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Hullabaloo


Friday, March 31, 2006

 
Afghanistan

by tristero

Be sure to read through to the punchline:
U.S. officials are practically ignorant of this silent advance of fear. And their response to the exposed tip of the iceberg--open violence--has been misguided. Despite tough proclamations and battles against so-called insurgents in isolated valleys, U.S. military and civilian officials remain obsessed with 'Al Qaeda' and any possible manifestations of an Osama bin Laden-style, ideological confrontation. This concern acts as a set of blinkers, blinding Americans to the real problems in Afghanistan and vastly contributing to the Afghans' disillusionment.

The fact is, except in a training capacity, Al Qaeda hardly has any presence here. This is logical: Why would Al Qaeda send Arab or Chechen operatives to notoriously chauvinistic southern Afghanistan, which hated the domineering Arabs when they were guests of the Taliban, and where foreigners stick out like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? For ideological combat against the West, Iraq is a far more convenient and penetrable battleground, which is one reason why countless more Americans die there than in Afghanistan.

Even the 'suicide bombings' in Afghanistan that have garnered mentions in the Western press of late are often something else. In one case I investigated carefully--the target, an Afghan official, was a friend of mine--much evidence contradicted the notion that the attack was a suicide bombing, as it was immediately labeled: the condition of my friend's body, the type and location of the survivors' wounds, and eyewitness descriptions. Everything pointed to a remote-controlled mine planted ahead of time. But no Afghan or U.S. official bothered to collect this evidence or to examine it seriously when it was presented to them.

Why such sloppiness? Because the terrorist suicide bombing explanation suits everyone. Americans are comfortable spending their resources searching for the Al Qaeda bogeyman; the real perpetrators take cover behind the Al Qaeda label; and Afghan officials are absolved of complicity or incompetence and the responsibility to properly investigate.

The steadily worsening situation in southern Afghanistan is not the work of some ineffable Al Qaeda nebula. It is the result of the real depredations of the corrupt and predatory government officials whom the United States ushered into power in 2001, supposedly to help fight Al Qaeda, and has assiduously maintained in power since, along with an 'insurgency' manufactured whole cloth across the border in Pakistan--a U.S. ally. The evidence of this connection is abundant: Taliban leaders strut openly around Quetta, Pakistan, where they are provided with offices and government-issued weapons authorization cards; Pakistani army officers are detailed to Taliban training camps; and Pakistani border guards constantly wave self-proclaimed Taliban through checkpoints into Afghanistan.

But beleaguered Afghans have a hard time getting U.S. political and military officials to focus on these two factors, which feed on each other. U.S. personnel cling to the fictions that Afghans are responsible for the local officials who rule over them--despite the overwhelming moral and material support the United States has provided these officials--and that the Pakistani government is cooperating in the war on terror. And so the Afghan villagers, frightened, vulnerable, and disillusioned, are obliged to come to terms with the 'fairies who come at night.'

This state of affairs is so bewildering that Kandaharis have reached an astonishing conclusion: The United States must be in league with the Taliban.


hat tip to Avedon Carol

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