Misunderstanding the Afghan War (After a Decade!)

Ahmad Majidyar blogs at the American Enterprise Institute about US-NATO negotiations with the Taliban, characterizing them as “goodwill gestures” and “appeasement.”

The British Embassy in Kabul recently hosted an Iftar party on the occasion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The guest list included senior ex-members of the Taliban regime. One photo from the event shows British ambassador William Patey posing cheerfully with Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban’s former ambassador to Pakistan.

The Taliban’s response to the embassy’s goodwill gesture is telling. Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the British Council office in Kabul this morning, killing at least eight Afghan policemen and taking over the compound for several hours. The Taliban’s spokesman said the group carried out the attack to mark the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Great Britain in 1919.

The nationalistic blindness here is unbelievable. Apparently, in Majidyar’s world, a ruthless decade-long war and occupation which has ravaged the country, caused immense human suffering, is still leading to unprecedented levels of civilian casualties, has set up and lavishly supports one of the most corrupt governments in the world…that’s goodwill. And promising to leave by 2014, and then taking it back, insisting on an extra decade of occupation at least? That also must be goodwill.

The policy of appeasing the Taliban has failed. Diplomatic engagement with the Taliban will not produce any results until the terrorist group is defeated militarily.

Again, the appeasement part is a joke. While Obama has made moves to negotiate and reach a political settlement which may include a power sharing agreement (the irony…), it can hardly be said to be appeasement. And to insist that the Taliban be “defeated militarily” is to grossly misunderstand this conflict. It is based on this notion the remaining Taliban threatens America or that they may give sanctuary to al Qaeda after a withdrawal, but this is clearly unsupported by the facts. The Afghan Taliban do not have foreign policy objectives outside of ousting foreign occupiers. And the relationship with al Qaeda has soured, making collusion unlikely. So what would it even mean to defeat them militarily? They are religiously committed to driving out the American presence and won’t stop until they are dead. And when they are dead, their deaths as well as the ongoing US military presence there will serve to inspire a new generation of insurgents.

It’s interesting, because Majidyar wrote down these facts implicitly when he reported that the recent Taliban attack on the British Council office in Kabul was said by the Taliban spokesman “to mark the anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Great Britain in 1919.” There it is, screaming right in his face. And all he can think is “stop the appeasement…escalate the war.”

10 thoughts on “Misunderstanding the Afghan War (After a Decade!)”

  1. I don't get it? I don't see the irony. England was a colonialist country that tried to hold Afghanistan against her will. The US is bringer of freedom, and only those terrorists want us out.

  2. You're such an hypocrite. You're concerned about civilian casualties by NATO. What about the massacre of ethnic minorities and those who've sided with the Afghan govenrment and US once the foreign troops leave and the Taliban return? Also, US and NATO haven't destroyed that country. It was already destroyed by civil war and the Taliban. Since 2001, the world community has rebuilt its infrastructure, more than 8 million go to school, and people have found a hope for future.

  3. Bobbyy, I've traveled to Afghanistan several times. Despite continued violence by the Taliban, the progress in the country is unprecedented in its history, in terms of education, construction, economy, democracy…

    1. Instead of wasting all this money on the so called war-on-terror, we could have simply given 1/1000 of it to Afghans to help them rebuild their country after the Soviets left. Had we done that we would have seen a lot more hospitals and schools there. The war only benefits the warmongers, MIC, and the contractors who make tonnes of money.

  4. The best thing that US Government can do right now is to get out from Afganistan. Let them solve thier own problem. Last time Iraq war, this time Afganistan, what is next? Don't make the same mistake, because million of people will die…

  5. What is there to misunderstand? – the US is there so that Big Oil can build its proposed gas pipeline through that country.
    As to civilian deaths – Big Oil doesn't care.
    As to all those killed by the Taliban when they had full power – Big Oil doesn't care.
    The world didn't care when the Taliban were blowing up centuries old Buddhas or brutalizing the people – NO one invaded Afghanistan then to 'save' the people.
    It was ONLY after the Taliban reneged on a deal to allow that gas pipeling to be built through that country that the US – NATO invaded.
    War is ALL about corporate profits – NOT anything about bringing 'freedom' to nations / peoples.
    Afghanistan has always been "the graveyard of soldiers and of empires" and always will be.
    At some point in time – the US and NATO will withdraw from Afghanistan – whether in 10-20-30 years? IF the Afghan people do NOT want the Taliban to rule / brutalize them – it is they who have to fight for their own freedom – it cannot be won or sustained by the US and NATO.

  6. Britain holds ill will towards Afghanistan because Afghans humiliated and helped reduce British power in Asia and elsewhere. Britain still uses the colonialists blueprint directly and indirectly(via US and Pakistan) against Afghanistan and against Pashtun/Baloch tribal areas of Pakistan. Israel influences US on its middle east policy while British-Pakistan on its Afghanistan policy…American fall to take a humanist approach towards Afghans, we are manipulated by war mongers/powers and its affiliates into thinking Afghans are "barbarians"…How many Afghans have committed terrorism inside the west? or even in Russia which massacred 3 million Afghans? ZERO. Just as zero Afghans were involved in 911..Yet the US war machines continues to take revenge for 911 from Afghans. I would say ask any Patriot American,we are what we would do if were invaded by China if our govt was harboring a terrorist(and the chinese was assisted by some minority section of our population, militarily). I have seen Afghan hospitality and their fierce independence- and accept the reality that any independent nation's people can become barbarians if occupied. I wish for the US govt and military not to follow British on its revenge against Afghans…British have activated "MAD MULLAHS" against Afghanistan throughout the past 200+ years, so do not be surprised if you find those killing Afghans, American and others are proxies of Britain.

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