Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The U.S. Man in Afghanistan

See this map full size here.

The foolish continue to insist that there is some possibility of winning a war in Afghanistan. Leaving aside for the moment Sting's objection, that there is no such thing as a winnable war, one still has to question the foundations of this belief. The Clarion Content has been reminding folks for going on fifteen years that there is no Afghanistan, it is simply a Western conceit layered over an array of ethnic and tribal areas. Most Afghanis have no more national consciousness than America's Indians thought of themselves as from a place called Oklahoma. Their consciousness in both cases was simply to resist externally imposed authority over their lives.1

The Afghanis, they live on this land. They will continue to live on this land long after American soldiers have left (much the way the Soviet Union's soldiers eventually left). The American policy makers continue to insist there is an internal consciousness to Afghanistan, that democratic elections and institutions will take root there.2 They continue to pin their hopes on Afghan President Hamad Karzai. The BBC reports today about another example that shows just how futile this is.

A leading Taliban commander who was sentenced to sixteen years in prison for kidnapping three UN aid workers in the capital of Kabul in 2004 was released from prison late last year. He was pardoned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Of course, an unnamed presidential spokesman when questioned by the BBC said that Karzai could not recall the matter. (How Reagan-esque of him.) No need to worry that the released commander was the leader of Jaish-ul-Muslimeen or The Army of Muslims. Karzai has America's back. For sure...

1Western policymakers have long ignored that not everyone else has the same spatial demarcation of land and boundaries that they do. More nomadic existences are judged prima facie to be less sophisticated ways.

2There Clarion Content in no way believes it is impossible for democracy to take root in Afghanistan. Worldwide people yearn for freedom. However, it is rarely if ever a bigger priority in their lives than sustenance. When humans are forced to choose between freedom and food, almost everyone eats. Gandhi and the saintly are exceptions that prove the rule. What does this mean for American policymakers vis a vis Afghanistan? Widespread, sustained, economic growth must precede or at least accompany the transition to democracy, or democracy will be a crumbling facade from the moment it is erected.

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