Zan, Zar, Zamin 8

Last weekend, on August 6 – as reported  here –

U.S. Special Operations troops were closing in on a secret Taliban summit thought to include a high-value commander in Afghanistan’s rugged Tangi Valley when they ran into an insurgent patrol that pinned them down.

They asked for reinforcements, so-

Before dawn …  members of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six packed into a twin-rotor Chinook transport helicopter and rushed to the rescue …

As their Chinook was about to land … an insurgent shot it out of the sky with a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, in the deadliest attack endured by the American military in a decade of war in Afghanistan. Thirty U.S. special forces members were killed including members of SEAL Team 6 [the team that killed Osama bin Laden].

Immediate questions arise:

How did the Taliban pull it off? Why were the SEALs packed into an aging, slow-moving Chinook helicopter flying at low altitude? Were they on a mission only they could pull off or were they being overused to save a failed Afghan strategy? …

A strategy to achieve what? To change Afghanistan?

The impossibility of changing Afghanistan in the least degree, let alone turning it into a modern democratic state, could not be more clearly understood and vividly explained than it is by Daniel Greenfield in an article at Front Page:

Pedophilia, forced marriages, blasphemy trials and drug dealing. That is the real Afghanistan. The one that lingers on even when the Taliban are chased into the hills. That cannot be changed by American intervention because this is who its people are.

We might have been able to save Afghanistan from the Taliban, but we can’t save it from the Afghans. From the quarreling clans and warlords, the age old customs and the Islamic mores. Beyond a sliver of Western educated men and women in Kabul lies a land of a thousand cruelties and a million knives. With a vendetta around every corner and murder in every heart.

There is no Afghanistan, only a thousand divisions. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that replaced the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is an internationally funded mirage. A multi-billion dollar fund with its own flag and its own mercenaries. And because these mercenaries won’t fight, our soldiers go out to fight and die in their place.

Beneath that flag there is no unity. There are only divisions. Sunnis and Shiites. Pashtuns, Tajiks and Hazaras. Men and women. Groups with nothing in common except the Koran and the knife. …

Afghan jails are filled with women fleeing abusive marriages. Fleeing home carries with it a ten year jail sentence. The analogy to escaped slaves is as obvious and inescapable as a Muslim marriage. Adultery is the catch-all charge that can be leveled at a woman at any time, married or unmarried, a young girl or an elderly woman.

The Afghan man has three tools of power. Zan, Zar and Zamin. Women, gold and land. A man with many women will be able to breed many sons and expand his own clan. A man with a great deal of gold will be able to buy weapons and take his share of the drug and human trafficking networks. And a man with much land will have his own kingdom.

This elemental tribal power defines Afghanistan. Women are at the bottom of this pyramid. But so are minority ethnic groups. …

And on top of the bubbling kettle is Islam. No religion would be quite as fit for this backward tribalism as a religion that began as a warlord’s cult. Islam does not unify Afghanistan. For all that the Islamists imagine a Caliphate, Islam adds only another layer of division. Ethnic divisions in Afghanistan are also religious divisions. And Islam adds religious sanction to the oppression of women and the massacres of rivals.  …

Islam’s influence has only embedded the savagery deeper beneath its dusty skin. Everything that is bad in Afghanistan has its supporting verse in the Koran. The culture of the tribal raid, its emphasis on victory as proof of divine sanction and its contempt for women– finds its echo in the Koran. …

The tribal raider is unable to imagine any higher idea than the honor of his family. But Islam adds the idea of the meta-tribal identity. The Islamic Ummah as the ultimate tribe. It is an idea that allowed Mohammed and his successors to loot and pillage their way across much of the world. And the world is bleeding from a million wounds, stabbed, cut and pierced by the followers of that idea.

20th century Islamists took the ugly tribal feud and globalized it. They took backward places like Afghanistan and turned them into platforms for a global war. We may be able to save ourselves from the puppet masters behind this shadow war, but we cannot save the Afghans from themselves.

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?