Friday, January 29, 2010

Britain and the United States defeated in Afghanistan

The year is 2010 and it has been almost nine years since the United States and her allies invaded Afghanistan searching for that elusive mastermind of the September 11 attacks. It was supposed to be different, righteous and it was supposed to bring change to Afghanistan permanently. Instead we see today a defeat that nobody will acknowledge. As John Kennedy once said, "Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan". Today we have an article in the Guardian blaring out loudly, "Revealed: UN in secret peace talks with the Taliban". Earlier we heard people saying that the Taliban must be paid off, to split the more radical elements off of it. Does this not sound ludicrous? Who would have imagined in 2003 that British or American officials would officially ponder negotiations with the Taleban? What has been accomplished in nine years there apart from untold death and destruction? The answer is - absolutely nothing.

What could possibly explain Hamid Karzai's recent visit to Britain and his photo-op with Gordon Brown on the BBC's Hardtalk? Has he come to plead with Britain not to withdraw? Perhaps to convey a message from the Taleban? Everyday we hear stories of British soldiers, many of them boys more than men, being blown to pieces in Afghanistan. The newspapers carry a short, one line quote from their commanding officers. It is almost predictable, "so on and so forth, they will never be forgotten, etc, etc". Nobody even bothers reading these stories as they trickle in, in fact living in London you wouldn't even think that British soldiers are fighting anywhere, it is simply not the concern of the average person here. And this is intentionally cultivated.

Over the past few months a concerted media campaign has been showing stories of what its like for "the boys" over there. I speculated a few weeks ago about whether they were gearing up for a withdrawal. This reality is now closer than ever. The Afghan war is ending, and whilst nobody will admit it, the Taliban have won.

1 comment:

NonArab-Arab said...

You're basically right I believe. I couldn't help but compare your point to what just happened on the Yemeni-Saudi border. A bunch of local rebels outgunned the Yemeni AND Saudi militaries even with US assistance. The Houthis weren't after occupying any chunk of the Saudis territory, but they did need to give them a bloody nose so they'd leave them alone in the future they hope. Having accomplished that they offered a ceasefire and withdrew. The Saudis, humiliated and proven militarily incapable, decided to take the occasion to...declare victory! Woo-hoo! I imagine we'll see the western powers in Afghanistan do the same eventually.

The sad thing is, I do genuinely believe that given there was a real justifiable reason to go in back in 2001 (yes, I know, I'm ignoring the long history of colonial meddling and by multiple powers including the US earlier, but still a moral case could be made even if imperfect after the 9/11 strikes), it could have been different. If the US had gone in and after it's quick victory put in 10 times as much money into infrastructure development as it did into the military side of things, they could have used those first couple years of relative peace to create an entirely different dynamic of genuine help. Instead, they blew it ten times over, and just to add insult to injury they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq too. What a mess.