Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Must-Read Afghan Analysis

Robert Dreyfuss has a great article up, with an excerpt from his recent interview with AfPak expert Christine Fair. Here's a taste:

Q. (Dreyfuss) If there's a way out of this, do we need to start with the Pakistanis, get them to bring the Taliban to the table? And maybe that means giving the Pakistanis and the Saudis some stuff that they want, because we need their cooperation?

FAIR: "That's one formulation of the problem. I have a somewhat different take. If you believe that the Taliban is our key national security concern, then what you say is right. I don't think they are our preeminent national security concern. The Taliban are a bunch of hillbillies. They are a parochial, territorial insurgency. Despite all of the hullaballoo, they don't really have an international agenda. These guys are focused on Afghanistan, period. Our concerns are Al Qaeda. And there are more Al Qaeda operating in Pakistan than in Afghanistan, and there are more international terrorist groups operating in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. A vast majority of these international terrorist conspiracies that have been busted in Europe and the U.K., their footprints are in Pakistan. Obviously, Jaish-e Muhammad, Lashkar-e Taiba, the list goes on and on and on. These guys are all in Pakistan. And Pakistan has been using militant groups for six decades as part of their policy. …

"So I would argue that we've got this so completely bass-ackwards that it's almost comical! We've got these troops in Afghanistan, so we've got to placate Pakistan, cajole it, make it feel important, throw money at it, because we need Pakistan to support the logistics. So we have this narrative that says, to stabilize Afghanistan we need to get Pakistan's support. Stabilizing Afghanistan's not the goal. Quite the contrary. We need to be in a different place in Afghanistan so we can play hardball with the Pakistanis. So the idea is, we have to stabilize Afghanistan, so we need to get Pakistan and all these other clowns on board? That's not our objective. Our objective is to wrap up international terrorism, limit our exposure to it, and to preclude a nuclear exchange on the Indian subcontinent, and to preclude nuclear proliferation. And all of the return addresses for those problems are right there in Pakistan. And because of our position in Afghanistan, we are so adversely positioned to deal with Pakistan."

I saw a Dreyfuss speech recently. He made a pretty good case for an Afghan withdrawal, but had no idea whether this would happen.

The thing to remember here is that we really shouldn't care what the Taliban does. They are not international terrorists.

If you are concerned about the terrorist bogeyman, then remember this. It is our invasion and occupation of Muslim countries, and the killings of hundreds of thousands of Muslim people (most of whom are completely innocent), which is fueling the recruitment of terrorist groups.

The next time a 9-11 type event occurs, we will find that the reasons for the attack are because of our policies of invading Muslim countries and killing their citizens. And we will have it coming to us.

Is there any difference, really, between 9-11 and the shock and awe campaign unleashed in Baghdad in 2003? Both events were repugnant, heinous acts of violence against an innocent civilian population. According to the Oxford Research Group, 6,616 civilians were killed just in the initial shock and awe aerial invasion of Baghdad. 2995 people, mostly civilians were killed in the 9-11 attacks.

Please don't tell me that what we did was justified because it was done in the context of war. War is just a label that's used to justify killing civilians. There is no fundamental difference between war and acts of terrorism; they are just different methods of using violence to get an outcome. Neither is acceptable.

And if we want the other side to see that violence is not the answer, then we will need to to reject its use as well, except in true self-defense. The place to start this is Afghanistan. The time to do it is now.

No comments:

Post a Comment