The New Taliban

What’s keeping me up at night?  Via Majikthise, an article in Rolling Stone by the incredibly brave Nir Rosen.  I couldn’t stop reading it.

At one point, I got the distinct impression our leaders are acting like irresponsible doctors prescribing anti-biotics, sending more and more troops.  Amid the same signs of hope for negotiation Rosen picks out, he finds pretty solid evidence we are seeing the development of superbugs:

The guarantees of safety that once protected civilians have been replaced by a new generation removed from traditional society — one for whom jihad is the only law.

In spite of assurances about women being allowed to attend school and work, we see pictures of theocracy in action:

As we wait for the Doctor to arrive, Shafiq has other problems to deal with. His nephew has been arrested by a Taliban patrol after being spotted walking with a girl. After Shafiq secures his release, other Talib fighters call to complain that they heard music coming from his house the night before. Exasperated, Shafiq protests that it was only Al-Jazeera. He doesn’t mention the Iranian pop singer.

The outlook is pretty grim (emphasis mine):

Simply put, it is too late for Bush’s “quiet surge” — or even for Barack Obama’s plan for a more robust reinforcement — to work in Afghanistan. More soldiers on the ground will only lead to more contact with the enemy, and more air support for troops will only lead to more civilian casualties that will alienate even more Afghans. Sooner or later, the American government will be forced to the negotiating table, just as the Soviets were before them.

What’s more, the direct U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan is now likely to spill over into Pakistan. It may be tempting to attack the safe havens of the Taliban and Al Qaeda across the border, but that will only produce a worst-case scenario for the United States. Attacks by the U.S. would attract the support of hundreds of millions of Muslims in South Asia. It would also break up Pakistan, leading to a civil war, the collapse of its military and the possible unleashing of its nuclear arsenal.”

…But the Taliban have their own faith, and so far, they are winning.

This is the reality of Afghanistan as it stands today.  A new Taliban, divided, is taking the country back.  We need people with intelligence and good judgement leading this country to take advantage of that:

The internal split provides an opening — if U.S. intelligence is smart enough to exploit it.

“The U.S. should try to weaken the Taliban,” a former Taliban commander tells me. “They should make groups, divide and conquer. If someone wants to use the division between Haqqani and Omar, they can.”

Its a very slim silver lining hiding underneath an enormous storm cloud.

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