Great Bear, the U.S. turned around and left them with nothing but a destroyed nation, lacking even the means to adequately feed its people. Our government did nothing to help them rebuild, and instead left the rubble strewn with tactical weapons for competing warlords to turn on each other and anyone who got in the way. Meanwhile, Reagan and Bush père took credit for the demise of the Soviet Union. Nice goin', fellas.

In the wake of 911, the Afghans again find themselves similarly screwed. A corrupt, ostensibly democratic, government has been installed in Kabul, while the Taliban run wild in the countryside. Instead of rebuilding and supporting economic development on the needed scale, the U.S. has turned its face from Afghanistan's woes in its terrorist-creating adventure in Iraq.

And our biggest woe is stated as the high price of oil. Big whup.

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