Finally, good news
November 9, 2001 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Finally, good news in the war in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance has captured the city of Mazar-e sharif. "Afghan rebel commanders proclaimed tonight they have captured the provincial capital of Mazar-e Sharif and have routed its Taliban defenders."

Northern Alliance forces entered the city quickly after winning a fierce battle at a bakery(!?) between the two airports that had served as an alliance base until the Taliban took the city three years ago.
posted by rabbit (36 comments total)
 
Why should we care about the Northern Alliance?
posted by moss at 3:52 PM on November 9, 2001


Because they are our most important ally on the ground in afghanistan. duh
posted by rabbit at 3:57 PM on November 9, 2001


Actually, the Northern Alliance is a bunch of deposed criminals that just happen to also want the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan. They are not are allies as much as they are an uneasy temporary partnership.

And the "duh" really helps to take this thread to a new low.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:00 PM on November 9, 2001


Heh, I think America will need all the help it needs on the ground.. The Northern Alliance isn't all bad, just some, well, quite a few. The Taleban isn't all bad either, some are, but not all. The problem is that Afghanistan was so screwed by the Soviets that nobody could rule it all that well..
posted by Mossy at 4:08 PM on November 9, 2001


And of course, I set him up for something like a "duh" with my immediate and unargued dismissal. Sorry about that. So here's an argument:

Given that our goal in this war is to reduce the terrorist threat against the United States, would it really be useful to replace the Taliban with the Northern Alliance? From what I know of them, they seem just as likely to harbor terrorists in the future as the Taliban is.
posted by moss at 4:14 PM on November 9, 2001


Well, he asked a loaded question and was basically trolling for an argument. It's quite obvious to any rational person why we should care if the Northern Alliance are making gains The Northern Alliance are our allies. Call it whatever you want if ally isn't a p.c. enough term for you. The U.S. has been helping them and vice versa. We are not neutral towards them and they are not our enemies so ally is a perfectly logical term.
posted by rabbit at 4:16 PM on November 9, 2001


moss- that's true, but from what i understand there will be representatives from all the tribes in the new government if the taliban regime is removed. This victory in the city was vital because the U.S. would now have access to supply lines in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Sorry if i offended anyone with the "duh" comment
posted by rabbit at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2001


rabbit: "Because they are our most important ally on the ground in afghanistan. duh"

DUH, indeed!

We have done this before. We support one group of rebels to stop a tyrannical empire that threatened to threaten our shores, only to see those rebels replace the previous empire, and use our own wealth and resources to build a new tyrannical empire. We have done this repeatedly.

This is Qwerty. Replacing the Taliban with the Northern Alliance makes as much sense as eating a cat to chase the mouse.

"...I don't know why she swallowed the fly.. she's dead of course."

America will not fall due to terrorism: we learn not from our own history - THAT shall be our undoing. The only resolution I want to see of this "war" is for the American Flag to have fifty-one stars on it. If you want something done right, you do it yourself. One does not liberate land only to give it up to more slavers.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:22 PM on November 9, 2001


Yes, though that's happened before, there have been many times when we made an alliance with a group of rebels who didn't come back to threaten our shores.
posted by rabbit at 4:26 PM on November 9, 2001


Yes, instead of one totalitarian, murderous group of tribal warmongers, let’s root for another group of totalitarian, murderous tribal warmongers. As any “rational” person would, apparently.

“we made an alliance with a group of rebels who didn't come back to threaten our shores.”

The ends justify the means for you and most of US history. Yet people wonder why it’s such a hated entity.
posted by raaka at 4:47 PM on November 9, 2001


I really don't care if it's hated or not. The fact remains that any country that criticizes us has far more skeletons in their own closet, and it's merely a projection of their own failures.
posted by rabbit at 4:58 PM on November 9, 2001


The fact remains that any country that criticizes us has far more skeletons in their own closet, and it's merely a projection of their own failures.

Whoa. Even if that were true, it's not relevant. I don't buy raaka's invective either, but that's because it's hard to see how you can say the U.S. believes the ends justify the means -- given that certain ends are unacceptable, we've employed only those means that appear necessary in order to avoid them (though granted this isn't an exact science).

But that doesn't mean we're somehow above criticism, not by a long shot. We may be wrong in our estimation of what ends are likely to occur, and we may be wrong in our estimation of what means are necessary. And we damn well should care if we're hated -- not because of any putative guilt we might have, but because that hatred is very, very costly.
posted by mattpfeff at 5:07 PM on November 9, 2001


People will always hate the U.S. as long as it is number one. I'm not going to appeal to the logic which has led people to hate the United States because I don't agree with it. It's the same kind of logic that causes arabs to think the Israelis are responsible for 9/11 and Israelis are the terrorists. The point I make is that people will always hate the United States because it is human nature, just like people will always hate the popular kids in school. Whether the reasons is legitiment or not for people hating the U.S., the fact remains i don't care if they hate us or not. The important thing is just to know who hates us, so we can keep an eye on them.

I really don't care what we have to do to win.
If the Northen Alliance is doing the dirty work for us I'm all for it. Like I said before, there will be a broad based government when this is all over with representatives from all the tribes formed by afghanistan's exiled king.
posted by rabbit at 5:26 PM on November 9, 2001


The Northern Alliance is definitely our ally against the Taliban, i don't think we're actually planning to *replace* the Taliban with them.
posted by lizs at 5:44 PM on November 9, 2001


People will always hate the U.S. as long as it is number one.

Is this how you rationalize away legitimate complaints against US forgien policy and past actions? I don't think its human nature to hate the best, I'd argue that its natural to cozy up to the best for one's own interest. Take a look at Pakistan's sudden change of heart over the Taliban and providing support for the US led attacks. Musharraf knows that he just cut a deal with a very wealthy relative and the rest is PR to calm certian vocal dissidents down. I'm very interested in seeing how Musharraf handles these dissidents as they get more organized. He took a very unpopular approach not because he 'hates number one' but because he knows whats best for the future of Pakistan.

, i don't think we're actually planning to *replace* the Taliban with them.

So what do you think they're expecting? Sorry they're not peace loving democractic freedom fighters, they're opportunists making a grab for power. I don't know what the end result may be, it may be complete failure to defeat the Taliban and if it isn't you'll have the entire NA up over arms about who gets what.
posted by skallas at 5:58 PM on November 9, 2001


Right, someone point out a morally perfect regime. Go ahead, we're waiting.....
posted by aramaic at 6:08 PM on November 9, 2001


Actually, it is human nature to hate the best. Not for the majority to hate you necessarily, but its definite that some will hate you. Microsoft is a good example. Bill Gates donates incredible amounts of money to charity yet this is overlooked and they are deemed "evil" by nearly anyone you ask. There are plenty of legitimate cases to be made against microsoft, but I believe in survial of the fittest and winning at any cost. Whether i should care about what other countries think of the U.S. or not, I don't. The exception being countries which are staunch allies like Israel.
posted by rabbit at 6:14 PM on November 9, 2001


well said, aramaic.
posted by rabbit at 6:17 PM on November 9, 2001


Right, someone point out a morally perfect regime.

So because perfection cannot be achieved we should throw all standards to the wind? I think that the NA is rightly criticized and fall short of the requirements of what the western world conisders to be requirements for a stable and free society - democractic elections, protection of human rights, and secular government. The warlords of the NA are the polar opposites of these ideals.

rabbit, what about the millions that love Bill Gates? Those who buy his book and respect his taking down of Big Blue. I think for every success story there will be a range of opinions not just your hackneyed survival of the fittest assumption of hate.
posted by skallas at 6:34 PM on November 9, 2001


Yes, skallas thanks for proving my point. There are more people who like the U.S. than do not. There is a limit to how many people you can get to like you no matter how much you appeal to them. Would microsoft be as hated if it weer not popular. Bob Saget was once the most popular man on tv. It's called market saturation. The United States being the number one rated show on tv. People liked reality shows, until there was a million of them. If Iran was the most powerful nation in the world there would be Iranian apologists and people protesting all the horrible things they had done. The same can be said of any nation in the entire world. We haven't "thrown standards out the window".

It is not just going from one extreme to another. We are delicately balanced, carefully weighing everything in the nation's first politically correct war. Yet not even politically correct enough for some
posted by rabbit at 6:53 PM on November 9, 2001


Uh...

Yes, the 'Northern Alliance' is supported by the U.S. and the anti-Taliban forces. I don't know if we should call them an ally, though.

I remember reading and following the alliance troops as they got beat, and run from one side of Afganistan to the other in a matter of months, and as the stories went from page one on the NYTimes (oh, god, please no cries about the NYT) to page 20, daily sport on the Op-Ed page, to not even being able to find a sideline paragraph about them loosing Mazar e Sharif.

Then Afganistan was off the pages for months until the Taliban were accused of supporting the opium trade, and the media was all up in arms about their treatment of women.

What is my point? We are not the tribal groups' ally. If we were, we would have been helping them out against the Taliban years ago. But you know, we had been supplying the Taliban with weapons to drive out the Soviets, so that would have been kind of silly.

As it is, the way this whole situation is being handled is a farce. Who the hell really cares who likes us? This isn't a high school popularity contest. Bush hasn't committed to any real changes here at home, and the 'war' is a classic example of how you get pulled into a conflict bit by bit isntead of committing, having a long term strategic plan, and executing it with all your resources.

Airport security. Yeah, sure, nothing done. Tom Ridge? What expertise does he have for counter-terrorism at home, other than being a friend of good ol' Gerogie? A call for a volunteer home defense corps? Uh, isn't that the National Guard?

Bush made a good speech after September 11, but nothing much since then has been very good. As for the northern alliance being our allies, the Pentagon won't even commit to saying that, exactly.

Personally, I think the boy is in over his head, and I'm a bit annoyed. Hey - the funniest thing? The Army and National Guard being stationed in Penn Station in New York. The guys I see every day and talk to aren't allowed to carry guns.

Great security idea.

Man, did I stray off topic. Go bash me in meta talk.
posted by rich at 8:56 PM on November 9, 2001


Bill Gates donates incredible amounts of money to charity

And that is relevant to his business practices how?
posted by rushmc at 9:08 PM on November 9, 2001


“I don't buy raaka's invective”

What’s not to buy? That charity can be egotistical? (C’mon you Randians and Nietzschians, back me up) That war is synonymous with conquest in the winner’s eyes? That Machiavelli’s terrible secret is that people thought he was an ass?

Anyway, I’m going to slyly imitate rabbit for a second.

The fact remains that any country that attacks another country has far more skeletons in its own closet, and it's merely a projection of their own failures.

Jparker call this sort of pollywoggle a “fart in the wind.”

“We are delicately balanced, carefully weighing everything in the nation's first politically correct war.”

No, that was Yugoslavia. I mean the Gulf War. Or Korea. Sorry, I mean WWII. Oh, I mean WWI. No wait, the invasion of the Phillipines. The Civil War. The Native American Genocide. The American Revolution.

You see, glassy-eyed rhetoricians (including Dewey about WWI) said the exact-same thing about all those wars. We hear about the end of ideology all the time. That this war is finally the most morally righteous of history and it’d be a depravity not to fight it. With few exceptions, the line is always a load of bunk. Mostly, it’s propaganda.

“the fact remains i don't care if they hate us or not.”

American triumphalism at work, folks. “I matter. You don’t. Go blow.”
posted by raaka at 10:28 PM on November 9, 2001


Raaka, if the "american triumphalism" is in reference to me asking who cares who likes us.. uh..

It wasn't American triumphalism.

It's more of.. does any country, as a collective of people, really care who likes them? If anything, that's just the wrong reason to do anything. Just as it's wrong for little Timmy to act a certain way so the cool kids will like him.

Saying it's just Americans that act that way is just silly.. and rather like pot calling kettle.
posted by rich at 11:14 PM on November 9, 2001


The official head of the Northern Alliance, Burhanuddin Rabbani, is the former president of Afghanistan and holds the country's seat in the United Nations. (via the BBC) All the talk of a new post-war Afghan government is confusing to me because it seems to me that the Northern Alliance is the internationally-recognized government of Afghanistan.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:16 AM on November 10, 2001


The Northern Alliance government is only recognized by a fe countires (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran and the 'UN' - something like that.. maybe a few more -stans or something -maybe Russia too. I'm just pulling this off to top of my head, so don't quote me on this but it's something like that.) - The US never recognized the NA gov'ment.
posted by QrysDonnell at 12:34 AM on November 10, 2001


That's true, kirk, but the UN has recognized the need for reorganizing after hostilities, ye olde "broad based government". The Northern Alliance will never be able to govern Afghanistan on their own, because all of the Pashtun -- about 40% of the country, mostly allied with the Taliban today -- will fight them.

It's certainly true that the Northern Alliance have a sordid history, but then, just about everybody in Afghanistan does. There's been so much killing over the last generation that the only realistic solution is Truth and Reconciliation a la South Africa or Rwanda. There are just too many "war criminals" to lock up.

No, I don't have starry-eyed optimism that solving the Afghan problem will be easy, but now we have no choice but to succeed.

Qrys: Actually, I think the US ceased to recognize the Rabbani government in 1997, when we terminated diplomatic relations with the Taliban and closed their embassy.

In any case, I believe along with Steven Den Beste that hte capture of Mazar-i-Sharif ("seat of the king", btw) will mean the entry of the US in a big way, because this city has the only really usable airport in the North. Once the environs are secured, overland supply routes from Uzbekistan will become possible, but the airport will allow a US forward base that we can use to deploy mobile infantry like the 10th Mountain Division (which is already in Tashkent).
posted by dhartung at 1:01 AM on November 10, 2001


Heh. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I've heard this somewhere before, I think...

In about 11 years, the U.S. will somehow fail to support the NA in some crucial sort of way, and they or their spawn will seethe and fester and eventually burst in some suitably spectacular fashion, when mass destruction travels as fragrant goo in small plastic bottles...
posted by Opus Dark at 3:03 AM on November 10, 2001


It amuses me that the US plans to install a monarchy. I know Zahir Shah claims he will convert the country to democracy... Musharraf said the same thing in Pakistan. Always trust autocrats when they talk about democracy.

I mean, come on, what happened to "live free or die"?
posted by D at 8:36 AM on November 10, 2001


In about 11 years, the U.S. will somehow fail to support the NA in some crucial sort of way, and they or their spawn will seethe and fester and eventually burst in some suitably spectacular fashion, when mass destruction travels as fragrant goo in small plastic bottles...

You vaticinate through a thin veil, my friend....
posted by rushmc at 8:50 AM on November 10, 2001


I mean, come on, what happened to "live free or die"?

It died, mostly.
posted by rushmc at 8:50 AM on November 10, 2001


Bill Gates donates incredible amounts of money to charity yet this is overlooked and they are deemed "evil" by nearly anyone you ask.

It's overlooked because it's irrelevant. Bill Gates is not Microsoft. Microsoft has built its business on arm-twisting and skullduggery, and that remains true even if Gates gives all his money to charity and goes to live under a tree in India.

There are plenty of legitimate cases to be made against microsoft, but I believe in survial of the fittest and winning at any cost.

Then why do you even care about "evil"? Winning at any cost implies that old-fashioned trivia like "good" and "evil", and modern trivia like "popularity", are irrelevant.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:10 AM on November 10, 2001


It amuses me that the US plans to install a monarchy.

I mean, come on, what happened to "live free or die"?


While it seems unlikely in this instance, it is certainly possible to have a great deal of freedom while living in a monarchy.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:24 AM on November 10, 2001


D, the US doesn't "plan to install a monarchy". They've simply put the monarchists in play as part of the plan to form ye olde "broad based government". The King himself says he has no plans to return -- he's old, and likes retirement in Rome -- but he's willing to be a power broker and figurehead for forming one via a Loya Jirga. Also, the US is anxious not to appear to be creating its own puppet here, so is leaving most of these details to the UN; not to mention that prematurely backing one faction or the other might spoil the much more immediately important war effort.
posted by dhartung at 1:41 PM on November 10, 2001


Supporting the response of dhartung.. no, the US is not installing a monarchy. I would think with something this big, people would do their research before posting off...

Now, the King actually does have plans to 'return', though.. and he doesn't necessarily 'like' his retirement in Rome, but he does not have any plans on being a ruler, and has always stated he will only be involved to turn the government over.

Given his age and all, you would think he doesn't have any designs on trying to take over. The reason he's liked as a choice, of course, is because most Afgans still appreciate him, being a Pushtan like most of the country. He's an acceptable middle road.
posted by rich at 7:47 PM on November 10, 2001


The NYTimes today has an article with some details on how the Northern Alliance soldiers are behaving themselves....

Near one abandoned bunker, a photographer watched as several alliance soldiers dragged a wounded Taliban soldier out of a ditch. As the terrified man begged for his life, the alliance soldiers dragged him to his feet. They searched the Taliban soldier, a stocky man in his forties with dark hair and a thick, long beard, and emptied his pockets. As another journalist walked towards them, one of the soldiers fired two bursts from his assault rifle into the man's chest. A second soldier beat his lifeless body with his rifle butt.
posted by mattpfeff at 2:15 PM on November 12, 2001


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