In an amazing bit of candor, but not for American consumption it is important to note, US Defense Secretary had this to say about what’ s going on in Afghanistan
the Taliban (are) part of the “political fabric” of Afghanistan, but said any future role for it would depend on insurgents laying down their weapons.
“The question is whether they are prepared to play a legitimate role in the political fabric of Afghanistan going forward, meaning participating in elections, meaning not assassinating local officials and killing families,” Dr Gates said in Pakistan yesterday.
“The question is what do the Taliban want to make out of Afghanistan? When they tried before, we saw before what they wanted to make and it was a desert, culturally and every other way.”
The above statement seems to be an admission that what’s taking place is a civil war in Afghanistan within the Taliban movement between who are going to forsake armed struggle versus those who are willing to work towards political solutions to the problems of Afghanistan. The president, Hamid Karzai has made similar statements over the years of the political viability of the Taliban movement and has even tried to incorporate many followers of that movement into his government. The kicker for this observer is that many people on the outside looking in seem to think there’s not much difference between a Karzai run government and its predecessor the Taliban, except for the presence of an American occupying force propping up the latter. Otherwise issues of intertribal warfare persist, the economic blight affecting the country and the status of women…..something always used to bring about change, but usually in the wrong direction, remain the same under Karzai.
Why then do American forces remain in Afghanistan? There’s nothing in Gates’ comments which would legitimize a US military presence in Afghanistan, and especially an escalation of forces the likes Obama suggests is necessary. It would appear the more the US attempts to rout Taliban forces by force of arms, the more precarious Karzai’s position becomes in Afghan society, which is no doubt why he, Karzai, is appealing to the Taliban himself without the good blessings of American policy makers in his attempts to bring Taliban under his wing. What you have in Afghanistan therefore are two conflicting ideologies that are mutually exclusive; a military foreign occupier fighting a nationalistic movement that has been embraced by the government put into power by that military authority. This scenario looks even more difficult than what the Russians faced during their occupation of that country. The answer is not in escalation but rather in de-escalation, and for all those who say it’s about capturing OBL, I would remind them some of the biggest names in the al-Qaida hierarchy were caught not by US troops but by the CIA.