Democracy Afghan style 2

From the Clarion Project:

These old men have had their purple-stained fingertips cut off by the Taliban as a punishment  for having cast their votes in an election.

They are in hospital garb. But according to the Clarion Project, they were taken to a hospital after the amputations were performed.

The Taliban cut off the fingers of 11 Afghan men for the “crime” of voting in the presidential election runoff.  The Taliban had warned the population that the punishment would occur and to “remain far away from the polling stations… Lest you should be hurt or killed.”

The men, mostly elders, had exited the polls in the Herat Province with their finger staining in ink, indicating they had voted.

Afghanistan’s Deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi said in a tweet that, “The insurgents who were defeated today cut off inked fingers of 11 voters in #Herat” and that the injured were transported to the hospital.

This was “the first time that power will be transferred democratically in Afghanistan”. There was “a higher-than-expected turnout of 52 percent of the country’s estimated 13.5 million voters”. Two hundred polling booths out of 6,365 were “inoperable because of security threats”. Of those who voted, 62% were men, 38% women.

The run off for president is between former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist. One of the two will replace current Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has held the office since 2001.

Until the Taliban surgeons take over the government again.

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, June 19, 2014

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No reason at all 3

The war in Afghanistan has long been pointless. Now it’s insane.

We agree with Daniel Greenfield who writes:

In the first years of Operation Enduring Freedom, the United States managed to oversee a campaign that broke the Taliban, drove them out of major cities and regions, including Kabul, and left them dispirited and broken. And did it while taking under 50 casualties a year. But in 2010, the United States suffered almost ten times as many casualties as it did in the toughest battles of the early days of the war.

The differences between the US involvement in Afghanistan in 2001-2003 and 2005-2011 are tremendous and profound. And they explain the ugly death toll and the nature of the unwinnable war as it’s being fought today.

In 2001-2002, we barreled into Afghanistan on a mission to break the Taliban and kill or capture as many Al Qaeda as possible. We employed maximum firepower so casually that the fleeing Taliban fighters were thoroughly demoralized. So much so that it took them years to even seriously think about confronting us again.

Let’s go back to the end of 2001 and the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi. Hundreds of Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners imprisoned in Qala-i-Jangi Fortress revolted, seized weapons from their guards and took over parts of the fortress. The United States and its allies responded with mass bombardment using gunships and guided missiles. A handful of surviving prisoners took refuge in the basement, which was flooded with water, forcing them to surrender.

Can anyone imagine something like this being done today, without everyone involved facing media smear campaigns and criminal trials? Only 3 years later, the mild mistreatment of some terrorists and insurgents imprisoned at Abu Ghraib resulted in a media feeding frenzy and criminal trials. …

We’ve never thought those prisoners were mistreated at Abu Ghraib. They were humiliated, and what more fitting punishment could there be for an enemy whose male-dominated culture values face-saving above all else, especially if it is done by women?

Two years later, the Haditha Marines were virtually lynched for acting in self-defense. … The difference between 2001 and 2011, is that today the idea of fighting a war is controversial. …

In the agonizing days and months after September 11, there was still a clear moral compass. We understood who the enemy was and we didn’t care how we treated him. But as the memory faded, the moral compass faded into guilt and sympathy for the enemy. We stopped thinking in terms of kill ratios and turned it all into a nation building exercise. We forgot that we were there to kill terrorists, and decided that we were there to turn them into model citizens instead.

In Afghanistan the Taliban regrouped and rebounded, while the Alliance strategy focused on winning the hearts and minds of the tribal. And it’s no wonder that our casualties have gone up tenfold. We have become occupation forces without teeth.

We went from prioritizing the lives of Americans over the lives of terrorists, to giving them equal weight, to prioritizing the lives of terrorists—to finally prioritizing the sentiments of Afghan tribal leaders over over the lives of US and Coalition soldiers. That’s not a figure of speech, it’s the attitude embodied in the Rules of Engagement, which forces us to take down watchtowers and denies air and artillery support to soldiers when they are attacked near an Afghan village. Today American soldiers are dying in order not to offend Al Qaeda’s hosts. That is how low we have fallen.

The enemy knows that all he has to do is hide behind civilians to neuter our air power and artillery … Al-Qaeda and the Taliban know that they can move in plain sight with weapons in hand and that our soldiers can’t fire until they do. …

Afghanistan is not going to be civilized any time soon. Most of it is stuck in the dark ages and will go on being stuck there for the foreseeable future. Democracy is a dead road even in far more advanced Muslim countries. … And as a Muslim region, it is never going to be a place where women have many rights. We could boostrap it until parts of it is up to the level of parts of Pakistan or even parts of Egypt. But those are still countries where 90 percent of women have little more rights than dogs, and that’s only because Mohammed … hated dogs more. There is only one hope for women’s rights in the Muslim world. And that is the abandonment of Islam.

There were three reasons why we went into Afghanistan. First, to kill those who had done this to us. Second, to send a message to anyone who would attack us that they would pay a terrible price for it. Third, to make it clear that our reach was worldwide. We had accomplished the first and second goals within a year of the onset of Operation Freedom. But … we stayed to open girls’ schools and provide electricity and stabilize Karzai’s coalition and do all the other little Nation Building things that our charitable little hearts told us needed to be done. And as we set to doing these things full time, we forgot why we were there and how to break the enemy … Worst of all, we had fallen into the deadly trap of thinking that our goal was to make the natives love us

Our commitment to nation building once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Not because we were physically weak, but because we were morally weak. Too married to the myth of global stability, unable to prioritize our lives and welfare over those of enemy civilians …

Andrew C. McCarthy also deplores the social-work misnamed a war by which the US military aim to “help” that corruptocracy at the expense of valuable American lives and scarce American money. In his view this isn’t even nation-building; it’s what he calls “post-nation” building.

Last week in the northern province of Faryab, two more American soldiers were murdered by one of the police officers they are in Afghanistan to train. … That brings to 17 the number of U.S. troops killed in just the last four months by the Afghan security forces they are mentoring. The total climbs to 22 when the killings of other Western troops are factored in. …

We long ago stopped pursuing the American interests that brought us to that hellhole. We came to dismantle al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts. We’ve stayed — and stayed, and stayed — to make life better for a population that despises us.

The mounting military casualties do not account for at least seven humanitarian-aid workers also murdered in recent days by rampaging Afghan Muslims — if one may use that double redundancy. The throng of assailants stormed the victims’ U.N. compound in Mazar-e-Sharif after being whipped into the familiar frenzy at Friday prayers. The dead, just like the American soldiers, came to Afghanistan to make life better for Muslims. For their trouble, they were savagely slaughtered, with two treated to decapitation, a jihadist signature. …

General Petraeus is so terrified of what rampaging Afghan Muslims might do next that he could not bring himself to utter a word of criticism for their barbarity. …

The murderous riot did not occur until … the natives were whipped up not just by the fire-breathing Friday imams but by the inflammatory rhetoric of Afghan president Hamid Karzai. …

The exercise in Afghanistan is actually post-nation building, and it’s got little to do with democracy in the Western sense. To the contrary, the final product is meant to reflect the image of its midwife, the craven, morally vacant international community. For principled democracies to form a community with totalitarians and rogues, they have to check their principles at the door. Once that decision is made, how easy it becomes to betray those principles — freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, economic liberty, personal privacy, equality before the law — in a culturally neutral indulgence of Islamist depravity.

So, the architects build a post-nation … They frame the West, its bygone principles, and the pursuit of its interests as affronts to the international community. That community’s vanguard … has little use for the nation-state, aspiring to replace national sovereignty with international humanitarian law — an organic, increasingly sharia-friendly corpus that is said to override any mere nation’s constitution and democratically enacted laws. It is for [this] post-nation that American soldiers die while American taxpayers foot the bill. …

It is abundantly clear that our troops are in Afghanistan primarily “to help the Afghan people.”

And he asks the question the US government should answer if it can:

Why should we give a damn about the Afghan people?

Defeat, actually 0

There is no longer any question of whether an American victory in Afghanistan is possible. It is not.

It becomes plainer every day that what lies ahead is defeat.

The only uncertainty is whether America – aka “the coalition forces” – will manage withdrawal without the appearance of ignominy.

After an initial victory the war has dragged on for eight years. In that time the mightiest military power on earth has been unable to defeat a bunch of primitive, lightly-armed terrorists. Not because it couldn’t, but because it tied its own hands with unrealistic aims, political correctness, and, under Commander-in-Chief Obama, a preference for losing.

At Canada Free Press, Alan Caruba expresses a similar opinion. Here’s part of what he writes:

The war in Afghanistan has been going on for more than eight years as of this writing. Over that period of time I have been against it, for it, against it, for it, and now I return to what my instincts and experience told me all along. It’s over.

That war is lost. Once the Taliban acquired surface-to-air missiles, the primarily advantage our military had was removed. In the past month, the Taliban have shot down two of our helicopters. Any low-flying aircraft will be vulnerable along with all our front-line forces. …

You cannot win a counterinsurgency with local forces if:

you don’t have a significant portion of the population on your side and

those forces do not want to fight.

Afghans don’t like anyone who is not an Afghan and, in many cases, they do not like other Afghans from other tribes. …

The other factor that is a key to the situation is our “ally”, Pakistan. The U.S. has poured billions into Pakistan and they have been supporting the Taliban the whole time; more specifically, the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Agency [has been doing so].

An article in the UK’s Times was picked up by the Washington Post on June 14. The Times article was headlined “Pakistan puppet masters guide the Taliban killers.” It reported that “Pakistan’s own intelligence agency, the ISI, is said to be represented on the Taliban’s war council, the Quetta shura. Up to seven of the 15-man shura are believed to be ISI agents.”

The former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, Amrullah Salah, recently resigned. He concluded that Afghan forces of the government under Hamid Karzai, the US hand-picked president of Afghanistan, would not and could not prevail. Afghanistan has never been a nation by any standard definition. It has always been a nation of tribes.

The Afghanistan conflict has cost the West billions and hundreds of lives. …

When word leaked about Obama’s “rules of engagement” in Afghanistan that essentially put every one of our soldiers and marines at risk, the die was cast.

The combined US-UK force failed to loosen the Taliban’s grip on Marjah, the most recent military engagement. The Afghan forces refused to fight much of the time. The Taliban continue to control the whole of southern Afghanistan.

The Kandahar offensive has been postponed. It was to be waged by American, British, Canadian, and Afghan forces. If that doesn’t tell you that the war in Afghanistan is over, nothing will.

If there is no will to wage war vigorously to bring about victory, nothing can be done for now. This is not to say we will not have to return at some time, but as long as President Obama is in office, that is not an option.

If ever America needs to go back and hit the Taliban again, it should do so swiftly, briefly, and decisively. Under the command of the present feeble, pro-Muslim, anti-American president, that would not be done.

Three As for failure 5

Last night (Thursday April 8, 2010) at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Liz Cheney made a speech all Americans need to hear.

The Washington Post reports:

“It seems to be increasingly clear that there are three prongs in the Obama doctrine: Apologize for America, abandon our allies, and appease our enemies.”

America’s allies, she said, have been met by “humiliation, arrogance and incompetence.” She attacked Obama for the administration’s “shabby” treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and “especially dangerous and juvenile” behavior toward Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

“There is a saying in the Arab world that it’s more dangerous to be America’s friend than it is to be our enemy,” she said. “I fear very much that in the age of Obama, that’s proving to be true.”

She was sharply critical of the administration’s policy toward Iran. “In this administration’s dealings with Iran,” she said, “the deadlines are meaningless, the sanctions worthless and the speeches pointless.”

Apologize … Abandon … Appease. Three As for Obama’s foreign policy failures.

The abandonment of allies (and nuclear deterrence), and the appeasement of enemies may be the most dangerous, but the apologies are the most infuriating. What are these countries that America needs their approbation?

Are they more free?

More just?

More successful?

More innovative?

More trustworthy?

More generous?

More powerful?

More prosperous?

Why should America need to beg or buy their favor?

And one more question:

How about Liz Cheney for President in 2012?

Ingratitude 2

One has to admire the skill with which Obama and Hillary Clinton are handling relations with Iran, China, North Korea, Israel, Britain, Russia, Canada, India, Honduras, Brazil, Czech Republic, Poland, and France. They’re managing to strengthen America’s enemies, weaken its friends, and anger all with great dispatch and – this is the really impressive part – to no discernible end. It’s not as if America’s interests are being served. Nothing selfish like that.

Oh yes – and Afghanistan. There, with thrilling arrogance, and the daring misuse of armed forces, they are demonstrating, through victory after victory, the ultimate impotence of American power.

And are the Afghans grateful? Like hell they are.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

President Hamid Karzai lashed out at his Western backers for the second time in three days, accusing the U.S. of interfering in Afghan affairs and saying the Taliban insurgency would become a legitimate resistance movement if the meddling doesn’t stop.

Mr. Karzai, whose government is propped up by billions of dollars in Western aid and nearly 100,000 American troops fighting a deadly war against the Taliban, made the comments during a private meeting with about 60 or 70 Afghan lawmakers Saturday.

At one point, Mr. Karzai suggested that he himself would be compelled to join the other side —that is, the Taliban—if the parliament didn’t back his controversial attempt to take control of the country’s electoral watchdog from the United Nations …

The Afghan leader seems as mistrustful of the West as ever—and increasingly willing to tap the resentment many ordinary Afghans feel toward the U.S. and its allies. Many here view the coalition as enabling the Afghan government’s widespread corruption, and blame U.S.-led forces for killing too many civilians.

At the same time, Mr. Karzai is working to improve relations with American rivals, such as Iran and China. The result is further strain on an already-tense partnership. …

Associates of Mr. Karzai say the events around last year’s vote left the president feeling betrayed by the West. Those feelings were clear in a speech Mr. Karzai gave Thursday, accusing “foreign embassies,” the U.N. and the European Union of being behind the electoral fraud and of trying to force him into a coalition government with his opponents.

On Saturday, Mr. Karzai went a step further, saying foreign interference in Afghan affairs fueled the insurgency, according to five lawmakers who attended the meeting.

“He said that the only reason that the Taliban and other insurgent groups are fighting the Afghan government is that they see foreigners having the final say in everything,” said one of the lawmakers.

All five lawmakers said Mr. Karzai told those who gathered at the palace that the Taliban’s “revolt will change to resistance” if the U.S. and its allies kept dictating how his government should run. The word “resistance” is a term often used to convey a legitimate struggle against unjust rulers, such as the Mujahedeen’s fight against the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Mr. Karzai’s remarks were the latest sign of the growing rift between the Afghan leader and the U.S., which is pouring troops into the country in a bid to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and win the support of ordinary Afghans.

Key to the surge strategy is restoring the battered domestic reputation of the Karzai administration. President Barack Obama, during a brief visit to Kabul Monday, pressed Mr. Karzai to clean up the pervasive corruption in his government.

If anything, Mr. Obama’s visit appears to have backfired. A businessman with close ties to Mr. Karzai said the Afghan leader was insulted by Mr. Obama’s comments and left with even greater doubts about the American commitment to Afghanistan.

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have an ungrateful puppet!

(Please someone, remind us what the US is in Afghanistan for, what the ultimate aim is, what Afghanistan will look like when that aim is achieved?)

A question of belief 1

The Washington Post reports:

In theory, the Afghan government is in place in Kandahar, but its authority is nominal. Bombings and assassinations have left the government largely isolated behind concrete barricades and blast walls. In the latest burst of violence, a suicide squad struck across the city late Saturday, detonating bombs at a recently fortified prison, the police headquarters and two other sites … At least 30 people were killed.

For the first time in years, however, the U.S. military again has Kandahar in its sights.

American troops are seeking to reclaim the city and surrounding province, where the Taliban has proved resurgent, more than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion forced the group from power. But a visit here last week made clear that American forces will face an insidious enemy that operates mainly in the shadows and exercises indirect control through intimidation and by instilling fear. The provincial governor remains mostly behind barricades. The provincial council has trouble convening because many members have fled to Kabul. The police are viewed as ill-trained, corrupt and possibly in league with criminal gangs.

The environment here [is] more complicated than the one the Marines have encountered in neighboring Helmand province and the town of Marja, where the Afghan government’s presence was nonexistent and where Taliban fighters were massed in large numbers. The Marines took Marja with relative ease, installing a governor handpicked by the Kabul government.

In Kandahar city, residents say, real power rests with Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the council and the younger brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Ahmed Karzai has been accused of vote rigging and involvement in the drug trade, allegations he has consistently denied. The eight judges still working in the city and province live together for security, packed into an impregnable compound, behind gray concrete walls topped with razor wire. …

If Kandahar city is sliding into lawlessness, the surrounding province appears in even worse shape. In the city, the government has retreated behind concrete barricades; in much of the countryside, there is no government presence. …

Haji Raz Mohammed, president of a district council, said he regularly negotiates with the Taliban to prevent its fighters from destroying development projects. “The Taliban is there, the Americans are there, the government is there,” he said, “But nobody is really in control of the district.”

To operate so easily, in the city and the province, the Taliban must rely on some level of local support. …

“The majority of people say they are afraid of the Taliban,” said a paid adviser to the government’s reconciliation commission in Kandahar. “But they are better than the government, because the government is so corrupt.”

We are to understand that “the coalition forces” – ie America and Britain  – will win the war in Afghanistan; that the lives lost and the blood shed to turn Afghanistan into a peaceful democratic country have not been sacrificed in vain. We have to try to believe that Afghanistan will soon have a government that is no more corrupt than most western governments are; that the traditionally warring tribes will from  then on forget their old hatreds and live peacefully with one another; that there will be no, or at least much less, drug trading; that the criminal gangs will become less of a danger; that the police will be well-trained and less corrupt; that the Taliban will give up its passionate warfare and bow to the democratically elected government; that the whole miserable place will become something like Surrey or California.

Or what?

And who can believe it?

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, Muslims, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 14, 2010

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A success or a mess? 0

McCLATCHY reports:

As the U.S. and its allies try to overcome logistical hurdles and rush [?] some 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan in 2010, intelligence officials are warning that the Taliban-led insurgency is expanding and that “time is running out” for the U.S.-led coalition to prove that its strategy can succeed.

‘Succeed’ at what? What will constitute success? Can anyone describe what Afghanistan will look like when ‘the US-led coalition’s strategy’ has succeeded?

The report goes on:

The Taliban have created a shadow “government-in-waiting,” complete with Cabinet ministers, that could assume power if the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai fails, a senior International Security Assistance Force intelligence official said in Kabul, speaking only on the condition of anonymity as a matter of ISAF policy.

As the Obama administration and its European allies face dwindling public and political support for the eight-year-old Afghan war, the Taliban now have what the official called “a full-fledged insurgency” and shadow governors in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, including those in the north, where U.S. and other officials had thought the Islamic extremists posed less of a threat.

The Taliban’s return to the northern provinces, including Baghlan, Kunduz and Taqhar … poses serious security, logistical and political problems for the U.S.-led ISAF and Karzai’s government.

The northern region is under the command of German forces, but they and other European contingents operate under restrictions imposed by their governments that limit offensive operations against the Taliban.

The Taliban now threaten the northern supply route that the ISAF established to supplement the vulnerable routes that run through Pakistan, where the U.S.-backed government is battling its own Islamic extremists and growing sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

The Taliban in northern Afghanistan are sheltering among and recruiting from large communities of Pashtuns — descendants of settlers transplanted from the south in the early 20th century — fueling tensions with the Uzbeks and Tajiks who dominate the region.

At the same time, though, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens and Arabs linked to al Qaida have moved into northern Afghanistan with the Taliban, seeking to carry their jihad to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and alarming Russia, which is grappling with Islamic insurgencies in the republics of Chechnya and Dagestan.

As the Taliban have extended their reach, they’ve also grown more formidable militarily by developing bigger and more effective improvised explosive devices. Insurgents have mounted 7,228 IED attacks so far this year, compared with 81 in 2003, and … the homemade bombs have even destroyed some Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, the most heavily armored U.S. troop transports….

So will success be a state of peaceful, happy co-existence among the Pashtuns, Uzbeks, and Tajiks? How likely is this?

Why are they in conflict with each other? What must change so that the ‘tensions’ between them will suddenly end? How can this be brought about?

What will make the Taliban abandon its intentions? What will have changed for them?

If by some remote chance the Karzai government found itself with an effective native fighting force, what would it do to achieve a pacified Afghanistan? Or will there be perpetual internecine war?

What might the US have gained by the time its army is pulled out? What does it want to gain?

We beg for enlightenment. Would someone who knows the answers please give them to us? We see nothing but a mess into which American troops have been plunged for no discernible reason, to fight and die with one arm tied behind their back, so to speak, for no defined or even definable goal.

US offering terms of capitulation to the Taliban? 3

While we all thought Obama was just waiting around for fate to lift any requirement for a decision on the war in Afganistan from his shoulders, it seems that his administration has been secretly crawling to the Taliban, trying to negotiate peace terms that would leave the Taliban in power in parts of Afghanistan – and being turned down.

From Islam In Action:

“US negotiators had offered the Taliban leadership through Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakkil (former Taliban foreign minister) that if they accept the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, they would be given the governorship of six provinces in the south and northeast,” a senior Afghan Foreign Ministry official told requesting anonymity for not being authorized to talk about the sensitive issue with the media.

He said the talks, brokered by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, continued for weeks at different locations including the Afghan capital Kabul. …

A Taliban spokesman admitted indirect talks with the US. …

Afghan and Taliban sources said Mutawakkil and Mullah Mohammad Zaeef, a former envoy to Pakistan who had taken part in previous talks, represented the Taliban side in the recent talks.

The US Embassy in Kabul denied any such talks.

“No, we are not holding any talks with Taliban,” embassy spokeswoman Cathaline Haydan told IOL from Kabul.

Asked whether the US has offered any power-sharing formula to Taliban, she said she was not aware of any such offer.

“I don’t know about any specific talks and the case you are reporting is not true.”

Sources say that for the first time the American negotiators did not insist on the “minus-Mullah Omer” formula, which had been the main hurdle in previous talks between the two sides.

The Americans reportedly offered Taliban a form of power-sharing in return for accepting the presence of foreign troops.

“America wants 8 army and air force bases in different parts of Afghanistan in order to tackle the possible regrouping of Al-Qaeda network,” the senior [Afghan] official said.

He named the possible hosts of the bases as Mazar-e-Sharif and Badakshan in north, Kandahar in south [? – see below], Kabul, Herat in west, Jalalabad in northeast and Ghazni and Faryab in central Afghanistan.

In exchange, the US offered Taliban the governorship of the southern provinces of Kandahar [? -see above] , Zabul, Hilmand and Orazgan as well as the northeastern provinces of Nooristan and Kunar.

These provinces are the epicenter of resistance against the US-led foreign forces and are considered the strongholds of Taliban.

Orazgan and Hilmand are the home provinces of Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Omer and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“But Taliban did not agree on that,” said the senior official.

“Their demand was that America must give a deadline for its pull out if it wants negotiations to go on.”