Showing posts with label Taliban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taliban. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

The US Is Making A Major Mistake In Afghanistan

The US going in as a response to the 9/11 attacks that were orchestrated by the Al Qaeda who were hosted by the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan can make some sense, although it must be noted the Taliban kept asking for "proof." The US did have proof. The Al Qaeda did not keep the Taliban in confidence before the 9/11 attacks. They maintained utmost secrecy for understandable logistical reasons. The word might have leaked out. The operation might have failed.

The Taliban said, give us proof Bin Laden did it, and we will hand him over to you. The US refused. That was hubris. That was arrogance. That was not the democratic spirit. That was the attitude of an empire. The US could have privately provided proof while keeping the military option open all along.

At one point Condi Rice said, "Iraq is not Iran." The Taliban and the Al Qaeda are two separate organizations.

Afghanistan was a country like Nepal before the two superpowers took turns going in. Expats (the term for white immigrants) would write glowingly about the wonderful hospitality of the Afghan people, like they still say about the people in Nepal.

The right response would have been for the US to give the proof it had, privately, and then ask the Taliban to deliver. The Taliban did have the option to deliver Bin Laden at that point. They knew exactly where he was. They controlled the territory all around Bin Laden. They controlled the ground on which Bin Laden stood.

But the US figured, why waste a chance to make a movie out of the situation? Zero Dark Thirty.

After the US did go in, not long after the Taliban offered to surrender. The US refused the offer. That is mystifying to me. A puny military power under massive attack by an uncomparably larger military power offered to surrender. Why not take that surrender?

The corruption money from the military misadventure in Afghanistan is buying houses all across the US right now to park the money. That is why. The trillions wasted in Afghanistan could have paid to solve every "intractable" social problem America has. It could have ended homelessness. It could have rebuilt every public school. It could have rebuilt the country's infrastructure. But instead an average person can't even buy a house in America today.

And the corrupt Afghans who ran the puppet regime for the US took their money to Dubai. Cashloads of helicopters would land in Kabul and then, an hour later, fly off to Dubai.

The US did not stay a long time to win the war in Afghanistan. It won the war within weeks of going in.

I see no serious efforts of democracy building in Afghanistan. Plenty of outrageously expensive efforts yes, but no serious efforts. You can not build democracy in a country where you will not listen to the local population.

Finally the US gave up. It threw its hands in the air and walked out. Fine. Sometimes you cut your losses and move.

Except now the strategy seems to be to starve the population into revolting against the Taliban. Give me a break. You want starving Afghans to do what well-fed, well-trained, well-armed, well-financed Americans were not able to do?

The US needs to release Afghan funds that can feed the hungry Afghans. Maybe some sort of a deal can be cut that will allow for funds to be released for specified humanitarian purposes.

America did not go into Afghanistan to build democracy. It went in to get Bin Laden who it could have had by engaging the Taliban in dialogue. And offering the proof that it had that the Taliban asked for.

And it stayed long after Bin Laden was killed.

Several trillion dollars later, hundreds of thousands of lives later, when you have nothing to show for it, it is a shame.

It would have been better for the US to stay one more year, or two more years than to do what it is doing now. This economic strangulation is punishing a people who did not put the Taliban into power. The US did. This is wrong.

Facing Economic Collapse, Afghanistan Is Gripped by Starvation An estimated 22.8 million people — more than half the country’s population — are expected to face potentially life-threatening food insecurity this winter. Many are already on the brink of catastrophe. ....... Nearly four months since the Taliban seized power, Afghanistan is on the brink of a mass starvation that aid groups say threatens to kill a million children this winter — a toll that would dwarf the total number of Afghan civilians estimated to have been killed as a direct result of the war over the past 20 years. .......... While Afghanistan has suffered from malnutrition for decades, the country’s hunger crisis has drastically worsened in recent months. This winter, an estimated 22.8 million people — more than half the population — are expected to face potentially life-threatening levels of food insecurity, according to an analysis by the United Nations World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization. Of those, 8.7 million people are nearing famine — the worst stage of a food crisis. ......... Such widespread hunger is the most devastating sign of the economic crash that has crippled Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power.

Practically overnight, billions of dollars in foreign aid that propped up the previous Western-backed government vanished and U.S. sanctions on the Taliban isolated the country from the global financial system, paralyzing Afghan banks and impeding relief work by humanitarian organizations.

....... Across the country, millions of Afghans — from day laborers to doctors and teachers — have gone months without steady or any incomes. The prices of food and other basic goods have soared beyond the reach of many families. Emaciated children and anemic mothers have flooded into the malnutrition wards of hospitals, many of those facilities bereft of medical supplies that donor aid once provided. ...... Now, as freezing winter weather sets in, with humanitarian organizations warning that

a million children could die, the crisis is potentially damning to both the new Taliban government and to the United States, which is facing mounting pressure to ease the economic restrictions that are worsening the crisis.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Imran's Peace Gamble In Afghanistan

The Taliban of Afghanistan remind me of the Maoists of Nepal. At their peak right before they entered the peace process, the Maoists held sway over 80% of the territory in Nepal. That does not mean they were ruling 80% of the country. But they had managed to drive out the state's presence in 80% of the country, which was meager in the first place. Right before the peace process the Maoists and the Nepal Army were at war. And a ceasefire was not an option. Because the seven political parties in Nepal were not in power. The king was.

And so the Maoists needed to declare a unilateral ceasefire. They had to then join an alliance with the political parties, who they had been targeting for years. Targeting in the Maoist language means killing.

So you declare a unilateral ceasefire with the Nepal Army who, by the way, never officially reciprocated. Then they form an alliance with the political parties. Together you wage a street movement in the capital city to drive the king out.

The six parties come to power. Then you come to power after you agree to put your army into cantonments. And you integrate the two armies and become a political party.

Fairly complex.

But I believe that is the formula also for Afghanistan.

Imran Khan is best positioned to deliver. I don't believe Donald Trump or Mike Pompeo understand the ground situation in Afghanistan. Terrorist bad, democracy good kind of language is not going to make headway. That is as much nuance as Bernie's Medicare For All.

The Taliban are a fighting force. And those fighters drawing salaries as soldiers in the Afghan Army would be a good way to get them out of the political equation. The nonfighters have to form a political party and be willing to contest elections. The elections could be for a constituent assembly to write a constitution for Afghanistan. Unless they agree to accept what is already in place. They might even emerge the largest party. If they do, they get to come to power. Two Maoists became Prime Ministers in Nepal. Why not?

I believe this is the way out.

Pakistan can not prosper unless there is peace in the neighborhood. The only person both the Taliban and the Afghan president are willing to talk to is Imran. The Americans just want to get the hell out. They just want reassurance that all hell will not break loose when they leave. A negotiated peace settlement will deliver that.

Imran Khan does not really need Donald Trump's involvement. Trump could be part of the final step in the process when Imran might be in a position to say, you can safely leave now.

In Nepal, there was this critical juncture right before the six parties (was it six or seven, I forget) and the Maoists formed an alliance. Some Maoists blew up a bus. That would have been an excellent reason for the six parties to walk away. But that walking away would have been a mistake. You have to understand, not all Maoists were happy. Many were feeling betrayed by their leadership. They were supposed to defeat the parties, not form an alliance with them. But walking away at that juncture would have been a bad idea.

Imran should tackle Afghanistan, then Kashmir, then Iran. Somewhere along the way, he should get the Nobel, but Greta first.

I was thinking perhaps Imran can not make moves between Iran and Saudi Arabia. But now I think he is in a very good position to do so. I think the Saudis overestimate the American willingness and ability to inflict military pain on Iran. The Americans primarily want to sell military hardware. They are not interested in actual war. If the Saudis want peace, they have to engage in direct talks with Iran, and perhaps Imran can mediate. Co-existence is the idea. Since finishing each other off is not an option.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Formula For Peace: Iran-Saudi-US, Taliban-US, India-Pakistan


Situation: War is not an option. An all-out attack by the US on Iran and an all-out counter-attack is unthinkable. For one, there would be a global Depression. It would be like the global economy had a heart attack. A seizure. Even when you are not talking, you are essentially "talking," you are signaling.

Interesting: The Saudis, the Iranians and the Americans all are on excellent terms with both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi. Both Modi and Imran should come together and help out Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the US.

Solution: Go back to the Obama nuclear deal and while you are at it, negotiate on all other outstanding matters. Give full engagement to Iran as a conclusion step. Maximum trade, maximum tourism.

Rationale: If you want democracy in Iran, you want to engage to the maximum. Trade also prevents war. If the Chinese and American supply chains were not such a spaghetti, we would already have seen a US-China hot war by now.


Situation: The Taliban and the Afghan government refuse to talk to each other, but both are willing to talk to Imran Khan.

Interesting: Both the Afghan government and the Taliban are eager to talk to Imran Khan. The Indian government is on good terms with the Afghan government.

Solution: Integrate the Afghan Army and the Taliban to create one unified army, like happened with the Maoists of Nepal and the Nepal Army in the mid 2000s.

Bottomline: The Taliban must agree to become a political party and contest elections in Afghanistan.


Situation: Indian Kashmir is under curfew for more than 50 days running now.

Interesting: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the US are all on excellent terms with both Imran Khan and Narendra Modi.

Solution: Let Pakistan and India recognize the Line Of Control as the final border between the two countries and compete with each other to install democracy and human rights in both Kashmirs. This formula of recognizing the LOC as the final border is also the solution to the India-China border dispute. They have the longest disputed border in the world.

Bottomline: The curfew in Kashmir must be lifted immediately.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Video: Christine Fair: Pakistan, the Taliban and Regional Security

Monday, October 09, 2017

Afghanistan, Pakistan

The key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan
Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back. ......... Mansour lives part time in Quetta, the New York Times reports, “in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders . . . have built homes.” His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan. ........ the insurgency against that government is shaped, aided and armed from across the border by one of the world’s most powerful armies. ...... It is fundamental, and unless it is confronted, the Taliban will never be defeated. It is an old adage that no counterinsurgency has ever succeeded when the rebels have had a haven. In this case, the rebels have a nuclear-armed sponsor. ....... Pakistan has mastered the art of pretending to help the United States while actually supporting its most deadly foes. ....... Omar has been dead for two years, while Pakistani officials have been facilitating “contacts” and “talks” with him. ..... young Pashtun jihadis schooled in radical Islam at Pakistani madrasas. (“Talib” means student.) ..... “Pakistan has always worried that the natural order of things would be for Afghanistan to come under the sway of India, the giant of the subcontinent. ....... see reality for what it is: “When you are lied to and you don’t respond, you are encouraging more lies.” ..... Pakistan is a time bomb. It ranks 43rd in the world in terms of its economy, according to the World Bank, but has the sixth-largest armed forces. It has the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, and the most opaque. It maintains close ties with some of the world’s most brutal terrorists. By some estimates, its military consumes 26 percent of all tax receipts, while the country has 5.5 million children who don’t attend school . As long as this military and its mind-set are unchecked and unreformed, the United States will face a strategic collapse as it withdraws its forces from the region.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Boots On The Ground?

My blog post on February 2: Boots On The Ground?

News today, February 11: Obama opens door to 'limited' ground combat operations against ISIS.
"If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland," Obama said. ........ Obama is offering to limit authorization to three years, extending to the next president the powers and the debate over renewal for what he envisions as a long-range battle.
These ISIS folks are not exactly people you have the option to invite to the debate table. The hard nosed truth is force is necessary. Terror attacks in Australia and Paris are all emanating from there. It is only a matter of time before something happens in the United States. They sure have the intention. These people would let go off a dirty bomb the first chance they got at any location of convenience.

The Al Qaeda never had territory. The Taliban had territory, and the Al Qaeda used it like a parasite. These guys are worse than the Al Qaeda, if that is possible, and they command a bigger territory than the Taliban, more strategic, and have robust revenue streams.

Waiting for them to strike when they have a clear intention to do so is like waiting for them to build up their capabilities. It does not take much to blow up one cafe, but the incident scares an entire nation.

The ISIS running a state is not something that can be tolerated.

The Middle East is not some problem that will simply go away if you will ignore it. And it is not an easy problem.

This is the right move by the president, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Sometimes you need boots on the ground to keep the peace. It is in his job description.

As to the details, I am no military expert. But it makes political sense to build a large coalition of countries. Because every democracy is a target. It makes sense to have a limited, well defined ground operation where you try and work with local allies. The ISIS offends pretty much everybody in that neighborhood. Air power would play the decisive role. Intelligence would play a big role. But there is no avoiding firefights. That is the sad truth.

I still think beaming internet from the sky and flooding the land with cheap Android phones is the best way to make progress in that part of the world. You want hundreds of millions of Muslims sharing cat videos. That is cheaper, better, and it minimizes the violence.

Obama seeks sweeping Isis authority amid infighting over open-ended war
Obama Sends Letter to Congress Seeking Authorization of ISIS Fight

Monday, February 02, 2015

Boots On The Ground?

If ISIS is going to target "soft" targets anywhere and everywhere, I think the western powers might be forced to think in terms of boots on the ground. We might be about to enter a bloody, violent, expensive phase of the War On Terror. There is obviously no easy way out. Bush II stands validated a little.

If the Taliban in power in Afghanistan is a no no, why is ISIS in power anywhere an option, right? ISIS commands a territory, it commands major revenue streams. It has a global reach the likes of which the Taliban or the Al Qaeda never did. And its intentions are clear and apocalyptic.

But even the boots on the ground idea could come with major aerial moves. It does not have to be a major operation like Bush II going into Iraq. I don't know. I am no military expert.