Skip to main content

On Sunday in western Afghanistan, thirty Taliban fighters defected to the government they had spent 6 years fighting.  Their commander, Mullah Abdul Kabir, proceeded to call on the government to build a clinic and schools in the district they had operated out of.  They also asked that foreigners no longer be allowed to search their homes.(Xinhuanet)

There is a recurring theme here.

The promise of developmental aid also brought the Pashtun Shinwari tribe together against the Taliban, although there has been some infighting lately pertaining to old fights.

In Kandahar province, American-backed militias are being raised.  However, these militias are not fighting for cash or even weapons- they are being raised to secure their territories, and in return they get- can you guess?- developmental aid.

Greg Mortenson might just approve.

Achieving overall victory in Afghanistan is probably not possible- it is, after all, an unconventional war that can only be ended by the Afghans.  However, the deadliest weapon against the Taliban and al Qaeda is being used more and more often; the promise of a better tomorrow brought through development, especially schools and health clinics.  Irrigation and road projects are great as well.

This is a war where destroying the enemy is not only impossible, but not enough to win.  We must also help the Afghans build because the future they build will be theirs.

The Taliban have not gotten this memo.  Despite their "attempts" to "moderate" the response the Taliban came up with to McChrystal's plan of securing Kandahar is to blow up dozens of Pashtuns in Kandahar city.  That is the future the Taliban offer Afghanistan.  The best weapon against cruelty is kindness, the best weapon against such hard and harsh power is soft and smart power.  The promise of development could turn many more fighters away from the Taliban if used correctly.  This is especially so when the fighters/locals are the ones who would be doing the actual work, for they can then take "ownership" of the projects.

This pertains not just to Afghanistan or its Pashtun population, but to the wider AfPak strategy- it pertains to this country that's not on any map called "Pashtunistan".

Originally posted to Setrak on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 09:47 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you. I appreciate the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, OIL GUY, Setrak

    balanced quality of your analysis.

  •  I never trust ceasefires... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orange County Liberal, Setrak

    I think it's just a case for the losing side to re-stock their weapons cache and maybe get a little R&R for their fighters.

    These Taliban fighters defect just by saying so? Don't give up their weapons or give up their non-defecting former Taliban comrades and they're to be trusted why? And their don't want their homes searched?

    Politics is like playing Asteroids - You go far enough to the left and you end up on the right. Or vice-versa.

    by Jonze on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:05:16 AM PDT

    •  Would you want your home searched by foreigners? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis, Jonze, dle2GA

      Pashtunwali is all about a man's honor, and that honor is often violated by the searching of homes.  But thankfully McChrystal has some understanding of this, and is limiting the controversial night-raids to operations that can be carried out with Afghans.(Reuters)

      While you do raise a good point- that they could turn against the government later- Mullah Kabir just put a big target on himself.  You're now not the only one skeptical about trusting Kabir and his men.  Furthermore, such projects will take time and therefore are better tools than cash payments- they can't just pocket the projects today as they can with cash and turn around tomorrow.

      "Thanks for this Edition of Warporn Daily" -greenskeeper

      by Setrak on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:10:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  give up their weapons?! (0+ / 0-)

      The entire point in bringing these people over to the side of the government—of citizenship—is to have them contribute towards the security of their neighbourhood. Nobody in the government would even consider demanding that they disarm. Keep in mind that this isn't Cleveland. The security situation is very much more complex there.

       
      "These Taliban fighters defect just by saying so?"

      Unless you sat in on the meetings, it's likely there's far more detail that you and i don't know about.

      look out honey 'cause i'm using technology
      ain't got time to make no apology
      – Stooges, Search and Destroy

      by subtropolis on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:27:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So they can be seen as the good guys... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orange County Liberal

        So when they switch back to the Taliban (they never really left) folks will think "These are not bad guys, they just want the evil Americans out".

        What are they giving up to show they are serious? Not arms, not their former comrades or actionable intel - You just have to take them at their word that they're not going to shoot you in the back?

        Politics is like playing Asteroids - You go far enough to the left and you end up on the right. Or vice-versa.

        by Jonze on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:43:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  nice diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, pvlb, Setrak

    as usual; i think this policy is working AND is a big deterrent to the bullshit republican canard about dems being SOFT

    i don't mind if arlen remains the senior senator from pennsylvania IF the voters in the DEMOCRATIC primary choose him BUT until then...........

    by primaryarlen on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:36:11 AM PDT

  •  I hope this policy works out, but (0+ / 0-)

    I can't see how it became our job to build or re-build parts of Afghanastan.  I favor a containment policy re radical islam.

    •  IT HAS GO HAND IN HAND (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis, bear83

      otherwise, in the long-term, none of these gains matter one iota; the policy has to be comprehensive in scope

      i don't mind if arlen remains the senior senator from pennsylvania IF the voters in the DEMOCRATIC primary choose him BUT until then...........

      by primaryarlen on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:42:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's just that there are so many countries (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orange County Liberal, Jonze

        where the radical islamists are.  Afghanastan, Pakistan, Yemen, and so on.  I would favor spending money and the war in AF/PAk more is it was tied in with keeping radical islamists out of the west.

        •  It is a neat trick. (0+ / 0-)

          Want aid to rebuild - plan attacks on America.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  

          How many billions will America spend to rebuild Afghanistan when American schools are crumbling?

          And if radical islamists leave AfPak for Africa - maybe finally Africa will get the attention it needs.  I mean they might not have oil, but they could have America-hating extremists...

          Politics is like playing Asteroids - You go far enough to the left and you end up on the right. Or vice-versa.

          by Jonze on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:59:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  but you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          subtropolis

          are not solving anything with only half of a policy; that is just treading water

          i don't mind if arlen remains the senior senator from pennsylvania IF the voters in the DEMOCRATIC primary choose him BUT until then...........

          by primaryarlen on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:03:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  it cannot be contained (0+ / 0-)

      Pursuing a policy of containment alone is doomed to failure. What we're doing over there is giving local government a leg up. No, it's not our "job" to do so, it's the smart thing to do.

      look out honey 'cause i'm using technology
      ain't got time to make no apology
      – Stooges, Search and Destroy

      by subtropolis on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:32:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Setrak (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis, bear83, Setrak, dle2GA

    your knowledge and reporting on this part of the world is invaluable.  I can't thank you enough.  I wholeheartedly agree.  What lost us Afghanistan to the Taliban in the first place was not following up with the 'a better life' part after the Soviet Union withdrew in defeat following "Charlie Wilson's War".

    Greg Mortenson would be happy.  I'm pretty sure he and the Central Asia Institute were happy to receive a gift of some of the Nobel Peace Prize funds awarded to President Obama as well.

    For anyone who hasn't read Three Cups of Tea, it's a must-read to get a context for what part schools can play in 'winning hearts and minds' in this part of the world, and for creating peace and a better future.

    Thanks for another informative diary.

    •  Is Greg Mortenson a colonialist? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orange County Liberal, Arza

      Is he in favor of military solutions to Afghanistan?   Does putting the cover of "aid" over your military operations make a difference?

      There is a world of difference in offering aid when that aid can be refused and offering "aid" when the military is just around the corner in case they don't make the right decision.

      •  that's utterly simplistic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pvlb

        Obama inherited this clusterfuck, first of all. Kudos to him for at least taking this in the direction it needs to go in order to have any hope at all that the foreign troops can be withdrawn without allowing the government to collapse.

        I could go on but have to split. I'll just say that you do not seem to be predisposed for a job dealing with foreign policy. Life isn't as two-dimensional as you are try to make it out to be.

        look out honey 'cause i'm using technology
        ain't got time to make no apology
        – Stooges, Search and Destroy

        by subtropolis on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:08:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They can have peace if... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orange County Liberal, Johnny Q, Arza

    They can have peace if they give up and do what we want.   If they are sufficiently compliant we will allow our stooges search their homes.   Plus we will throw in a few trinkets, schools and things.

    The new colonialism sounds like the old colonialism!   They will still be run from Washington.   They did not like being run from Moscow or before that London.   Surely they will understand that being run by Washington is better, right?

    I am curious.   What event will make you say: "That's enough, we lost, lets withdraw"?

    A Dien Bien Phu?   Another 10 years?   Withdrawal of more American allies?   Increasing condemnation of the war from around the world?   Further destruction of the US economy?   Further destruction of the US military?   At some point you must say it's over!   What is that point?

    •  At some point the left will have to stop (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      killjoy, bear83, pvlb, Setrak

      fighting the Vietnam war and move on to the current one.

      •  Please explain that one. (0+ / 0-)
        •  It means (2+ / 0-)

          we have to step up our opposition to this clusterfuck the way we opposed the Vietnam clusterfuck.

          At least that's the only sense in which I could condone fighting this war.

          You may think that. I couldn't possibly comment.-- Francis Urqhart

          by Johnny Q on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:13:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Viet Cong were a well supported native (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          subtropolis

          insurgency; the Taliban in Afghanistan are not. The Viet Cong and North Vietnam had serious material support from first world nations; the Taliban do not. Vietnam did not have a scheduled exit strategy; Afghanistan does. 2/3ds of Afghans support the US presence; I doubt the same could have been said of Vietnam, but I don't know of any polling done there. http://news.bbc.co.uk/... (27 page pdf).

          •  They own the heroin trade (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orange County Liberal

            They have all the cash they need to conduct their war with the US. all an army needs is. Money. Munitions and warm  bodies can be found through that means.  

            the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

            by Salo on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:26:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The Taliban are not? (4+ / 0-)

            The Taliban are not a native insurgency?   Then what are they?  

            Are they well supported?   They sure have a lot of money from supporters in the Islamic world and the drug trade.   They have an ample supply of volunteers coming from around the world.

            The Viet Cong and North Vietnam had serious material support from first world nations.

            The proper term for the Communist world at that time was "second world".

            Any exit strategy that is conditional on unlikely events is not an exit strategy!

            Polling in wartime?   Any Afghan who is still alive knows how to answers pollsters.   When the US polls, we get positive results.   When the Taliban polls ;-) they get positive results.   How do you explain that?

            •  Native support. The Shining Path were all (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              subtropolis

              Peruvians but had practically no native support, about on the level the Taliban have in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union was a First world military power; any attempt to say otherwise is revisionism of the first order. Any exit strategy that doesn't make allowances for changes in circumstances is incompetent. It's not like setting up a business plan. Find me a Taliban Poll. Please.

              •  If you are going to use the term... (3+ / 0-)

                If you are going to use the term "first world" then you should know it's origin back when they were coined.

                The "first world" referred to the non-communist wealthy nations of the world.   This generally meant the US, Europe, Canada, Japan, etc.

                The "second world" referred to the communist bloc.   That was the USSR, China, Eastern Europe, etc.

                The "third world" referred to anyone else.   These were generally the poor nations of the world.

                These terms have largely out lived their usefulness since the fall of communism.   But to refer to the USSR and China as "first world" during the Vietnam War era is just wrong.

                •  mea culpa over technical poli-sci terminology (0+ / 0-)

                  If you want to nit pic and avoid the actual issue (that a world class power supported the Vietnamese militarily) that's fine with me. I'll talk with someone who'll stick with meat.

              •  I agree (and disagree) with you both (0+ / 0-)

                I do so enjoy these sorts of conversations.

                 
                "The Soviet Union was a First world military power;"

                I think you may be confusing the term with what it came to mean. The "Second World" did, indeed, refer to the Soviet Bloc. Later, when it became obvious that the "First World" nations were clearly wealthier overall, that term came to be used more generally to describe that wealth and power (relative to the poorest nations).

                I think what you were trying to say is that the Soviet Union was no slouch when it came to the technologies of war. They certainly did give the United States a run for its money.

                look out honey 'cause i'm using technology
                ain't got time to make no apology
                – Stooges, Search and Destroy

                by subtropolis on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:51:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I get it... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Orange County Liberal

        You don't like my mentioning of Dein Bien Phu.   In that case replace "Dein Bien Phu" with "Massacre of Elphinstone's Army".   Does that meet with your approval?

      •  Setrak is by no means a reliable author... (0+ / 0-)

        ...35 killed today in Kandahar with a coordinated Taliban attack. Perhaps you could say that's good news in some way.

        the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

        by Salo on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:17:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That was actually yesterday, (0+ / 0-)

          and I mentioned it in this diary.  Thanks.

          "Thanks for this Edition of Warporn Daily" -greenskeeper

          by Setrak on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:20:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Alright yesterday. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orange County Liberal

            Fuck me, you can get better idea about the combat looking at that site than anything I've yet seen from your diary offensive.

            the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

            by Salo on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:23:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  that's ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

          So, are you saying that you demand that Setrak keep you apprised of everything that's happening in the region? WTF?

          ...35 killed today in Kandahar with a coordinated Taliban attack. Perhaps you could say that's good news in some way.

          And a whole bunch of other shit happened, besides. There's lots going on over there. The next time i catch you posting that you've had a good day or some random thing is "good", i'll be sure to dig up something in the news that will utterly disprove your selfish assertion.

          look out honey 'cause i'm using technology
          ain't got time to make no apology
          – Stooges, Search and Destroy

          by subtropolis on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:57:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  ah yes, we will pillage Afghanistan (0+ / 0-)

      We will rob her of all her treasures. And then we will flood her with our own people, to lord it over the natives.

      Dude, do you have any idea how poor Afghanistan is? Yes, it was once a flourishing economy, but that was long ago. It is most certainly not a juicy target for greedy colonialists today. Yes, there are many minerals that might someday—decades from now—be mined but don't kid yourself that that is the goal here.

      look out honey 'cause i'm using technology
      ain't got time to make no apology
      – Stooges, Search and Destroy

      by subtropolis on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:42:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're confusing the wars of the (0+ / 0-)

      early 20th century about empire, colonies, and hegemony with the early 21st century wars that are essentially civil wars about Modernity- about settling pre-Modern ethnic scores and the modernization of rights and the form of government.

      True, the two things are pretty mixed up most of the 20th century.   But the 20th century saw the world whittle the ten major empires (Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, China, Japan, the U.S.A.) plus various minor empire projects down to a much smaller number.  These days we have Russia and China as the last major real empires, with the U.S.A. (and in part the E.U.) as the pseudoempire that the world maintains and employs to counter them.  

      Real empires meaning governments that have and want permanent full control of societies not their own.  Beijing wanting to keep Tibet, Sinkiang, and Manchuria for Han Chinese exploitation, for example.  Russia likewise exploitively rules a number of peoples/societies not ethnically Russian whose home territories make up at least two thirds the land area of present Russia.

      The American involvement in Afghanistan, for whatever reasons it has occurred, is in part responsible for rather a lot of political activity, sorting out, and evolution in Central Asia and Afghanistan/Pakistan and indirectly India.  A lot of modernization previously not even attempted or discussed was attempted in all these countries in the past few years.  Most advances have been minimized or suppressed by various reactionary forces, but there's a sense regionally that progress toward more real democracy, more Modern values, and modern economies and modern quality of life is many respects but a matter of time.

      I don't think there is support in the American electorate for staying actively involved in Afghanistan's day to day conflicts after Al Qaeda is destroyed.  That's why the U.S. is not an empire- it walks away after the end of wars, to the extent it can.  And prepares for the next battle(s) even farther from home.

  •  To dome extent you ought to balance out (2+ / 0-)

    You analysis with US and British casualties.

    http://www.icasualties.org/...

    It's in the interests of understanding what cost  these captures and killings are being purchased.

    Additionally the Taliban is transforming itself into a narcotics gang. As we know from Columbia and Mexico war with these gangs is never ending. Indeed retired allies end up working for the gangs once they see how much they can profit from switching sides. War for the Pathan is business venture too.

    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

    by Salo on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:08:34 AM PDT

    •  About the transition from (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis

      religious fanatics to narco-gangs, I don't disagree much there.  That's why we're seeing such a focus on the areas adjoining the Helmand river- most of the opium is grown at the river bend, and most of the population is alongside the river.

      "Thanks for this Edition of Warporn Daily" -greenskeeper

      by Setrak on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:19:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Always Appreciate Your Diaries (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis

    Thanks for keeping us posted.

    I think you're absolutely right about developmental aid.  If Bush had had the brains to spend all that Iraq money on Iraqi run projects, there would have been many fewer young men with nothing to lose wandering around Iraq.

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:33:19 AM PDT

  •  Declare "Victory." Leave posthaste. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eiron


    "Do your taxpayers a favor, and leave him alone." (My State Assembly Rep, Marc Pocan, to Denver's City Atty before 2008 DNC)

    by ben masel on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:39:08 PM PDT

    •  Have a parade, a little ticker tape (0+ / 0-)

      Maybe some commemorative postage stamps, plant a few predator drones on VFW lawns.  

      Those who hear not the music-think the dancers mad

      by Eiron on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:23:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site