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FTR #685 Interview [#4] with Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

MP3 Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

Intro­duc­tion: Much of the show con­sists of a pre­sen­ta­tion of Liz and Paul’s pre­scrip­tions for what needs to be done in Afghanistan. (Lis­ten­ers inter­est­ed in the authors’ work are encour­aged to check out FTR #‘s 678 [3], 680 [4], 683 [5].)

Top­ping off the list is the need to reduce civil­ian casu­al­ties. In addi­tion to atten­u­at­ing civil­ian casu­al­ties, the authors feel that humil­i­a­tion of Afghan men must be stopped, at all costs. The sorts of abus­es high­light­ed at Abu Ghraib in Iraq work against U.S. and NATO inter­ests.

In addi­tion, recruit­ing peo­ple with a more real­is­tic and com­plete under­stand­ing is imper­a­tive (in the view of the authors).

Anoth­er change the authors believe to be imper­a­tive is the need to change the way human­i­tar­i­an aid is deliv­ered, espe­cial­ly struc­tur­ing that aid in such as a way as to avoid graft and “skim­ming.” Sad­ly, much of the aid that the U.S. has allo­cat­ed to the Afghans has been negat­ed by cor­rup­tion.

They also feel that a dec­la­ra­tion to the “Glob­al War on Ter­ror” would be use­ful. Although Mr. Emory agrees with this as a rhetor­i­cal and diplo­mat­ic gam­bit, he feels emphat­i­cal­ly that the war against the Under­ground Reich and its Islamist proxy war­riors is essen­tial for the sur­vival of democ­ra­cy and the Eng­light­en­ment itself. To ful­ly com­pre­hend his posi­tion, one should exam­ine in detail his work on the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks, uti­liz­ing the intro­duc­tion to FTR #391 [6] in par­tic­u­lar.

Refin­ing the basic focus of U.S. objec­tives is also some­thing the authors deem essen­tial. In addi­tion, the authors stress the need for inter­na­tion­al diplo­ma­cy and region­al inter­na­tion­al diplo­ma­cy in par­tic­u­lar. Forg­ing uni­ty of pur­pose and method­ol­o­gy is pre­req­ui­site for such diplo­ma­cy to be suc­cess­ful.

Fur­ther devel­op­ing the need for international/regional diplo­ma­cy, the authors empha­size the impor­tance of the resur­gence of Rus­sia and the fol­ly of play­ing a game in which box­ing in/denying Rus­sia con­tin­ues to be a major part of Amer­i­can diplo­ma­cy.

The lega­cy of Zbig­niew Brzezin­s­ki must be negat­ed, in their view.

Among the most impor­tant issues to be dealt with is the deci­sive role of the nar­cotics traf­fic in the Afghan imbroglio. The authors endorse the view that buy­ing that coun­try’s mas­sive opi­um crop for the pro­duc­tion of med­ical mor­phine might be a pos­si­ble solu­tion to the prob­lem.

To the sur­prise of many lis­ten­ers, the authors reject the notion of nego­ti­at­ing with the Tal­iban. In addi­tion to the fact that they are prox­ies for the Pak­istani intel­li­gence ser­vice and mil­i­tary, the Tal­iban are unremit­ting­ly mur­der­ous and have shown no will­ing­ness to hon­or nego­ti­a­tions in the past, dis­play­ing an incli­na­tion to slaugh­ter would-be nego­tia­tors.

Last­ly, the authors cau­tion that to “stay the course” may well pre­cip­i­tate the end of the Unit­ed States.

The authors con­clude with their vision of a more hope­ful future. See­ing Afghanistan as the grave of 20th and 21st cen­tu­ry con­fronta­tion­al pol­i­tics, they feel that the dire events tak­ing place in that coun­try will lead to a more con­struc­tive and intel­li­gent future.

Mr. Emory very much wish­es he shared their opti­mism.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Dis­cus­sion of the use of Islamists as proxy war­riors by var­i­ous par­ties over the cen­turies; review of the active sup­pres­sion of Liz and Paul’s work dur­ing the Sovi­et Afghan war; review of the piv­otal role of the Pak­istani mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence ser­vices and mil­i­tary in the cre­ation of the Tal­iban; review of gthe influ­ence of U.S.-based fos­sil fuels com­pa­nies in the Afghan imbroglio.

1. Much of the show con­sists of a pre­sen­ta­tion of Liz and Paul’s pre­scrip­tions for what needs to be done in Afghanistan. Top­ping off the list is the need to reduce civil­ian casu­al­ties.

“. . . Stop killing Afghans. Accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations human­i­tar­i­an affairs chief, John Holmes, the num­ber of Afghan civil­ians killed in the first half of 2008 rose 62 per­cent from that of the year before. Since Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 the Unit­ed States has behaved as if it is at war with the Afghan peo­ple. It is not. Amer­i­can fight­er jets and drones fir­ing Hell­fire mis­siles on rur­al mud-walled vil­lages and killing inno­cent Afghans is more than just inef­fec­tive. Its car­toon-like sim­plic­i­ty paints a grotesque image of the devo­lu­tion of the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal process and the inef­fec­tive­ness of high-tech, pre­cise and sur­gi­cal tac­tics. Even William Casey was said to have regret­ted the slaugh­ter of the Afghan peo­ple in his bid to hurt the Rus­sians. Now the Unit­ed States does it with­out blink­ing. . . . If Wash­ing­ton’s bureau­crats don’t remem­ber the his­to­ry of the region, the Afghans do. Bit­ter­ly. The British used air pow­er to bomb these same Pash­tun vil­lages after World War I and were con­demned for it. When the Sovi­ets used MIGS and the ‘dread­ed MI24 HIND heli­copter gun­ships to do it dur­ing the 1980’s, they were called crim­i­nals. For Amer­i­ca to use its over­whelm­ing fire­pow­er in the same reck­less and indis­crim­i­nate man­ner defies the world’s sense of jus­tice and moral­i­ty while turn­ing the Afghan peo­ple and the Islam­ic world even fur­ther against the Unit­ed States. . . .”

Invis­i­ble His­to­ry: Afghanistan’s Untold Sto­ry by Paul Fitzger­ald and Eliz­a­beth Gould; City Lights Books [SC]; Copy­right 2009 by Paul Fitzger­ald and Eliz­a­beth Gould; ISBN-13: 978–0‑87286–494‑8; p. 317. [7]

2. In addi­tion to atten­u­at­ing civil­ian casu­al­ties, the authors feel that humil­i­a­tion of Afghan men must be stopped, at all costs.

“Stop humil­i­at­ing Afghan men and des­e­crat­ing their homes Who­ev­er intro­duced Rafael Patai’s book The Arab Mind as a guide for inter­ro­gat­ing Mus­lim men through sex­u­al humil­i­a­tion should be put on tri­al for incit­ing ter­ror­ism. Any­one vague­ly aware of the mil­i­tary’s behav­ior while on search-and-destroy mis­sions in rur­al Afghan vil­lages would not won­der why the coun­try­side hs turned en masse  against the U.S. pres­ence.”

Idem. [7]

3. In addi­tion, recruit­ing peo­ple with a more real­is­tic and com­plete under­stand­ing is imper­a­tive (in the view of the authors).

Call in peo­ple with a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the prob­lem from a diver­si­ty of the Afghan polit­i­cal per­spec­tive and take their advice seri­ous­ly. Wash­ing­ton’s think tanks and a hand­ful of elite east­ern uni­ver­si­ties dom­i­nate U.S. plan­ning in Afghanistan. Hun­dreds of vet­er­an CIA and State Depart­ment per­son­nel respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing and over­see­ing the cre­ative destruc­tion of Afghan civ­il soci­ety dur­ing the 1980’s now share the virtues of that cre­ative destruc­tion with a whole new crop of eager young stu­dents. With­out excep­tion, these ‘experts’ mim­ic to one degree or anoth­er, an Anglo-cen­tric view of Afghanistan that remains firm­ly root­ed in a nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry Vic­to­ri­an view of colo­nial virtue while advanc­ing failed ‘free mar­ket’ ide­olo­gies com­mon to the Rea­gan era as solu­tions to the coun­try’s prob­lems. In a col­umn writ­ten for the Asia Times on Sep­tem­ber 27, 2007, even for­mer CIA bin Laden hunter Michael Scheuer cit­ed Rud­yard Kipling and The Man Who Would Be King as an excuse for why it’s so dif­fi­cult catch­ing Osama bin Laden in the moun­tains of Waziris­tan. As road­side bombs emu­late the Iraqi quag­mire, Tal­iban fight­ers sur­round Kab­ul and record amounts of hero­in spill from the seams of Afghanistan’s porous bor­ders, the U.S. con­tin­ues to look at a British-led effort designed in Lon­don in the 1830’s to expand her Indi­an Empire into Cen­tral Asia as a mod­el. It should be remem­bered that as long ago as 1870, that mod­el was referred to by British states­man Sir John W. Kaye as a ‘fol­ly and a crime.’ ”

Ibid.; pp. 317–318. [7]

4. Anoth­er change the authors believe to be imper­a­tive is the need to change the way human­i­tar­i­an aid is deliv­ered, espe­cial­ly struc­tur­ing that aid in such as a way as to avoid graft and “skim­ming.”

 

“Start help­ing Afghans in a way they can under­stand, see, and appre­ci­ate. The way human­i­tar­i­an aid is now deliv­ered appears designed to fail. A June 2008 arti­cle in Prospect mag­a­zine by Clare Lock­hart, cofounder of the Insti­tute of State Effec­tive­ness with for­mer Afghan finance min­is­ter Ashraf Ghani, described one sto­ry ‘of $150m going up in smoke,’ say­ing that ‘the mon­ey was received by an agency in Gene­va, who took 20 per­cent and sub­con­tract­ed the job to anoth­er agency in Wash­ing­ton DC, who also took 20 per­cent. Again it was sub­con­tract­ed and anoth­er 20 per­cent was tak­en; and this hap­pened again when the mon­ey arrived in Kab­ul. By this time, there was very lit­tle mon­ey left.’ The young Afghan man telling the sto­ry summed up his opin­ion this way: ‘We may be illit­er­ate, but we are not stu­pid.’

Accord­ing to Oxfam, the per capi­ta expen­di­ture for rebuild­ing Afghanistan after the Tal­iban defeat was $57 com­pared to $679 per capi­ta in Bosnia. Despite being absurd­ly inad­e­quate, ‘Only approx­i­mate­ly 25–30% of all aid com­ing into the coun­try is rout­ed through the gov­ern­ment, erod­ing its legit­i­ma­cy, plan­ning capac­i­ty and author­i­ty.’ Redi­rect the focus of U.S. gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy to serv­ing local needs. Roads and irri­ga­tion to start, a viable sec­u­lar edu­ca­tion pro­gram to com­pete with Pak­istan’s free madras­sas. This is not the way Wash­ing­ton has been oper­at­ing. As one aid per­son who recent­ly worked inAfghanistan for a year explained.’ The U.S. gov­ern­ment would be more effec­tive if they just took the mon­ey and threw it out the heli­copter win­dow. At least that way it might have some chance of get­ting to the peo­ple who need it.’ Either re-gov­ern­men­tal­ize for­eign aid or make U.S. con­trac­tors account­able for their actions. Con­trac­tors must be cho­sen based on com­pe­tence not ide­ol­o­gy or loy­al­ty to a polit­i­cal par­ty. Suc­cess must be defined by local needs, not Wash­ing­ton’s. Help the Afghans clean up their new gov­ern­ment and rid the coun­try of cor­rup­tion. Mil­i­tary vic­to­ry is mean­ing­less with­out the polit­i­cal back­up to sup­port it and the gov­ern­ment deliv­ery sys­tems nec­es­sary to sup­port growth. . . .”

Ibid.; pp. 318–319. [7]

5. They also feel that a dec­la­ra­tion to the “Glob­al War on Ter­ror” would be use­ful. Although Mr. Emory agrees with this as a rhetor­i­cal and diplo­mat­ic gam­bit, he feels emphat­i­cal­ly that the war against the Under­ground Reich and its Islamist proxy war­riors is essen­tial for the sur­vival of democ­ra­cy and the Eng­light­en­ment itself. To ful­ly com­pre­hend his posi­tion, one should exam­ine in detail his work on the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks, uti­liz­ing the intro­duc­tion to FTR #391 in par­tic­u­lar.

“. . . Declare the ‘glob­al war on ter­ror,’ the ‘Long War’ and the ‘glob­al strug­gle against vio­lent extrem­ism’ to be over. This will be greet­ed by a col­lec­tive sigh of relief by most of the world, espe­cial­ly the Amer­i­can pub­lic. The ‘war on ter­ror’ is the ‘sub-prime loan’ of U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy (a pho­ny bub­ble wait­ing to burst). Although Wash­ing­ton remains clue­less, the Amer­i­can peo­ple already know it. So does most of the world. Six years and bil­lions of dol­lars lat­er Osama bin Laden has bare­ly noticed. In fact, declare all the wars to be over includ­ing the war on drugs and the war on pover­ty. Wars are failed pol­i­cy by oth­er means. By def­i­n­i­tion, mak­ing war is fail­ure-the mak­ing of fail­ure on fail­ure. Accord­ing to Sarah Sewall, direc­tor of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Carr Cen­ter for Human Rights Pol­i­cy, ‘The West­’s use of mil­i­tary pow­er in Afghanistan has been a com­bustible and con­fus­ing mix of doc­trine and tools. Along with our NATO allies, we must think through the con­cep­tu­al blur­ring of counter-ter­ror­ism and coun­terin­sur­gency in Afghanistan. . . Hunt­ing high-val­ue tar­gets in Afghanistan is impor­tant, but we must align that goal with our broad­er polit­i­cal aims in Afghanistan and beyond..’ ”

Ibid.; pp. 319–320. [7]

6. Refin­ing the basic focus of U.S. objec­tives is also some­thing the authors deem essen­tial.

Address the con­cep­tu­al blur­ring. Deter­mine exact­ly what the Unit­ed States hopes to accom­plish and set­tle on one for­eign pol­i­cy as opposed to many com­pet­ing goals. From the 1980’s on the Unit­ed States has at once fos­tered Pak­istan’s strate­gic goals for con­trol­ling Afghanistan, Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s extreme reli­gious goals for con­vert­ing Asia to Islam and Uno­cal’s finan­cial goals of build­ing pipelines. Is the Unit­ed States inter­est­ed in a peace­ful set­tle­ment to the Afghan ques­tion or just  con­trol­ling Shi­ite-Iran­ian oil for Saudi/American oil exec­u­tives?

Ibid.; p. 320. [7]

7. In addi­tion, the authors stress the need for inter­na­tion­al diplo­ma­cy and region­al inter­na­tion­al diplo­ma­cy in par­tic­u­lar. Forg­ing uni­ty of pur­pose and method­ol­o­gy is pre­req­ui­site for such diplo­ma­cy to be suc­cess­ful.

Get every­body on the same page. If the goal is region­al sta­bil­i­ty then every­one must have a role in sta­bi­liz­ing it. Make nor­mal­iza­tion of rela­tion­ships between India and Pak­istan a pri­or­i­ty. Tra­di­tion­al Hindu/Muslim antag­o­nisms fuel the jihad incli­na­tion, not to men­tion the nuclear ambi­tions of both nations. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the Unit­ed States has used up its good offices. The U.S. mil­i­tary has been wound­ed deeply by impe­r­i­al over­reach. The U.S. econ­o­my is in deep debt to Chi­na and Sau­di Ara­bia-severe­ly weak­en­ing Amer­i­can lever­age. Rus­sia is becom­ing resur­gent and increas­ing­ly  friend­ly with Chi­na. Even Amer­i­ca’s clos­est ally, Britain, sees Amer­i­ca’s use of unmit­i­gat­ed force as a con­cep­tu­al fail­ure and counter-pro­duc­tive. The Unit­ed States can­not con­tin­ue on this path indef­i­nite­ly and U.S. for­eign pol­i­cy must be adjust­ed to deal with the impend­ing real­i­ty of a glob­al melt­down of influ­ence and pres­tige.

Idem. [7]

8. More about the need for international/regional diplo­ma­cy, stress­ing the impor­tance of the resur­gence of Rus­sia and the fol­ly of play­ing a game in which box­ing in/denying Rus­sia con­tin­ues to be a major part of Amer­i­can diplo­ma­cy.

Pro­mote a region­al dia­logue and invest what­ev­er polit­i­cal cur­ren­cy Wash­ing­ton has left in it before it’s too late. Region­al and Afghan sen­ti­ment for expelling the American/NATO mil­i­tary pres­ence grows. Calls for a region­al sum­mit which includes Pak­istan, India, Rus­sia and Iran but excludes are mak­ing the rounds. The Rus­sians have recent­ly offered to open a tran­sit cor­ri­dor through their ter­ri­to­ry to NATO in return for full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Afghan recon­struc­tion effort. This could very well be the water­shed that will deter­mine vic­to­ry or defeat for the Unit­ed States. Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, told Der Spiegel mag­a­zine in an inter­view in March, ‘We sup­port the anti-ter­ror cam­paign against the Tal­iban and al-Qae­da. I hope we can man­age to reach a series of very impor­tant agree­ments with our West­ern part­ners at the Bucharest sum­mit.’ At the April 3 sum­mit, France and Ger­many com­bined to thwart a Bush admin­is­tra­tion plan to allow the Ukraine and Geor­gia to join NATO. This can only be seen as a vic­to­ry for Rus­sia. In ter­mi­nol­o­gy all too rem­i­nis­cent of the 1930’s, Geor­gia’s Pres­i­dent Mikhail Saakashvili had already warned ‘that a rebuff would amount to ‘an appease­ment of Rus­sia.’ ” But with dis­sen­sion ris­ing with­in NATO and the Afghan cam­paign on the brink of a Sovi­et-style defeat, the Unit­ed States must rethink its rusty, old man­date for Eurasian con­quest or risk los­ing its Euro­pean allies to long-stand­ing Eurasian real­i­ties. The Unit­ed States must free itself of itspre-World War II mind-set, that trans­forms all diplo­ma­cy into a Munich-style appease­ment and every nation­al­ist leader into the next Hitler. Times have changed. It’s time for the Unit­ed States to enter the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry final­ly eschew the influ­ence of Wash­ing­ton’s would-be nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry impe­ri­al­ists. If not, the Unit­ed States risks los­ing its place in the game alto­geth­er to Europe’s old­er and more expe­ri­enced play­ers. The log­ic is sim­ple. Time is not on Amer­i­ca’s side. Pak­istan can no longer be count­ed on to do Amer­i­ca’s bid­ding, even half-heart­ed­ly. The Pak­ista­nis con­tin­ue to lob­by for a neu­tral­ized Afghanistan and under­mine the NATO effort, turn­ing the coun­try into a fed­er­a­tion of dis­con­nect­ed states akin to nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry British plans for colo­nial dom­i­na­tion. From the Pak­istani point of view, India is the prob­lem. One gets the impres­sion that most Pak­ista­nis don’t even see Afghanistan out of their obses­sion with India over Kash­mir. In the eyes of many in the ISI, it needs Afghanistan to pro­vide what they call ‘strate­gic depth’-a place to hide its retal­ia­to­ry nuclear weapons cache in case of an Indi­an first-strike. Should the Unit­ed States wish to remain in the region, this should pro­vide all the more rea­son for help­ing Afghanistan estab­lish itself and free­ing itself from Pak­istani dom­i­na­tion. As recount­ed in these pages, from the Afghan point of view, Pak­istan has always been the prob­lem.

Ibid.; pp. 320–322. [7]

9. Among the most impor­tant issues to be dealt with is the deci­sive role of the nar­cotics traf­fic in the Afghan imbroglio. The authors endorse the view that buy­ing that coun­try’s mas­sive opi­um crop for the pro­duc­tion of med­ical mor­phine might be a pos­si­ble solu­tion to the prob­lem.

Address the issue of ille­gal nar­cotics from where they orig­i­nate and not to suit Wash­ing­ton’s needs: To the poor Afghan farmer, the deci­sion to grow opi­um pop­py is a mat­ter of eco­nom­ics. With­out ade­quate roads to car­ry farm pro­duce to mar­ket and with­out ade­quate secu­ri­ty to police what roads there are, plant­i­ng pop­py is his only chance for sur­vival. Sub­ject­ed to crop erad­i­ca­tion by chem­i­cal spray­ing that sick­en his chil­dren and kill his live­stock he is eas­i­ly recruit­ed by Al Qae­da and the Tal­iban to fight the cen­tral gov­ern­ment and its Amer­i­can back­ers. Intent on reestab­lish­ing them­selves as the sin­gle most pow­er­ful force in the gov­ern­ment, Pash­tun Tal­iban will con­tin­ue to fight and poor Afghan farm­ers in the trib­al areas will con­tin­ue to sup­port them. As long as the Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to legit­imize Tajik, Uzbek and Haz­ara war­lords at the expense of Pash­tun goals, the Tal­iban will con­tin­ue to be viewed by the injured Pash­tun pop­u­la­tion as an army of nation­al pride. Unless the West adapts to this local real­i­ty, it will lose. . . . A pro­pos­al by the Sen­lis Coun­cil, an inter­na­tion­al pol­i­cy think tank which oper­ates in Afghanistan as a non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion, would see the con­ver­sion of Afghan opi­um into med­i­cine, with the ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ry being the rur­al Afghan vil­lager. Accord­ing to their pro­pos­al, the Sen­lis Coun­cil ‘would see vil­lage-cul­ti­vat­ed pop­py trans­formed into mor­phine tablets in the rur­al com­mu­ni­ties of Afghanistan by bring­ing the impor­tant added val­ue of the trans­for­ma­tion of pop­py intomed­i­cine at the local lev­el. This would address the cur­rent world short­age of these pain-reliev­ing med­i­cines.’ Togeth­er with pro­grams to legal­ly pur­chase Afghan opi­um direct­ly from grow­ers for inter­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal use, engage pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions like LEAP, Law Enforce­ment Against Pro­hi­bi­tion for advice in cre­at­ing a sys­tem of reg­u­la­tion and con­trol of pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Ibid.; pp. 322–323. [7]

10. To the sur­prise of many lis­ten­ers, the authors reject the notion of nego­ti­at­ing with the Tal­iban. In addi­tion to the fact that they are prox­ies for the Pak­istani intel­li­gence ser­vice and mil­i­tary, the Tal­iban are unremit­ting­ly mur­der­ous and have shown no incli­na­tion to hon­or nego­ti­a­tions in the past, dis­play­ing an incli­na­tion to slaugh­ter would-be nego­tia­tors.

Much has been writ­ten about nego­ti­at­ing with the Tal­iban insur­gents as a way to stop the fight­ing. Well-mean­ing peace activists have rec­om­mend­ed reviv­ing the prac­tice of pars­ing between Al Qae­da and the Tal­iban. Some rec­om­mend engag­ing the Tal­iban as the Unit­ed States engaged the Sovi­et Union, Com­mu­nist Chi­na, or Tony Blair engaged the Irish Repub­li­can Army. Aside from not delin­eat­ing between Pak­istani Tal­iban and Afghan Tal­iban and that both use ter­ror­ist meth­ods, such rec­om­men­da­tions ignore the real­i­ty that the Tal­iban were express­ly cre­at­ed ‘as a kind of exper­i­men­tal Franken­stein mon­ster,’ by the CIA and Pak­istani ISI to invade Afghanistan. That mis­sion has not changed. More impor­tant­ly, such rec­om­men­da­tions wrong­ly pain the Tal­iban as an indige­nous trib­al force bent on bring­ing peace to a trou­bled land. If the Tal­iban’s pre‑9/11 rep­u­ta­tion for mur­der, drug deal­ing, assas­si­na­tions, child kid­nap­ping and mass abuse of women were not enough, a recent peace-mak­ing effort in Pak­istan’s North­west Fron­tier Province pro­vid­ed an up-to-date assess­ment of the con­se­quences of nego­ti­at­ing with the Tal­iban: ‘The bod­ies of 22 mem­bers of a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored peace com­mit­tee were found dumped near South Waziris­tan yes­ter­day. . . .The peace com­mit­tee was attacked by sup­port­ers of Bait­ul­lah Mehsud, the head of the Pak­istani Tal­iban. . . . The killings occurred after the Pak­istani Army nego­ti­at­ed a cease-fire with Mehsud’s forces ear­li­er this year and pulled its sol­diers back from Mehsud’s ter­ri­to­ry in South Waziris­tan.’

Anoth­er view cur­rent­ly mak­ing the rounds in Europe lays the ground­work for a NATO pull­out of Afghanistan by argu­ing that since ‘no gov­ern­ment put in place by for­eign troops . . . can be con­sid­ered a legit­i­mate gov­ern­ment,’ and since ‘oth­er Pathans, inside Afghanistan, who are not reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists, and the Tajiks, Haz­aras, and Uzbeks . . . will not defend them­selves, there is noth­ing the for­eign­ers can do to save them from their coun­try­men.’ ‘The Tal­iban in Afghanistan are not the Russ­ian army, over­run­ning Afghanistan with tanks and heli­copters, or an invad­ing British colo­nial army. If they were, the prob­lem would be sim­ple.’ . . . If any nego­ti­a­tions are to be con­duct­ed, they must begin with the state with­in the state spon­sors of this Tal­iban ter­ror, Pak­istan’s army and its Inter-Ser­vices Intel­li­gence branch. It is this insti­tu­tion, which from 1973 on has played the key role in fund­ing and direct­ing first themujahideen bat­tle plan and then the Tal­iban. It is Pak­istan’s army that con­trols its nuclear weapons, con­strains the devel­op­ment of demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions, trains Tal­iban fight­ers in sui­cide attacks and orders them to fight Amer­i­can and NATO sol­diers pro­tect­ing the Afghan gov­ern­ment. Noth­ing can be accom­plished with­out neu­tral­iz­ing them as a sub­ver­sive influ­ence and turn­ing them toward the task of nation build­ing.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma must restore belief in civ­il soci­ety and pro­tect the mech­a­nisms by which civ­il soci­ety is grown and main­tained. In Afghanistan, that means reach­ing to mod­er­ate Afghans to oppose anti-sta­tist Islamist author­i­ty. Giv­en the his­to­ry of U.S. involve­ment, this will not be easy. But the con­cep­tu­al frame­work must be built  for a rad­i­cal­ly new kind of engage­ment away from the Islamist extrem­ism of Tal­iban-like orga­ni­za­tions. . . .”

Ibid.; pp. 323–324. [7]

11. Last­ly, the authors cau­tion that to “stay the course” may well pre­cip­i­tate the end of the Unit­ed States.

“. . . If Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is to save Afghanistan and the Unit­ed States itself from the impend­ing tip­ping point, it would be wise to fol­low the advice of David Walk­er, comp­trol­ler gen­er­al of the Unit­ed States. Warn­ing that the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment was par­al­lel­ing the decline and fall of the Roman empire, Walk­er described the coun­try in an August 2007 inter­view with the Finan­cial Times as being on a ”burn­ing plat­form,’ of unsus­tain­able poli­cies and prac­tices with fis­cal deficits, chron­ic health care under-fund­ing, immi­gra­tion and over­seas com­mit­ments threat­en­ing a cri­sis if action is not tak­en soon.’”

Ibid.; p. 325. [7]

12. The authors con­clude with their vision of a more hope­ful future. See­ing Afghanistan as the grave of 20th and 21st cen­tu­ry con­fronta­tion­al pol­i­tics, they feel that the dire events tak­ing place in that coun­try will lead to a more con­struc­tive and intel­li­gent future.

Mr. Emory very much wish­es he shared their opti­mism.