Even what little information about the situation in Afghanistan that dribbles out of our increasingly coy and entertainment-oriented media suggests, at least to a reasonable and non-politically warped person, that things are not going all that well for the freedom-loving saviors from the West. Our soldiers continue to be blown up in areas declared secure, and well organized strikes take place in Kabul itself. More telling, the number of attacks on “NATO” troops (this is clearly an American war) by members of the Afghan military and security forces we are training is increasing. Reports of Afghan officials departing the country with suitcases full of money abound, and the “democracy” we are building charges rape victims with adultery. And the word is that the Pentagon and White House are annoyed with the pessimistic reports coming out of the CIA, reports which are of course classified.
Well, suspicions are confirmed by an intelligence report leaked in Germany, where Berlin is painting the same rosy picture as Washington, Chancellor Merkel having as much political capital as President Obama invested in a war that has precious little to do with American security and absolutely nothing to do with German interests. Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, has issued a report on the situation in Afghanistan and the prognosis for the next two years, and though it is marked “classified/confidential” because it so at odds with what both the German and American governments are saying, it has been leaked.
Both governments are claiming that no more combat troops will be needed after 2014, only trainers for the Afghan army, which of course is killing Americans on a regular basis now. According to the BNDreport, at least 35,000 troops will be required to stabilize the country, and “stabilize” hardly suggests creating a state that can stand alone. The analysis also found no evidence that the Taliban is willing to enter serious negotiations, especially with the government in Kabul, and is just biding its time.
Afghan President Karzai is the target of particular criticism. His main goal appears to be maintaining power, not just for himself but also his family: he is positioning his brother to succeed him as president. His government is thoroughly corrupt, and despite assurances by himself and by Washington he has implemented no reforms, nor is there any evidence that he intends to. He is certainly willing to deal with the Taliban in order to secure his position, which hardly sounds promising for Afghan women. But the US must defend him as the democratic reformer, since abandoning him would be an admission of a failure that has cost us a trillion dollars and the lives of more than 2000 soldiers.
Of course none of this is surprising for anyone familiar with Afghan society, which has not changed since the British – and probably Alexander – were there.
The “country” is occupied by several ethnic groups that share a tradition of mutual hostility, and corruption and nepotism are ingrained in Afghan society. The Afghanis are accustomed to rule by petty kings, tribal leaders and warlords, and it is questionable whether democracy could work even were the country not facing the Taliban and sundry religious whackos coming out of Waziristan. Even a cursory knowledge of Afghan history would have strongly suggested that attempting anything more than bombing the Taliban and supporting a friendly warlord was complete folly, but the Congress and the White House, motivated by political considerations, have traditionally paid little or no attention to the actual experts in the State Department. You would think that the British at least would know better, which they probably do, but when Washington speaks Europe must listen.
The prosecution of this war has become positively surreal. A growing majority of Americans us want to leave immediately, and the vast majority of the citizens of our NATO allies never supported the war in the first place. The Afghanis, while traditionally hospitable to guests, are also traditionally hostile to foreign soldiers in their land, and they practice a religion that requires conduct seemingly impossible for westerners to adhere to. We are allied with and provide huge amounts of money to Pakistan, whose people hate us more and more and whose intelligence service is actually aiding the people we are fighting. And as a breeding ground for international Islamic terrorism Pakistan now leads the world, although the ideological underpinning, Wahhabism, emanates from Saudi Arabia, another of our friends and one of the most oppressive countries on earth. Finally, while the Taliban government sheltered international terrorists, for which reason we blew them away, they had no real grudge against the US. They probably do now.
So why are we still there? Primarily, I suspect, because no politician will ever admit the failure of a policy he is associated with, and everyone was associated with this clearly failed policy of turning Aghanistan into a democratic civilized nation. But also because neither party, especially those wimpy Democrats, wants to look weak on terrorism (it used to be communism), even though most Americans could not care less, especially since they appear to have forgotten the war altogether. A true leader in the government could easily make the case that not only is this war an incredible waste of lives and money, but it also actually damages our security by squandering military resources and producing new jihadis by the thousands. But when was the last time you saw a serious leader among our political class? Besides, our politicians are all dependent upon big money, which includes the people who make immense profits feeding Mars.
So, for two more years Americans and others will continue to die in some god-forsaken place that has nothing to do with our security and where everyone hates us. And all because politicians in Washington are afraid of being castigated, not by the voters but by the other party. Vietnam is beginning to seem like a sensible war:
And it’s one, two, three
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop’s Afghanistan.