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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why negotiating with the Taliban is both stupid and immoral (UPDATED!)

There are increasing signs that the USraelian Empire is trying to negotiate some kind of deal with the Taliban including their chief, Mullah Omar. Some are rejoicing at this development seeing it as a way to finally get the US out of Afghanistan. I would agree with such optimistic hopes if the issue was only getting the US out of Afghanistan, but there is far more at stake here than that.

First, the term "Taliban" is somewhat vague and it is often used interchangeably with the term "Pashtun". Furthermore, "Taliban" is almost always assumed to be an movement specific to Afghanistan. The problem with that is that this use of these terms is that it obfuscates two very important realities: not all Pashtuns are Taliban and the Taliban themselves are not a purely Afghan force. Simply put: the Taliban movement is a creation and an outgrowth of Pakistani Wahabism which spread to Afghanistan by means of the Pashtun ethnic group which live on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border.

The Pashtuns are a *minority* in Afghanistan, about 40%, but they are still the single largest ethnic group (the second largest group, the Tadjiks, are only about 30% and the next largest groups are the Uzbeks and the Hazaras, both number something close to 10%). As I said, not all Pashtuns are Talibans, but even assuming that 100% of Pashtuns would support the Taliban, this still means that the Taliban do not represent the majority of the people of Afghanistan.

So why is the Empire trying to negotiate with the Taliban?

Simple: because their real power base is in Pakistan.

This is worth repeating again: the real power base of the Taliban is in Pakistan.

There are still a lot of myths about Reagan's "heroic freedom fighters" out there. Like the myth which says that the Mudjahideens booted the Soviets out of Afghanistan. That's nonsense. Consider this: after the Soviet withdrawal the in February 1989 it took the heroic freedom fighters three years (until April 1992!) to take Kabul following an extremely bloody civil war. It took the defection of the Uzbek general Dostum to make it possible for the anti-Najibullah forces to take Kabul. All these are undisputed facts. So then ask yourself a simple question: how could the Mudjahideens "boot out" the Soviets if they could not even take Kabul as long as Dostum was defending it? The answer is simple: the Soviets left because of the deep political crisis in the Soviet Union and not because of Reagan's "freedom fighters". Besides, as any Soviet who fought in Afghanistan will tell you, the Pashtuns are rather pitiful fighters which the Russians looked down upon. In contrast, the Russians had the deepest respect for the formidable Tadjik fighters of the late Ahmad Shah Masood (I remember how a former commander of the KGB Spetsnaz unit "Kaskad" told me that Masood's best men were "at least as good as our best guys" not only in terms of courage - which the Pashtuns also had - but in terms of actual combat skills).

Another myth about the Pashtuns is that the US military defeated the Taliban in 2001. This is not so. It was the Northern Alliance (Tadjiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and others) which defeated the Talibans on the ground while the US only provided them with (very valuable) support from the air and with FACs on the ground. Furthermore, the Taliban rapidly decided not to oppose the invasion and to withdraw to the countryside and mountains to wait for a better time. A lot of them, in fact, left for Pakistan.

Now this is crucial here: it was Pakistan which provided a safe heaven for the anti-Soviet resistance during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and it is arguably only this safe heaven which prevented the Soviets from truly crushing the Pashtun resistance (the Tadjiks in the Panshir Valley in the northeast of the country were the only ones who actually did successfully resist several Soviet attacks and did not seek cover across the border). Likewise, today's main problem for NATO is the Waziristan province of Pakistan were the Taliban and their Pakistani allies are hiding.

To sum up: the Afghan Pashtuns are nowhere near the formidable force which the media portrays them to be and their real power resides in the fact that they have found a safe heaven in Pakistan. I could add here that the almighty Pakistani secret service, the ISI, has, from day one, been the real Godfather of the anti-Soviet resistance and then of the Taliban movement, with US assistance, of course.

There is one inescapable conclusion from all this: negotiating with the "Taliban" really means negotiating with the Wahabis in Pakistan. This is not, repeat *not*, negotiating with the "Afghan people". I would even argue that negotiating with the Taliban is, in fact, negotiating with the worst enemies of the Afghan people.

I am sure that everybody remembers the kind of regime the Taliban had put into place after they took Kabul: from the banning of music and kites, to the constant executions of people for the smallest of crimes, to the ever present terror squads in the streets to the infamous destruction of the Buddhas in Bamyan - the Taliban were every bit as ugly, crazy and evil as the US propaganda painted them to be (yes, sometimes even the US propaganda can say the truth). And just as the US propaganda accused them to be, the Taliban were the closest and most dedicated allies of Osama Bin-Laden, al-Qaeda and the rest of the Wahabi crackpots worldwide.

But maybe it would be possible to negotiate some kind of deal by which those crazed Wahabis would keep to themselves and only turn Afghanistan into some hellish medieval nightmare but leave the rest of the world alone?

Forget it.

The Russians tried just that in Chechnya with the so-called Khasavyurt Agreement signed in 1996 only to have the Chechens actually invade Daghestan in 1999 forcing the Russians to go right back into Chechnya and to "finish the job" (although the bulk of the Chechen forces were rapidly defeated a low-scale insurrection is still active in Chechnya even today). You can safely count on the Taliban sooner or later doing something similar with Tajikistan, Iran, Indian controlled Kashmir or even China. But even if by some kind of newly found self-restraint the Taliban agreed to stay within the confines of "their" territory (Afghanistan and Pakistan) the nightmare would not stop. First, because all the non-Taliban in the region would fight for their survival and, second, because the risk of a nuclear armed Pakistan becoming "Talibanized" are all too real.

Still, one can recognize these risk and still favor an American withdrawal from Afghanistan since, after all, it is not any business of the USA to be the world's policeman and protect the continent from the Taliban. However, there is a logical fallacy here: withdrawing the US forces from Afghanistan does not entail negotiating with the Taliban. I, for one, would even argue that the best way to get the US out of Afghanistan would be to negotiate with all the regional forces opposed to the Taliban: Iran, Russia, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and, in a second phase, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China. That is the beauty of it: *all* the region's countries are firmly opposed to what the Taliban represent and *nobody* wants these crazies back in power.

Finally, there is another consideration which should prompt everybody to agree to a regional solution to this issue: the problem of "Afghanistan" is really the problem of *Pakistan*. And Pakistan is one hell of a problem indeed! After all, this is the only nuclear power in the world which is essentially in a constant state of civil war and nobody knows when or how this civil war will end. Even worse, there are at least two major powers which blindly support Pakistan for their own narrow interests: China tries to use Pakistan against India and the USA which tries to use Pakistan against Russia and Iran. These two countries are in many ways the prime culprits for the 'nuclear powder keg" which Pakistan has turned into. Is there a way to fix the mess these two have created?

I don't see any other solution than defeating the Wahabis in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. I don't believe that there is any possibility to negotiate anything with these guys, and I don't believe that they could somehow be isolated or otherwise contained. If history does teach us anything it is that there is no point in negotiating with crazed fanatics hell-bend on taking on the rest of the planet. Furthermore, I cannot conceive of anything more immoral than pretending to negotiate with "the Afghan people" while in reality handing over Afghanistan to a *minority* of crazed thugs.

Alas, the Empire in its disarray seems to be determined to do exactly that. True to its trademark policy of short-term "solutions" an attempt to negotiate some kind of deal with the Taliban is what we should expect next. In the minds of the Imperial High Command this would allow the Empire to partially relive (or extricate) its bogged down forces from Afghanistan while taking on step further along its new found anti-Shia grand strategy (the so-called "Redirection"). The only result from this kind of policy will be to force Russia and Iran to dramatically increase their support for the Tadjiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras while tensions between India and Pakistan will flare up. In short: these planned "negotiations" will achieve only one thing: to make a bad situation infinitely worse.

UPDATE: I just came across this very interesting story: it appears that the Pentagon is opposed to the idea of dealing with Mullah Omar. Petraeus had declared that "The key there is making sure that all of that is done in complete coordination, with complete support of the Afghan government and with President Karzai". Well, since Karzai is a long time US puppet and CIA agent we can take him out of this sentence and rephrase it like this: "The key there is making sure that all of that is done in complete coordination, with complete support of the Afghan government"; in other words - the folks from the Northern Alliance which hold all the important ministries in the "Afghan government" went apeshit at the idea of dealing with Omar and made the US back down from this crazy idea.

Good for them.

35 comments:

Tony Sayegh said...

"I don't see any other solution than defeating the Wahabis in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. I don't believe that there is any possibility to negotiate anything with these guys, and I don't believe that they could somehow be isolated or otherwise contained. If history does teach us anything it is that there is no point in negotiating with crazed fanatics hell-bend on taking on the rest of the planet....."

Well, well, well! You sure sound like George Bush in his early (not last) days. Way to go Saker!

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@tony: the point is hardly whether I sound like Bush or anyone else who might say the same thing, the point is whether that claim is wrong or right.

You think that negotiating with the Taliban is a sound policy? Fine. But dismissing all the arguments against it just because they "sound like" Dubya is hardly logical or intellectually honest (after all, I "sound like" anyone else - such as Putin - who had to deal with the Wahabis in the past).

The Americans have a saying which I like: even a broken clock is right once every 12 hours. Ditto for Dubya (I only wish his position was principled and not one of political expediency).

If tomorrow Dubya says that 2+2=4 I will read your refutation with great interest.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@tony: one more thing: since the US now favors negotiations with the Taliban I suppose that, by your own "logic", *YOU* "sound like" like Bush now.

And since I sound like Bush, and since you also sound like Bush, then I suppose you and I agree on everything...

See the kind of idiocy this type of "arguments" can lead to?

There is just no way "sounding like" can be part of an intelligent sentence...

Anonymous said...

Saker,

The U.S. is negotiating with the "Taliban" because they are the ones who are fighting. Weather they are great fighters or not, the fact is after 7 years they haven't given up and have not lost. They are managing without much foreign help. (imagine if they could shoot down 1 helicopter a month) I do not believe that the U.S. should stay until the Taliban are "defeated."

I'm not sure what America's aims are. Maybe they want to simply buy off a few factions and hope that it will make occupation easier. Maybe they anticipate financial collapse and figure they are going to have to leave anyway.

Be that as it may, I hardly expect the Taliban to invade the rest of the world. Like you said about the Russians, after the Americans leave, they will spend a few years trying to take Kabul. That's not good, but the region will survive.

Lysander said...

That last comment was mine

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@lysander: The U.S. is negotiating with the "Taliban" because they are the ones who are fighting. Weather they are great fighters or not, the fact is after 7 years they haven't given up and have not lost. They are managing without much foreign help. (imagine if they could shoot down 1 helicopter a month

I would note that they are getting plenty of help from Pakistan, not only from the crazies in Waziristan, but also from the Pashtuns in the Pakistani military and intelligence service.

Maybe they want to simply buy off a few factions and hope that it will make occupation easier

I think that is exactly what they are trying to do (buying off enemies is something of an Afghan tradition and something Americans are good at)

I hardly expect the Taliban to invade the rest of the world

Oh, I don't think these guys can invade anything even if they wanted to. So there is no risk for a worldwide caliphate of some kind. But can they heap misery on many other countries in the region? Sure thing! The Tadjiks, for example, had a very bad time trying to contain the Wahabis and only the deployment of the Russian 201st Motor Rifle Division in support of the joint Russian-Tadjik border forces managed to save Tadjikistan. And then there is Indian Kashmir and Iranian Khorasan. Last, but not least, there is the threat which the Wahabi Pashtuns pose to the rest of Pakistan. No matter where you look letting these guys loose is bad, bad news.

This thing can only be tackled by a joint regional effort. The Taliban and the crazies in Pakistan are only as strong and dangerous as their neighbors let them be. So yes, the US should get out, no argument here, but the US should negotiate an exit which would not throw the entire region into even more chaos.

alibi said...

It looks like The USA don’t care anymore about Afghanistan. It’s a lost war anyway. So instead they want to concentrate on the real problems.

Problem N1 - Russia
Until recently Russia hadn’t been considered as an any sort of a problem. And in fact Russia hadn‘t been. And it’s still not a real rival for the States. But quite a few miscalculations by the White House brought the Georgian war. And it’s become obvious that Russia has something to say. And it still has a way to deliver it’s message.

Since the war The States lost quite a lot. Among the others things they lost Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and in the process of loosing Azerbaijan.
All these countries are oil and gas exporters. And Washington was really counting on these resources. And we all know that it’s all about resources. Always has been.

So - way not forget about Afghanistan and leave Taliban to be dealt with by the Russians. There is no oil in Afghanistan anyway. Russia will have no choice. Neither Uzbekistan, nor Tajikistan have any substantial military forces to oppose Taliban on their borders. And Taliban inevitable will fight everything they will border.

And The USA will have a good chance to check on Iran. Their problem N2.
There is still some oil in Iran. And it’s too friendly to the Russians so, why not switch the countries.
Since Iraqi’s oil is secured, and it’s too risky to confront Russia on her immediate borders, and the Israelis keep pushing Washington - screw Afghanistan. Make a deal with Taliban and get out of the country. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Taliban, or Pinochet, or Hitler. There are national interests at stake and we all know that when National interests are at stake nothing else matters. /BTW by national interests I meant Israeli’s interests too/

To Saker - very good analysis. Thanks a lot.

AA said...

@VS: "The only result from this kind of policy will be to force Russia and Iran to dramatically increase their support for the Tadjiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras while tensions between India and Pakistan will flare up. In short: these planned "negotiations" will achieve only one thing: to make a bad situation infinitely worse.

Might the US not quietly be seeking to aggravate tensions for Iran, India, Pakistan, and Russia? If that is America's objective (however unwise it may be in the long run) then the Taliban may prove to be America's worthy and useful idiots.

-AA

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@alibi & AA: you both make very good points. As is the case so often one is left to wonder whether the Empire's policy are plain stupid or actually machiavellically astute. In reality, we are probably dealing with a combination of both.

I also have to agree that the outcome is already preordained as Iran, Russia, Tadjikistan, Uzbekiztan and India simply cannot allow this situation to explode in everybody's collective face.

Since, as alibi correctly points out, the USA has already lost all of the important countries in the region AA might also be right in saying that for the USA to let the situation become worse could well be a way to use the Taliban as useful idiots (which they sure are) against what can only be called a gradually strengthening anti-US coalition of local nations.

You guys both made very valuable in interesting comments.

Thanks a lot!

AA said...

Btw, great analysis. I appreciate being able to read considered opinions like these.

It's difficult enough to detect the shifts in US policy unless one follows the media very closely. It's much harder to find a candid assessment of its consequences unless the opinion comes from some bought-and-paid-for "think-tank" that is deliberately shading its opinion to serve some undisclosed agenda.

For those seeking evidence of this realignment in policy I've included a few links below:


New Tactic in Afghanistan:Negotiate with the Taliban

Gates Says Talk with Taliban
US to drop Mullah Omar from blacklist
Time to talk with the Taliban, governments say

Shifts in policy are rarely announced until they are already a fait accompli. Strange as it may seem, I find that most Americans still believe that any change in policy would be openly discussed and debated by the two parties and would be widely covered by the media.

That's not really how it works in America. The issues that are argued over are carefully selected. The bulk of policy formation is rarely proclaimed publicly. But its a struggle to open people eyes to this reality.

That's why I provided the links above. The casual observer of the news may not be aware that a major shift in policy toward is underway. [I realize you are well aware of this, but the evidence wasn't included & not all readers may realize what you were talking about] Changes like these are not always accomplished with the fanfare that accompanied the decision to "surge" in Iraq.

-AA

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@AA: thanks for the kind words and for the links. It is amazing that this kind of stuff is simply never discussed anywhere. So much for "democracy" or the "by the people" nonsense.

Check out the update at the bottom of my story: looks like the Afghans are making the US back down from this crazy stuff :-)

Anonymous said...

I am only interested in leaving the region entirely, not negotiating with anybody about anything. Why is any of this our business or concern? I don't give a fig who rules Afghanistan. Leave the middle East too. Ron Paul is right. In 91, it was a mistake to invade Iraq and then the absurdly stupid policy of moving troops into Saudi Arabia- that and our support for Israel, was the to root of 911. I DON'T CARE if the Israeli settlers get to have their manifest destiny dreams fulfilled.
I don't care what flag flies over Kabul. I Don't care if Kuwait and their royal family regime prevails either. I don't care if anybody votes in Iraq ever again.

alibi said...

Just wanted to add a few words to my previous comment.

It all looked pretty secure for Washington resources wise just before the Georgian War. Georgia was on the way to NATO, than - Azerbaijan. There was an idea to lower requirements for new NATO members exclusively for Azerbaijan, considering it’s lack of Democracy. Kazakhstan has been courted by Washington since early 90s. All these countries had been involved in Nabucco project.

All until the War.

Saakashvilly has changed everything. And by the end of August Washington had to start thinking.

War in Iraq was justified as long as there was oil. Afghanistan, on the other hand became a burden. Kazakh Uzbek and Turkmen resources didn’t look so close anymore. The only substantial oil and gas supplier left - Iran. But with both hands busy in Iraq and Afghanistan America couldn’t afford to invade Iran. So - why not bring Taliban back in. Engage the Russians with the problem and turn on Iran with at least one hand free now? America can even get back to old good game of supporting Taliban as long as they will keep the Russians busy.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@alibi: America can even get back to old good game of supporting Taliban as long as they will keep the Russians busy

That, making some kind deal with the Baathists in Iraq, a war against Iran and a new Israeli onslaught on Hezbollah in Lebanon are just the logical next steps of the anti-Shia "redirection".

I don't think it will work though. The Russians, Iranians and Tadjiks are more powerful than the Taliban, Iran will defeat any US attack and Israel is no closer of defeating Hezbollah than it was in 2006.

And, in the meantime, the US economy is officially in a recession: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7699884.stm

alibi said...

@VS "Iran will defeat any US attack..."

Do you really think so?

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@alibi: Do you really think so?

Yes. Emphatically yes. I wrote a lengthy article about this here:

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2007/07/irans-asymmetrical-response-options.html

and here:

http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_24871.shtml

alibi said...

@VS I'm reading your article on Iran. Thanks for the link. Will comment later.

Cheers

P2O2 said...

@Saker

Hi, a few questions:

1) First, the term "Taliban" is somewhat vague...

You definition is also vague. Is it a "move" or a "religion move"? Is it homogenous to one nation or spans over several nations/tribes? Who finance the "move" or "sect" or whatever it is?

2) And just as the US propaganda accused them to be, the Taliban were the closest and most dedicated allies of Osama Bin-Laden, al-Qaeda and the rest of the Wahabi crackpots worldwide.

Do you mean the Saudi Arabian Masters as well?

3) I don't see any other solution than defeating the Wahabis in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

You mean "erasing" them? How do you want to do that without yuting flow of money from Saudi Arabia?

4) ... forcing the Russians to go right back into Chechnya and to "finish the job" ...

Russians could do that as Chechnya is placed within Russian borders, on RUSSIA's territory. How would you like to do the same to Talibans in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

5) You can safely count on the Taliban sooner or later doing something similar with Tajikistan, Iran, Indian controlled Kashmir or even China.

Didn't you overestimate the strength of the "move" (Talibans) in the light of what you said about Tajiks fighters for example? Do you think Iranian Revolutionary Guard would treat Talibans "softly"? Or Chinese? Wasn't the Russian treatment of Chechen rebels a good example to the countries you named?

6) That is the beauty of it: *all* the region's countries are firmly opposed to what the Taliban represent and *nobody* wants these crazies back in power.

The above fragment comes from the best paragraph from your text. Americans can be morons but they learn. I would do the same - let the Russians and Chinese to toil with Talibans.

7) China tries to use Pakistan against India and the USA which tries to use Pakistan against Russia and Iran.

You forgot about something. A quote - "Chinese interests in Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sitwe in Myanmar have serious security implications for India". It comes from China chequers India : Gwadar - Hambantota - Sitwe. See also Interpreting China's Grand Strategy at Gwadar and Gwadar: China's Naval Outpost on the Indian Ocean.

What China should have valued more, the ports, or Taliban presence in the region?

8) The only result from this kind of policy will be to force Russia and Iran to dramatically increase their support for the Tadjiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras while tensions between India and Pakistan will flare up.

The other half your statement does not have to come true. But the first will benefit Russia and Iran. They would deligate the burden of the fights with Taliban to Tadjiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. The latters would gain too if negotiated hard with Russia and Iran.

9) In short: these planned "negotiations" will achieve only one thing: to make a bad situation infinitely worse.

In the light of what I asked here is your negative view still valid? There will be winners and losers. Could you name them?

Cheers

P2O2 said...

I wrote my comment having only first three comments on my screen. So part of my questions were answered in the follow-up discussion. Thanks.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@p202: lots of issues here. Let me try to answer them succinctly:

I call Taliban those Pashtuns who share the Deobandi/Wahabi theology. I definitely include the Saudis in my list of crazy Wahabi/Salafis. By "defeating" the Talibans & Co. I mean inflicting enough damage on them to prevent them form being a threat to the region. It is true the Chechnia was part of Russia, and I am not suggesting that the USA finish the job. I am suggesting that all the regional powers give their full support to the anti-Taliban forces inside Afghanistan and let them deal with the Talibans. I don't believe that the Taliban can prevail upon any regional power, buy they sure can create havoc and misery (not to mention ugly responses. look what happened to Chechnia: sure, the Russians did win, but at what price for the civilians there?!). I think that China's support for Pakistan is fundamentally misguided. lastly, whatever happens next, I believe that the real winners in the region will be Iran and Russia.

Sorry for the ugly "telegraphic" style, but there was much to cover in little time and space :-)

Lysander said...

Saker,

Your argument is based on the premise that the U.S. plus some combination of local forces can defeat the Taliban. That's possible but hardly assured. The whole war sarted with the U.S. allying with the non-Taliban and has been fought that way ever since. There already is a coalition of Tajiks, Uzbeks and some Pashtuns. There already is an afghan "army." The U.S> has been negotiating with Russia and India about this topic for a while. They have already been trying precisely what you say they should try. The results have been less than satisfactory from NATO's point of view.

Indeed, that is the only reason the U.S. has been talking at all. Because they couldn't win otherwise.

So now they U.S. will first try to buy off some fighters. If that works, great. If not then, perhaps ally with them against a greater enemy (Iran, Russia, Whoever) If that fails, then maybe negotiate a face saving withdrawal.

But the ***ABSOLUTE LAST*** thing the U.S. should do is try to be the arbiter of who wins Afghanistan's civil war.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@lysander:Your argument is based on the premise that the U.S. plus some combination of local forces can defeat the Taliban

Note quite. My argument is based on the premise that a combination of local forces should taken on the "Talibans & Co." in Afghanistan AND Pakistan and that this combination of forces could prevail if the US does not shore up the Talibans, al-Qaeda, the crackpots in Waziristan and Pakistan.

Look, I understand that this whole mess is so unappealing to anyone that all one wants to do is get out and forget about it, except for it is too late for this. The Empire has been arming, financing and training these crazies for decades now and it is going to be impossible to just look away and hope that the problem stays contained. And the issue, I think, is not to arbiter a foreign civil war but to accept the following premise:

The Deobandi/Wahabi/Salafi threat is qualitatively different from other "factions" or "ethnicities" and since it represents a regional danger it needs to be dealt with by a regional effort of all the countries concerned. If the US wants out - great. Just don't "negotiate" (in other words *empower*) the loonies.

To repeat: if the US wants to stay out - GREAT!

Let the locals handle the problem.

Just don't make it worse than it already is.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@lysander: just to clarify: when I write that [you] "should not make the problem worse" I don't mean *you* "you" :-)

I meant the USA and those who advocate negotiations with the loonies

Cheers!

Shashank said...

The one thing that I am not able to understand is what will happen to Pakistan if the US doesn't hate the Taliban now?
I mean, most of the Pakistanis hate the Taliban, remember most parts of Pak are liberal (I am looking at Karachi, Lahore etc). In case the US 'legitimizes' Taliban, then I think a 'real' civil war will break open in Pak.
Pak military commanders are mostly from the Punjab region and they definitely would not want their region to be 'Talibanized'.
Pak's politico class & business class hate the Taliban. Where will Pak go now?

The only thing I hope is that to overcome all these internal conflicts they dont launch an attack on India. I dont see India fighting back under the current stupid govt.

alibi said...

@VS I've read your article on Iran.
It's good. Will need some time to think it over.

Cheers.

Anand said...

I am impressed Vineyard. Well written.

The Taliban, AQ and all their Takfiri allies need to be smashed. That has to be the human species' number 1 security priority.

I would note that the ANA can smash them. Just give them the tools. The ANA is well diversified among Pashtu, Tajiks, Uzbechs, and Hazaras. The slur that Pashtu are under represented among them are vicious Taliban lies. {It is true that East Pashtus are over represented and that some southern Pashtus are under represented, but Pashtuns over all are well represented.}

All the ANA hate the Taliban. NATO advisors and trainers are surprised by their tenacity and desire to fight the Taliban.

There are three main adversaries the ANA is fighting:

1) Mullah Omar and related Taliban fighters. They are defeated by the ANA in almost every engagement by 20 to 1, or 10 to 1. They aren't the primary military threat
2) Hekmatyur, His forces are again no match for the ANA. He has more foreign fighters in his group.
3) Haqqani Network, they are by far the primary enemy in Afghanistan. They are backed by large parts of the ISI, and Pakistani army. Most of the NATO soldiers, ANA and ANP who have died have been killed by them. They have more than 10,000 highly capable non Pashtu Pakistani fighters in their ranks. Many Chechans, Dagastanis and Arabs as well.

The Haqqani Network probably tried to assassinate Karzai, blew up the Indian embassy, was involved in the murder of Bhutto, and is related to many recent terrorist attacks inside India.

They conducted the recent attack that killed 10 French soldiers.

Negotiating with the Taliban does nothing about the Haqqani Network.

I would point out that the ANA only had a budget of $200 million in 2006. Only now are they starting to get serious money. They will smash the Taliban.

There is discussion about India sending trainers and advisors to help the ANSF (they already have some that help quietly.) I hope this happens. I also hope that China and Russia send in trainers.

China has been asked for years to send troops to Afghanistan, but have declined so far (although China is allied with the Afghan government and sends them money.)

Russia is offering hundreds of scholarships to ANA (maybe ANP?) officers to attend officer school and staff college in Russia. But Russia needs to do a lot more. They need to send instructors to Afghan academies. Russia has been supplying many weapons to the ANSF. It is interesting that Russia and NATO continue to work closely together to train and equip the ANSF despite the current Georgia related tension.

Vineyard, remember who pushed to make Karzai PM in Bonn . . . Iran. Pakistan found Karzai acceptable, and so he became PM. Karzai is the most acceptable mainstream Afghan politician for Pakistan. Karzai has been pushing for "negotiations" with the Taliban. But the Afghan people and Afghan Polity are fighting back. I think Karzai is wrong on this point.

Vineyard, support more aid to the ANA and ANP. They are the solution. Only they can defeat the Taliban, AQ linked networks and the Takfiris.

Again, kudos to you Vineyard for recognizing the Taliban for what they really are.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@shashank: you are absolutely correct - a lot for people in Pakistan *hate* the Taliban and their Deobandi friends in Pakistan. A good friend of mine was a colonel in the Pakistani Army and I remember how utterly horrified he was by what was being done to his country by the crazies (mind you, he was a patriot and a very pious Muslim, but he did not want the crazies to turn Pakistan into some weird "Deobandi Pashtunistan"). The problem is that the Pakistanis who oppose these forces have been cynically dumped by the Empire who did exactly the same thing in Pakistan as in Saudi Arabia: extended its full support to the folks which the Empire mistakenly believed would be pro-USA and, therefore, anti-Wahabi. This is nonsense. By imposing a pro-US dictatorship on Pakistan and the KSA this policy only strengthens the Wahabis who, then, slowly start infiltrating the local government structures.

And the sane people in both countries are stuck between an externally pro-US and super-corrupt dictatorship and the crazies.

Talk about a recipe for disaster...

Anonymous said...

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
http://www.rawa.org/events/sevenyear_e.htm
"Neither the US nor Jehadies and Taliban,
Long Live the Struggle of Independent and Democratic Forces of Afghanistan!"

It seems that if the invaders stop pretending and the dictator according to them should be Mullah Omar or some other suit-clad Bache Saqao then they should cancel or postpone the ridiculous hard work of elections.

RAWA strongly believes that there should be no expectation of either the US or any other country to present us with democracy, peace and prosperity. Our freedom is only achievable at the hands of our people. It is the duty of all the intellectuals, all the democratic forces and progressive and independence-seeking people to rise in a constant and decisive struggle for independence and democracy by taking the support of our wounded people as the independent force, against the presence of the US and its allies and the domination of Jehadi and Taliban criminals.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anand: I thought you and I had a deal. Please stick to it.

Anand said...

Lysander, a military solution has not been tried yet. The ANSF was severely underfunded until last year.

Give the ANSF some money, and watch them smash the Taliban. NATO also avoided fighting the Taliban until recently.

The Afghans are on the side of angels. They are fighting for the whole world. If they win, the world wins. If they lose, expect potentially millions of civilians to die around the world from Takfiri terrorism.

Notice the AQ linked attack that killed 64 civilians in Assam today. That is only a hint of what will follow if the Taliban defeat the Afghans. No country will be safe. To assert otherwise is complete lunacy.

The whole world should give Afghanistan $100 billion in grants over 10 years, and let the Afghans "SMASH" the Takfiri. This must be done . . . for the sake of the species.

Shashank said...

@Anand.. don't forget the root of this evil.. wahabbis from petro rich countries..

Lysander said...

Saker,

We've been reading your blog for a couple of years now and we all know where you stand on the empire. So if you're saying the U.S. is trying to empower the Taliban in some sort of ant-Iran or Russian redirection, I'd say you're right. If your saying they should not be doing this, I agree.

Perhaps we misunderstood your article as saying the U.S. should commit more resources to see that other powers defeat the Taliban. If so, I have to disagree. The U.S. should leave and let the matter sort itself out for better or worse. That's all. On most other things you've written about we have always appreciated your insight.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@lysander: I understand your position and I basically agree with it. I only would add that *IF* the USA wants to negotiate a withdrawal it should be with the array of countries and forces which are opposed to the Taliban. So basically I see the following options:

a) a US withdrawal coordinated with the anti-Taliban forces: best option

b) a unilateral US withdrawal with no negotiations with anyone (but NATO, of course): good option

c) a gradual US/NATO withdrawal coordinated with the Taliban: worst option.

But even if we did not agree: I always appreciate your comments and criticisms and if you think I got it wrong - please tell me :-)

Cheers!

VS

Bruno said...

Excellent posts and comments. I'm glad I found you chaps again. :)

What happened to the blog, AA?

A small comment for Alibi:

[alibi] "There is no oil in Afghanistan anyway."

Correct. However, the USA has planned a trans caucasus oil pipeline from the Caspian for a long time now. It's in order to circumvent Russia and to put the squeeze on it and other energy competitors. that pipeline was slated to run through Afghanistan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline

here's more information in detail:

"They affirm that until August [2001], the US government saw the Taliban regime "as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia" from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. Until now, says the book, "the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that." But, confronted with Taliban's refusal to accept US conditions, "this rationale of energy security changed into a military one", the authors claim. "At one moment during the negotiations, the US representatives told the Taliban, 'either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs,'" Brisard said in an interview in Paris."

http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/oil.html

VS -

I'm sorry that the loathsome Anand found his way here, too. My commiserations.

alibi said...

To Bruno.

Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of that.

It makes me think that those people in Washington are really from another planet.

It would take more than just a Taliban - American word for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kasakhstan to agree with a rout through Afganistan. These countries for sure know better.

I'd say the Taliban suffer for nothing. This idea was a still born child anyway.