Friday, November 26, 2010

Fooling NATO

Let's face it, Westerners simply are not as foxy, as capable of pulling the rug out from under their opponents as those who have faced the ongoing drama of invasion and semi-conquest for millennia; who have, in the process, learned to manipulate and to feint and to cajole and entreat and bargain to their advantage. Western minds are too civil and civilized, beyond the arcane artifice of those who know how to probe the inside of a donkey's mouth.

In this instance the donkeys were NATO leaders whose anxiety to take Afghan President Hamid Karzai's proposals to fruition, that his government, with the blessing, aid and treasury of the West, bring Taliban into his fold. President Karzai has himself been taken in through himself being slightly tainted by Western ideals, in even imagining that this putative potential for bargaining with the Taliban could succeed.

He is more than willing to sacrifice the advances made on behalf of the health, security and freedoms, however tentative, of the Afghan population under the anxious tutelage of Western-based aid groups and civilian volunteers from the many countries whose troops sit on Afghan soil, trying to keep it clean of fundamentalist Islamist rule.

From his feverish imagination that visualized himself able to continue as president, while graciously doling out cabinet posts to Taliban members, to the Western allies' willingness to countenance such an alliance leading to the hoped-for stability that might ensue, came the frenetic "secret talks" with Taliban leaders which Taliban leaders publicly announced would never occur.

And then the absurd denouement of a most unfortunate episode, where a purported Taliban leader with whom high-level Western agents were in contact, ushering him onto a NATO flight directly to Afghan President Karzai's palace to speak confidently about the possibility of a settlement between the belligerents. But oops, this was not Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour who was being dined and wined and bargained with.

Nope, it was a shrewd shopkeeper, a man who saw an opportunity and as a true entrepreneur at heart, decided to grasp what fortune set in his path. Thumbing his Pakistani nose at both delusional Afghan hopes for the future, and the Western powers that succumbed so readily to his scheme. In the process, managing to secure for himself a rich prize, described by one Western diplomat as "a lot of money".

Also quite a lot of gravitas lost in the process, unfortunately.

And now everyone is blaming everyone else, while the Taliban leaders sit by, smirking and counting the ways that the hapless Afghan leadership and its powerful allies are so readily taken in by a modest little shopkeeper, maintaining the traditions of Eastern trade practices and keenly cut-throat advantages that go to those whose instincts of a shark lead them to lunge to the kill.

The cunning heritage enabling a little shopkeeper to sabotage the non-starter aspirations of the desperate simply bespeaks a time-honoured tradition of the alert and the keen taking advantage of life's opportunities. And now the blanched-faced countenances of the rouge-faced conspirators in failure sit across the bargaining table confronting one another with accusations.

In fact, a repetition of all the plans that have gone awry over the ten-year span of NATO in Afghanistan, when the CIA kept munificently funding the war lords enriching themselves at the expense of the entire war-beggared country, and where the U.S. government bargained with Pakistan's General Musharraf, accepting his pledges of support in the 'war on terror' while authorizing his national army and his secret intelligence to work against the U.S.
Pakistani forces had failed to cordon off all the seven tribal agencies that make up the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Afghan border. Troops were deployed on the Kurram agency but not farther south, in South and North Waziristan, from where bin Laden escaped into Pakistan. More al-Qaeda escaped northward and crossed into Pakistan's Dir and Chitral regions, which were also unguarded. Taliban escaping from Kandahar were able to cross into Balochistan province unmolested by any Pakistan army presence. Thousands of Taliban escaped in this direction. Descent into Chaos - Ahmed Rashid
The more things change, the more they resemble the past.

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