Three cups of diddly-squat 2

Afghanistan is an American protectorate; its kleptocrat president is an American client, kept alive these last twelve years only by American arms. The Afghan campaign is this nation’s longest war — and our longest un-won war: That’s to say, nowadays we can’t even lose in under a decade. I used to say that, 24 hours after the last Western soldier leaves Afghanistan, it will be as if we were never there. But it’s already as if we were never there. The American imperium has lasted over twice as long as the Taliban’s rule — and yet, unlike them, we left no trace.

So Mark Steyn declares. “All we have built” he writes, “is another squalid sharia state” that practices the stoning to death of adulterers. And we can only nod in sad agreement.

In my book America Alone, I quoted a riposte to the natives by a British administrator. … The chap in question was Sir Charles Napier, out in India and faced with the practice of suttee — the Hindu tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Napier’s response was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

He praises Napier’s “cultural cool”. His confidence in the rightness of his own culture’s laws was “in the long run, more effective than a drone”.

India is better off without suttee, just as Afghanistan would be better off without child marriage, honor killing, death for apostasy, and stoning for adultery. …

The American way of war is to win the war in nothing flat, and then spend the next decade losing the peace. The American people have digested that to the point where they assume that … the next intervention [would be]  a fool’s errand. The rest of the world grasps it, too. If Hamid Karzai treats Washington with contempt and gets away with it, why expect the Iranians to behave any differently?

A nation responsible for almost half the planet’s military spending goes into battle with the sentimental multiculti fantasist twaddle of Greg Mortensen’s Three Cups of Tea as its strategy manual — and then wonders why it can’t beat goatherds with fertilizer.

All true. But even if America did manage to put a stop to child marriage, honor killing, death for apostasy, and stoning for adultery in Afghanistan, wouldn’t they resume as soon as the last American troops left? As far as we know, suttee was not resumed in India when the British Raj came to an end. So Napier and his fellow administrators won the argument while they had the power to enforce their law. But that was India, a civilization. Who believes in an Afghan civilization – even if it has had periods with less stoning and more Western pop music in it?

Americans [might] sigh wearily and shrug, “Afghanistan, the graveyard of empire,” or sneer, “If they want to live in a seventh-century s***hole, f*** ’em.” But neither assertion is true. Do five minutes’ googling, and you’ll find images from the Sixties and early Seventies of women in skirts above the knee listening to the latest Beatles releases in Kabul record stores.

Those are undeniable signs of our culture, but are they the best we have to give for the improvement of barbarous s***holes? They are far from matching Napier’s gift to India. But nor are they the worst. What would be most representative of American culture now? The deeply depressing answer may have been given by the Obama Administration and the Pentagon: that cloying lying little book Three Cups of Tea.

Struggling with a culture called Islam 3

On September 1, George Will wrote that it was time to stop the war in Afghanistan. Broadly speaking, we agree with him – we have said that the war is pointless. (See A pointless war, August 20, 2009.) To us the most interesting part of the article was this:

The Economist describes Hamid Karzai’s government – – his vice-presidential running mate is a drug trafficker – – as “so inept, corrupt and predatory” that people sometimes yearn for restoration of the warlords, “who were less venal and less brutal than Mr Karzai’s government”.

We don’t trust the Economist, and the statement that people (who exactly? How does the reporter know?) yearn for the restoration of the warlords (did they ever go?) is prima facie unlikely. But that the Karzai government is corrupt, venal and brutal we fully believe. Also that his running-mate is a drug-trafficker. How many rich and influential Afghans are not well-connected to the opium industry, we wonder. And isn’t it like wondering how many rich and influential Saudis are not well-connected to the oil industry?

George Will’s article has been much discussed in the blogosphere. By far the best discussion of it, and of the Afghan war in general – the one with which we are in closest agreement – is by Diana West in Townhall:

Finally, some debate over U.S. war policy in Afghanistan. Or at least debate over George F. Will’s call to pull the plug on U.S. war policy in Afghanistan, headlined “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan.”

The negative response from conservatives was revealing. It showed that after eight years of America’s post-9/11 war efforts, which started out as President Bush’s vaguely named “war on terror” and never crystallized into a cogent strategy against the jihad driving the “terror,” ambiguity and confusion still cloud the prevailing thinking, from the conventional wisdom to war strategy.

Most conservative rebuttals ignored Will’s reckoning of just how grossly ill-suited Afghanistan is to the hallucinogenic U.S. policy of constructing a modern society out of dust as our military worms affection from a hostile population. Instead, they focused on the concept of leaving Afghanistan — a move I, too, have advocated since April in my column and at my blog as a necessary precondition to better repulsing global jihad. Such an effort is, or should be, a multi-level campaign to reverse jihad’s ultimate goal, which is to extend Islamic law by both violent and other means. In this larger context, Afghanistan is not only just one front, it is also a front too far.

Most of my conservative colleagues, however, see withdrawal from Afghanistan as surrender.

This assumption, based in the fallacy that U.S. forces are simply fighting an army called “the Taliban,” rather than struggling with a culture called Islam shared by enemy and civilian alike, makes sense only if withdrawing from Afghanistan means ending our efforts against global jihad. The point of withdrawal is not to stop destroying America’s active enemies in Afghanistan or elsewhere … The point of withdrawal is to stop trying to create an American ally out of Sharia-supreme Afghanistan, something we attempted at great expense in Sharia-supreme Iraq, and failed.

Of course, what animates and drives most conservatives today is their vision of Iraq as a “success,” and their desire to repeat that “success” in Afghanistan. What has become increasingly clear to me, however, is that an infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. This, in effect, is what our “nation-building” troops have been ordered to do both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let me rephrase: An infidel nation can indeed fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. It just can’t win it.

It also turns out there is nothing there for infidels to win. After six U.S.-intensive years, Iraq remains just another OPEC-participating, Israel-boycotting, Hezbollah-sympathetic, Sharia-supreme, anti-U.S. entity with new and improved ties to Iran. Why? Our belief systems, Islam’s and the West’s, are so diametrically opposed that our interests cannot intersect. Left and Right in this country, however, scrub this truth and its centuries of confirming history from all policy — an antiseptic way to view conflict in the world that will always miss the cure by ignoring the germs.

On this count, Will’s column is no different, never once contemplating Islam. Which is why his conclusion may be a little fuzzy. Describing his “offshore” alternatives to basing a massive army inside Afghanistan, Will identifies the key mission as “concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.”

I’m not sure what Will means by calling Pakistan “a nation that actually matters.” Certainly, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal “matters” because it could hurt us, and thus our national security demands an execution-ready plan to neutralize it. But Pakistan, a jihad-based culture, doesn’t “matter” in terms of fitting into an anti-jihad alliance — the ultimate goal, whether admitted or not, of efforts to work together. It can’t. Quick facts: Pakistan’s army’s motto is “Faith, piety and holy war in the path of Allah.” Seventy-eight percent of its people, the latest Pew Poll tells us, support the death penalty for leaving Islam. Not exactly our ideal match.

But we keep such politically incorrect facts out of focus. Then we struggle to see why things go wrong. More clarity is required. More debate is essential. Eight years after 9/11, this means finally reckoning with Islam — discussing jihad, analyzing Sharia, understanding dhimmitude — as a strategic factor in U.S. policy.

One thing we can be sure of: such a ‘reckoning with Islam’ will not happen on President Obama’s watch. He likes Islam.