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Apparently, we won
April 7, 2003 10:36 AM   Subscribe

With reconstruction at a staggeringly low pace, resources dwindling, and the Red Cross suspending operations, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan's president and his representative in southern Kandahar, is worried about a small but strong group slowly grabbing onto power in regions of his country. They call themselves the Taliban. Although the limited funding has done some good for Afghanistan, Karzai fears it's nowhere near enough to fix the major problems of the country, and combined with sentiments raised by the war on Iraq, there are strong signs that the Taliban is significantly restructuring.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (41 comments total)

 
Admittedly, the failure in Afghani reconstruction is an issue many on the anti-war sdie (myself included) have used in the debate about possible benefits/hazards of the war on Iraq.

Is this evidence that bombing Afghanistan has/will have no long-term affects politically? Or is this a case of the United States simply needing to follow through on their previous actions? Personally, it's a moot point to argue whether or not Afghanistan should be bombed, so I would agree with the latter.

And in light of a possible Pakistan link as well as Talian ties to other terrorist groups, which seems like a better use of resources- continuing to hunt out terrorism militarily, or putting more investment into post-bombing Afghanistan to make the lure of Taliban rule less appealing as Karzai notes in the article?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:41 AM on April 7, 2003


quagmire?
posted by nofundy at 10:41 AM on April 7, 2003


'Tis a pity they have no oil.
posted by black8 at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2003


"We're sorry, but everyone at the Government of the United States is busy right now overthrowing another alledgedly-terrorist-supporting, decidedly-non-Christian, dirty-non-white regime your Government paid billions to create back when we were young and stupid and thought we could contain the maniacal despot we were responsible for manufacturing. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered by the next available agent. Your approximated wait time is... 'til Hell freezes over..."
posted by JollyWanker at 10:51 AM on April 7, 2003


What do you expect?

Do you expect the brothers Karzai to claim that we are funneling too much aid their way?
posted by trharlan at 10:59 AM on April 7, 2003


trharian, until a few weeks ago, we were funneling $0.00 to them. Is that too much?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2003


This whole "Afghanistan" thing is so three weeks ago. We're in Iraq now. Hello! [rolls eyes]

Seriously, Afghanistan has served her political purpose; unless they find a huge oil reserve there, Afghanistan is no longer of any use to the Bush administration. On the contrary, they're a hindrance; we never took out or even found Osama bin Laden, or conclusively got rid of the Taliban regime, so Afghanistan is nothing but a source of irritation and embarrassment to Bush and Co. Even if we weren't currently liberating Iraq, Afghanistan would get swept under the rug.
posted by RylandDotNet at 11:19 AM on April 7, 2003


Well, all the Taliban has to do to be back in power is clamor for open elections and then win those.

If the Taliban wins free and fair elections, and then votes to dissolve the government and return to Islamic law, is the US still morally obligated to rebuild the country? Or are we obliged to go back and bomb the place into small pebbles again?

Bush is up shit creek with this situation. The Democrats are going to skin him alive over his failure to make us the good guys in Afghanistan. We've gone from a possible win-win to a solid lose-lose.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:22 AM on April 7, 2003


When's Halliburton building that oil pipeline through Afghanistan?
Will they need US troops to "defend" the construction and later the finished product?
How much will that cost us in soldier's lives and taxpayer money?
posted by nofundy at 11:24 AM on April 7, 2003


XQUZYPHYR, I don't know where you're getting this crazy idea that the Taliban is still thriving in Afghanistan. They're history, pal. Gone. Buh-bye. Game Over. Christopher "Ha Ha Ha" Hitchens told me so.
posted by soyjoy at 11:25 AM on April 7, 2003


"staggeringly [s]low pace"

Tell me you approached this issue with an open mind.

What does "slow" mean in this context? I'm sure that the US and other coalition nations (yes, that coalition) will Afghanistan will see to the development of Afghanistan, but your post suggests that the War turned the place from First World to Third World, and now we're not turnning it back into First World overnight.

Get real. Or at least get fair.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:27 AM on April 7, 2003


This makes me so angry I want to scream. The US government is so god-damn short-sighted!!! God damn George Bush. Really. That man is so myopic and epitomizes everything that the world hates about America. We have done it again. Gone into a nation with one purpose and no clean plan for the future and screwed it up again. And you better believe it's gonna happen again in Iraq. Who knows what wonderful and better dictator is going to emerge in 2 years when we've lost interest?
posted by aacheson at 11:35 AM on April 7, 2003


Congratulations on your liberation!
posted by homunculus at 11:37 AM on April 7, 2003


Osama Bin Who? America doesn't give a shit about Afghanistan and the extemists will eventually sneak back into power without firing a shot.

Hell, most people still couldn't find Afghanistan on a map if you paid them anyway. Given the public's utter disconnect with the facts over Iraq, don't expect anyone in the first world to ever give a rat's ass about what happens there.
posted by mark13 at 11:42 AM on April 7, 2003


your post suggests that the War turned the place from First World to Third World

Actually, ParisP, what the post suggests to me is that the first military/humanitarian foray of the current Bush administration is now following the exact same pattern that gave succor to bin Laden and his co-conspirators in the first place. It suggests further that the Bush administration, in its infinite wisdom, can't see how abandoning Afghanistan to warlords and zealots might in some way compromise American and world security in the future. (A far-fetched scenario, I know - when did Afghanistan's internal strife ever connect directly and unequivocally to American tragedy? As we all know, Iraq and Iraq alone poses such a threat. Get real indeed.)

What it suggests also is that when Bush was preening for the cameras with Karzai in January 2002, and he said, "The United States is committed to building a lasting partnership with Afghanistan. We will help the new Afghan government provide the security that is the foundation of peace" - well, what it suggests is that he was either a hypocrite, or he was flat-out lying.

And finally, what this post suggests is that it's only common sense, based on remarkably recent history, to be skeptical of the Bush administration's commitment to exporting democracy to troubled Muslim nations in Asia.

[/rant]

And now, ParisP, you can return to the early stages of your Operation Iraqi Freedom victory party before your freedom fries get cold.
posted by gompa at 11:48 AM on April 7, 2003


Tell me you approached this issue with an open mind. What does "slow" mean in this context?
"It's like I am seeing the same movie twice and no one is trying to fix the problem," said Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan's president and his representative in southern Kandahar. "What was promised to Afghans with the collapse of the Taliban was a new life of hope and change. But what was delivered? Nothing. Everyone is back in business."

Karzai said reconstruction has been painfully slow - a canal repaired, a piece of city road paved, a small school rebuilt.

"There have been no significant changes for people," he said. "People are tired of seeing small, small projects. I don't know what to say to people anymore."
I think that sort of covers it. I repeat: stating himself the slow rebuilding and limited funding of post-bombing Afghanistan, Karzai fears the influence of Taliban restructuring. That's not a matter of objectivity, that's what the guy said. Be fair yourself.

In that light, what are you saying here? That you believe Afghanistan will be rebuilt? If so, how long do you think is appropriate? And how is a long-term goal idea valid in light of the evidence this article suggests, not to mention the always-addressed issue of the United States almost poetically "forgetting" to give any aid to Afghanistan last year?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:48 AM on April 7, 2003


In that light, what are you saying here? That you believe Afghanistan will be rebuilt?

Quite seriously, I will plead ignorance here. What's the "base line"? Pre-Soviet invasion? Pre-US bombing? Pre-Taliban? I don't quite understand what "re-built" means, and what "develop" means in this context? What did the US destroy, for example?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:52 AM on April 7, 2003


Osama Bin Who? America doesn't give a shit about Afghanistan and the extemists will eventually sneak back into power without firing a shot.

Sounds like they're firing quite a few shots, actually. Into Red Cross workers.

Oh, you mean extremists sneaking back into power in America? Yeah, probably.
posted by monosyllabic at 11:56 AM on April 7, 2003


"We're sorry, but everyone at the Government of the United States is busy right now overthrowing another alledgedly-terrorist-supporting, decidedly-non-Christian, dirty-non-white regime your Government paid billions to create back when we were young and stupid and thought we could contain the maniacal despot we were responsible for manufacturing.

So. . .when is the US getting around to overthrowing the terrorist regime in Saudi Arabia?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:00 PM on April 7, 2003


Hey, on a more positive note, opium production is now at record highs in Afghanistan.
Ashcroft's gotta love that, what with our civil liberties now gone and all!
posted by nofundy at 12:02 PM on April 7, 2003


when is the US getting around to overthrowing the terrorist regime in Saudi Arabia?

Oh, after Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Paramus, I'd imagine. I mean, after all, we kinda sorta like them, right?

Anyway, now that it's become obvious that the Bush Regime has no intentions of doing anything other than wasting American lives and walking away before the hard part's started - hey, before they even catch the outlaw they ostensibly went after (wave to the cameras, Osama!) - those little countries the Israelis don't like ought to start tumbling down like a house of (gasoline company credit) cards...
posted by JollyWanker at 12:10 PM on April 7, 2003


What's the "base line"?

How about starting small, with the first goal being that the government which was put into place after the loya jirga (I know, so last year) actually has some influence beyond the city limits of Kabul? I mean, you have to be a student of irony to appreciate the fact that the French and Germans have always been among the largest contributors to ISAF, while the US has concentrated on torturinginterrogating 'unlawful combatants' from its nice little airbase.

What did the US destroy, for example?

The capacity to support the government it essentially installed, thanks to its paying off regional militia leaders with suitcases of used greenbacks.

Oh, and its credibility.

(There's the small matter that it was primarily CIA-funded munitions which kept the mujahedin going through the 1980s, and that these caches lasted for both sides through the post-Soviet civil war from 1992 to 1996, and that US-funded kit was and probably still is being used by the Taliban. And then there was the direct bombing in 2001 of whatever was left of Afghanistan. But as you say, you plead ignorance here: go stir the Freedom Dressing on the Victory Salad.)
posted by riviera at 12:13 PM on April 7, 2003


I don't quite understand what "re-built" means, and what "develop" means in this context?

Paris: Here are three questions. Is it possible that the Taliban might come back into power? If so, would this be in the interests of the United States? If not, what can we do to prevent it?

I think that's the point.
posted by moonbiter at 1:03 PM on April 7, 2003


Ok. Well, I'm not sure the Taliban returning really is the point of the post, since things could be/continue shitty in Afghanistant without the Taliban's return. That said, I think it's highly unlikely a coherent, organized, country-wide Taliban will return because (1) we're watching them; and (2) the Taliban, as extreme as it was, was a reaction to the Soviet War in terms of available weaponry, and acceptance amongst enough people; and (3) we've taken most of their weapons away, and that degree of control can't be achieved without creating a police state; and (4) even with drug trade, Afghanis are too poor to buy that many arms again.

Tangent: I'm sick and tired of Europeans telling Americans how ignorant of history they are, and how Americans can't gauge the horrors of war because they haven't really expreienced them locally. First: sorry, but If you think you need to get run over by a truck to know how bad it is, there's something wrong with your philosophy.

Second, history doesn't dictate the present and future: example: for all the Iraqi soldiers being, tragically killed in the War, a relatively small number of civiliians are; a much smaller number, even perceptage-wise, than in WWII; spare me your historical sophistication, please!
posted by ParisParamus at 1:40 PM on April 7, 2003


And now, ParisP, you can return to the early stages of your Operation Iraqi Freedom victory party before your freedom fries get cold.

...go stir the Freedom Dressing on the Victory Salad.)

And you can go fuck yourself... and take riviera with you. It's jackasses like you that destroy the possiblility of two-sided debate on these issues. ParisParamus was the first poster from the other side of the debate (and the only one so far) to voice an opinion and you have to come out with sarcastic insults. You're an asshole, plain and simple.
posted by Witty at 1:54 PM on April 7, 2003


Karzai's brother is his representative in the south? Who elected them?
posted by Fat Buddha at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2003


Q: What does Saddam Hussein have in common with Eric Rudolph and Osama Bin Laden?

A: The feds haven't caught any of 'em.
posted by mischief at 2:07 PM on April 7, 2003


[cheap shot]
Karzai's Bush's brother is his representative in the south Florida? Who elected them?
[/cheap shot]
posted by dash_slot- at 2:11 PM on April 7, 2003


what failure?
posted by ZupanGOD at 2:16 PM on April 7, 2003


And you can go fuck yourself...

You're an asshole, plain and simple.


The calm voice of reasoned two-sided debate has spoken. Lo, I am humbled.

*lowers head, shuffles toward door*
posted by gompa at 2:33 PM on April 7, 2003


Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
posted by Witty at 3:12 PM on April 7, 2003


"Witty", indeed.
posted by influx at 5:00 PM on April 7, 2003


What do Elvis and Osama have in common?

Only place they'll be seen again is in the Weekly World News...

JB
posted by JB71 at 7:05 PM on April 7, 2003


I think it's about...at least 5 years to soon to call what we've done in Afghanistan a failure; what constitutes success and failure is a whole other question.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:07 PM on April 7, 2003


I'm not sure the Taliban returning really is the point of the post

That's probably true. There is a high degree of sarcasm about the post. But I think it is the point of the article, and what interesting about the piece.

(1) we're watching them;

Which is a good thing. But threat of punishment begets compliance, not a change in thought or motivation. Eventually we will be less vigilant, and then the mischef begins.

(2) the Taliban, as extreme as it was, was a reaction to the Soviet War in terms of available weaponry, and acceptance amongst enough people;

Possibly. Our policies might engender a similar reaction, however.

(3) we've taken most of their weapons away, and that degree of control can't be achieved without creating a police state;

Okay (although I'm a little confused about the last bit).

(4) even with drug trade, Afghanis are too poor to buy that many arms again.

Ah ha. But that's just it ... arms are not the main danger. The Taliban were never a military threat to the US. They are an ideological threat, providing an atmosphere where terroist groups like Al Qaeda might thrive. Wouldn't a more constructive approach be to encourage the growth of an alternate environment? One where conditions aren't so 'shitty.'

By lowballing the rebuilding of Afghanistan, the US is not doing it's best to prevent another hostile group from taking root. Instead of nipping the problem in the bud, we are setting ourselves up for more difficulties.
posted by moonbiter at 7:17 PM on April 7, 2003


I was refering to arms as a means of controlling the Afghanis, not threatening us.

Possibly. Our policies might engender a similar reaction, however.

Well, I hope you don't really think that. We're not the Soviets; (and I'm sorry I had to even write that).
posted by ParisParamus at 7:40 PM on April 7, 2003


Look. We went into Afghanistan, as we have in Iraq, to deal with a problem of our own security. In both cases, we will do significantly more, but it's important to remember what's dovetailing with what. We're not going to turn Afghanistan into Belgium, or even Morocco. We'll do the best we can.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:46 PM on April 7, 2003


It's unfortunate that one would create a post out of a single article without trying to build some context. As it happens, coalition forces and the Afghan government are responding to the deteriorating security situation and the temporary UN suspension of staff movement has already been lifted. The Afghan government has announced the killing of 150 fighters and the arrest of 5 Taliban chiefs. Just last month, international donors pledged over $2 billion, meeting "ninety percent of what we asked for", according to the Afghan Finance Minister.

Washington [said it] would contribute $820 million in new aid this year, while Japan said it would give a further $500 million over the next two and a half years. The European Union, which hosted the donor meeting, has pledged $432 million in aid until the end of 2004.

Certainly what is needed is far more. The pipeline project is key to reviving a self-sufficient Afghan economy, and the government is seeking Indian investment on the assumption that India would be a major customer of the Central Asian natural gas which it would supply. Unocal, it should be remembered, has long been divorced from this project, and indeed no contractors have yet been selected. The project is controlled jointly by the governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and with the addition of India there may well be sufficient regional expertise available (and regardless, once the project goes forward, Western investors may be interested enough to provide underwriting).

Nobody is saying the situation isn't critical. Clearly Afghan mountains are a haven for fighters as since time immemorial and it will be some time before the threat is reduced to manageable levels; but security forces are responding, with an eye toward increasing the mandate and confidence of the Afghan national army, and there are efforts to increase coordination between local commanders, Kabul authorities, and international represenstatives; but clearly the warlord system, with all its faults, is going to continue as an interim security solution, because there is no easy or affordable alternative.

One indication of the US commitment is a new deployment of civil affairs reservists, who are using military funds to directly assist Afghans in tangible ways -- rebuilding schools, roads, and wells, and building trust between locals and US security forces (even in Oruzgan, where the wedding party bombing tragedy occured.) This is happening despite strains on our Reserve system.

I don't know that we're doing "enough" by some abstract standard. Whatever we do probably won't be "enough" for some people, and anyway the continuance of the Afghan government as an aid-dependent entity means that its bureaucrats will continue to ask for more. A realistic assessment is that more is being done every day, and with constitutional certainty approaching, more will be possible. In the end, Afghanistan is being given another chance: in the words of Benjamin Franklin, "A Republic, ma'am, if you can keep it." At some point it is going to be the responsibility of the Afghan people to seize their nation from those who would destroy it. They were first given this chance a decade ago and it dissolved in fits and starts. Then, as now, a key player in the process of destabilization was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a man who thought nothing of random mortar attacks on Kabul to sow confusion and terror. (He was a loose cannon as a mujahid, though apparently not -- as long suspected -- a KGB agent.). Certainly whomever the West supports -- warlords, the central government, or somebody else -- those left out of the power structure are going to coalesce around a few flags. The Taliban remnants and Hekmatyar are able to take advantage of this dissension. But it's important to realize that the larger strategy here is to progressively deny these troublemakers their refuges and funding, and like it or not, Iraq's reconstruction is key to that strategy.
posted by dhartung at 7:59 PM on April 7, 2003


I think it's highly unlikely a coherent, organized, country-wide Taliban will return because (1) we're watching them
Maybe the people who are disagreeing with you think we should do a tiny bit more than JUST WATCHING!
Osama bin Laden is going to be brought to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen in a month, it may happen in a year. But he is going to be brought to justice. He's on the run. He thinks he can hide, but he can't. We've been at this operation now for about two and a half months, and we've made incredible progress. And one of the objectives I've said, in this theater, in all theaters for that matter, is that we want al Qaeda killers brought to justice. And we'll bring him to justice.
posted by Sirius at 9:12 PM on April 7, 2003


dhartung: Meantime, the Taliban appears to be restructuring, which is major news (even if not well covered). The reasons we went to Afghanistan were commonly said to be: A) To end the Taliban's regime, in order to B) Deny Al-Queda a training ground, to "smoke them out of their holes." This new twist may have been deserving of context in later posts, but it needed no such larger context whatsoever in the front page post. It's a big deal in and of itself.
posted by raysmj at 9:14 PM on April 7, 2003


by some accounts gulbuddin hekmatyar was (indirectly but knowingly) sponsored by the CIA...
posted by kliuless at 11:34 PM on April 7, 2003


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