Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan

17
Apr
11

Finish the Job: How the War in Afghanistan Can Be Won

By Paul D Miller
Foreign Affairs, January-February 2011, Volume 90

Pessimism abounds in Afghanistan. Violence, nato casualties, corruption, drug production, and public disapproval in the United States are at record levels. Ahmed Rashid, a prominent Pakistani journalist and an expert on the region, declared the U.S. mission in Afghanistan a failure in his scathing 2008 book, Descent Into Chaos. Seth Jones, the leading U.S. scholar on the Taliban insurgency, has argued that the United States had an opening to make a difference in Afghanistan after 2001, but that it “squandered this extraordinary opportunity.” U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates attempted to manage expectations when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in January 2009. “If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose,” he argued, “because nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience, and money.” U.S. policymakers and the public increasingly doubt that the war can be won. These assessments are based on real and credible concerns about the rising insurgency, the drug trade, endemic corruption, and perennial government weakness.
Continue reading ‘Finish the Job: How the War in Afghanistan Can Be Won’

14
Oct
10

INSIDE TALIBANISTAN

INSIDE TALIBANISTAN

FROM A DISTANCE, YOU MIGHT THINK THE TALIBAN IS A MONOLITHIC ENEMY. FAR FROM IT.

By Peter Bergen, Biran Fishman, and Katherine Tiedemann

After a summer ot souring reports on Ihe state of the war in Afghanistan, the “surge” of 30,000 additonal U.S. troops now in place. And not a moment to soon: U.S. President Barack Obama has already pledged to make a decision in July 2011 about how many trops bring home. So the window of time in which to contain or sufficiently weaken the taliban is rapidly closing. The problem is, the “Taliban” doesn’t really exist-or least, not in the way the term is normally used.

The original movement was a pakistan-supported militia built around a core of well-armed Afghan religious students (“Taliban” means “students” in Pashtun) that took power in the mid-1990s. But today the term has become meaningless, used to describe virtually any militant organization in Afghanistan and many in Pakistan-though they sometimes diverge widely in their allegiances, targets, and strategies.

Here’s a guide to understanding one’s enemies: not the Taliban, but the Talibans.
Continue reading ‘INSIDE TALIBANISTAN’

12
Oct
10

Obama’s Wars

Bob Woodward, Obama’s Wars, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010

13
Nov
09

How the US Funds the Taliban

By Aram Roston
The Nation, 11/11/09

On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime’s ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat’s right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul.

But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997.
Continue reading ‘How the US Funds the Taliban’

07
Oct
09

Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace: State

“The tribes consider the king rather differently to the Tajiks, the latter vesting the king with many powers, whereas for the tribes he has limited prerogatives; the tribes are largely selfgoverning.” (Elphinstone 1815)

State and nation

A nation is, wrote Benedict Anderson (1991), ‘an imagined political community’. Although the state exists as a political entity with recognized territory and institutions of governance, the nation exists in people’s heads and provides a sense of belonging. Nationalism, the sense of attachment to a nation, has often been a driving force for state formation; a force that in recent times has had so many negative associations that it is hard to remember it was once viewed positively.

Continue reading ‘Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace: State’

06
Oct
09

Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace: One size fits all-Afghanistan in the new world order

Reasons for war

A pickup bearing formless, faceless women drives into the stadium. They get out and walk to their execution. The crowd looks on. Overlaying all is heavy music, heralding death.
Continue reading ‘Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace: One size fits all-Afghanistan in the new world order’

05
Oct
09

Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace: Ideology and difference

“In Afghan history the communists had an ideology and the Taliban had an ideology, they were fighting for something they believed in. It is good to believe, to have an aim. You didn’t see that with the mujahideen, or even now. In the communist time the people in key positions had just a few possessions, they didn’t want to misuse government property, or to have bribes. It was the same at the beginning with the Taliban. Now, the government does not have a strategy, an ideology, a goal. This is a disaster. Where is the sense of value, the spirit of building a country, the honour?” (Exgovernment employee, now NGO worker, Kabul, 2003)

Continue reading ‘Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace: Ideology and difference’




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