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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Why the Taliban should never come to power

    by Sunny on 4th April, 2009 at 1:38 am    

    Video of girl’s flogging as Taliban hand out justice - at the Guardian. Well done for them publishing this.

    I’ll keep this short as I don’t have the time right now. I’m for Obama’s Afghanistan strategy - that area cannot be conceded back to the Taliban. Not only are these people religious scum, but they would also destabilise the entire Sub-continent. So while staying in Afghanistan may not bring positive benefits to America in the short or medium term - in the longer term it forces Pakistan to confront its own demons and keeps trouble between India and Pakistan from flaring up. The Taliban should never be allowed to get into power anywhere, they are a threat to entire regions.

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    44 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Gordon — on 4th April, 2009 at 4:35 am  

      Playing devil’s advocate here, but wouldn’t it be better for the US and UK to pull out and instead give the support to Pakistan and other countries in the region to deal with it? I know Pakistan is making a hash of things at the moment, but surely they can’t do worse than the US or UK, who have proven themselves completely inept. This is no longer about preventing attacks on the West but about long-term regional stability.

      Who else in the region might be able to help? None of these ideas seems sufficient, and whilst Obama means well, he is clever enough to realise just continuing the existing failed strategy and hoping it will work by sending even more troops in there to die, is stupid. Like “the surge”, adding more troops to a country with no real effective central government only contains the violence until the troops leave, rather than solve the underlying conflict.

      He has to come up with a better plan and announce a big change in strategy, or this will continue to eat away at him for the rest of his presidency.

    2. comrade — on 4th April, 2009 at 8:29 am  

      This beating took place in Pakistan, shall we kwow send troops onto pakistan? The government in Afganistan are in the process of interducing more ant-women Laws and this is our Karzi, What have we acchieved in Afganistan, apart from pushing the Afgan people into the arms of the Teleban. We should get the fuck out of there, and let the Afgan people decide what kind of Law they want to live under. You just can not invade a country and the change the way people live. Its like the Teleban invading the UK and forcing their way of life here. Only the Afgan people can make that change. When Najibulla tried to take that county forward he was overthrown by the US. Wasn’t it the US who bought these religous fantics to power in the first place.
      Are we serious in the belief that the US really cares for human rights, We can judge that from their the unquestionable support for the Zionist in Isreal and the slaughter in Gaza. ‘thirteen hundred dead and nothing said’

    3. Bert Rustle — on 4th April, 2009 at 9:01 am  

      Sunny wrote … The Taliban should never be allowed to get into power anywhere …

      So a form of society promoted by some is to be imposed on others?

      Is the plan that females in Afghanistan to be forced to vote, or simply that males in Afghanistan be forced to recognise such votes?

      If more males vote than females, will a pro rata excess of said male votes be declared void to make the vote representative?

      What proportion of those promoting a particular form society which is to be imposed on others are in the Regular Army or at least the Territorial Army?

    4. blah — on 4th April, 2009 at 10:21 am  

      Obamas strategy makes the Taliban more likely. With every wedding party attacked and every drone killing innocents they increase their support.

      Nazi extremists like the BJP have been in power in India and may well be again. As the Gujurat genocide showed they do rather more than flog women.


      Yet they arent going to be fought or banned and indeed Hindu Nazis groups like the VHP/RSS are free to raise money in the west for their anti-Muslim activities


      In this country most of the temples are run by these extremists!

      If you dont think extremists in India destabilise entire regions more than extremists in Afghnaistan you are sadly mistaken

    5. chairwoman — on 4th April, 2009 at 10:52 am  

      Is there any faith apart from your own that aren’t ‘Nazis’, Blah/Munir/Whoever?

    6. Refresh — on 4th April, 2009 at 11:32 am  

      ‘When Najibulla tried to take that county forward he was overthrown by the US. Wasn’t it the US who bought these religous fantics to power in the first place.’

      Yes it most certainly was. There is no getting round this one.

      Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say they brought them to power, but used them to achieve their goals and left the region in turmoil.

      I also blame the Saudis and the Pakistani military for always doing the US bidding. Whether it was providing funds or mobilising individuals on the false pretext that they were working for Islam, to rid the country of a heathen occupaton. When they were simply delivering on a US policy, fighting wars the US was too cowardly to undertake. The Berlin wall would not have fallen without the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

    7. Shamit — on 4th April, 2009 at 12:21 pm  

      Blah — you lost the debate in the other thread as Munir and now you want to come here and try the same stupid asinine arguments here.

      You are so similar to those BJP idiots that it would have been amusing if it wasn’t so sad.

    8. Sofia — on 4th April, 2009 at 12:21 pm  

      the video made me sick…however, this isn’t just a ‘taliban’ thing…it goes on in a lot of areas of the sub continent…it’s sad that pakistan seems to be a two tier nation with a bunch of crazies in power vying for more power with a bunch of crazies within and over the border…

    9. Sid — on 4th April, 2009 at 12:26 pm  

      Video of girl’s flogging as Taliban hand out justice - at the Guardian. Well done for them publishing this.

      It’s quite a sad state of affairs when we have to congratulate a well regarded left-leaning liberal newspaper for publishing news and reportage on an item of extreme shari’a implementation.

    10. Sid — on 4th April, 2009 at 12:26 pm  

      And what Sofia said.

    11. Shamit — on 4th April, 2009 at 12:28 pm  


      here you go again to refresh your memory


    12. sonia — on 4th April, 2009 at 1:18 pm  

      i couldn’t bring myself to watch such a video

      fatima bhutto - “This is not our kind of Islam” - interesting read

    13. soru — on 4th April, 2009 at 1:33 pm  

      The government in Afganistan are in the process of interducing more ant-women Laws and this is our Karzi

      let the Afgan people decide what kind of Law they want to live under

      There’s really a basic contradiction here, which is what you get when you just repeat soundbites instead of thinking. Short of a sudden rebirth of formal empire, Afghans _will_ get to decide their own laws. The question is, the mechanism for making those decisions can be either:

      1. Holding a war
      2. Holding elections

      Neither process will be free of outside interference, so there is nothing much to choose from there. The proportion of weapons used in a civil war manufactured locally would be close to zero, and the proportion of funds raised locally (e.g. from domestic heroin sales) would be close to that. And the Taliban almost certainly have a higher proportion of non-Afghans fighting on their side than the elected government (just the government’s allies have bigger guns).

      The heart of the matter is whether wars, or elections, confer legitimacy. Some strands of Islamists have good scriptural quotes to back the answer of ‘war’. It’s sort of like the old medieval idea of trial by combat - if you win, you were intended to.

      I always find it strange, though, when I see people from a Western left-liberal tradition take the same might-makes-right stance. If you set up some artificial situation where the Taliban were fighting the government on a level killing field with equal weapons and no outside help, they might well ‘win’.

      Some people seem to think that matters. But I bet they couldn’t explain why.

    14. comrade — on 4th April, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

      Refresh, Just a bit more addition to you comments, by the way did you read that article on violence by the Indian revolutionary Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

      The Saudis provided money to set up the Mardassas in Pakistan, they also provide assistant to Islamic groups in Iraq. Most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudis.
      The Saudis are now bank rolling Islamic groups in the former Soviet Republics. All this can’t be happening without the US backing. Do you think it will help if we bomb the Saudis?

    15. opit — on 4th April, 2009 at 1:58 pm  

      The reason it matters is that the Taliban were the former government. U.S. policy in Somalia and Iraq both was to destroy such native authority and demonize resistance as insurrection rather than recognize resistance to foreign interference.
      Putting that in the only context and comparison that seems to reach Americans : the British are using troops to hold us hostage to their will and taxes, we must throw them out ! ( American Revolutionary War )
      Right here on this blog is an insistance that the U.S. can decide on the basis of its own inbred and media-whipped ignorance it knows better what to do in Afghanistan and more than the people immersed in the culture, traditions and history of the area.
      It’s called setting up a puppet government.
      In Iraq the execution of Saddam was not greeted with the cries of joy one might have expected at their release from tyranny. Their take ? “American Puppet Theater !” They had sad familiarity with foreign interference - a kind phrase for bombing civilians in their homes and human target practice being touted as a solution for instability.
      Conveniently, nobody ever remembers the unanimous assessment of 16 American intelligence agencies prior to George Bush’s Excellent Adventure via their National Intelligence Estimate : the Global War on Terror and invasion of Iraq would in fact serve to increase terrorism.

    16. cjcjc — on 4th April, 2009 at 1:59 pm  

      Isn’t Obama’s strategy the same as Bush’s strategy?

    17. douglas clark — on 4th April, 2009 at 2:07 pm  


      Some people seem to think that matters. But I bet they couldn’t explain why.

      I think you are laying out an agenda here that is a bit skew-whiff.

      There is actually no arguement against the ‘right makes right’ tradition. It is why we have an almost all encompassing belief that winning WW2, for instance, was a good thing. It is history written by the victors, right enough.

      My point, meagre though it is, is that within a winning society, whether it’s the Romans or the Brits or the USA, to quote three Empires, there are always folk who do want to move humanity forward. It is, argueably because they won, that they can take that point of view. It is also argueably because their societies eventually extended their rights of citizenship beyond their traditional models.

      I think there is a PhD thesis in that. Or at least a good book.

    18. platinum786 — on 4th April, 2009 at 3:20 pm  

      Pressure must be put on the Pakistani government to properly address it’s needs to tackle and combat this. There are programmes to spend billions updating the Frontier Corp into a specialized anti terrorist force but that will take a while, this menace needs to be defeated now.

      The signing of the “peace deal” in Swat was effectively a surrender, the Pakistani military was not equipped to fight a war without intelligence. The US has access to drones and satellites, the Pak Military lacks that capability as well as ground intelligence in the area. The military was being asked to crack a nut with a sledge hammer, and that was not possible. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are in camps, towns have been flattened, but until you have sophisticated intelligence such as drones and satellites, you can’t begin to target these people effectively. Faced with a military attack, they melt into the towns and villages and hills and then attack randomly.

      All this needs to be addressed by Pakistan and NATO, because if we’re going to win this war, it has to be together.

      Afghanistan is also a part of the problem, you’ll never get the liberal democratic Afghanistan that neo cons told you you’d get and lefties hope you’ll get. Afghan society is divided, racist, sexist, uneducated and most people don’t remember a time without war. You have to work with what you have got. You need to give the tribes a fair share of power and influence and funds at a central level, the same tribes backing the Taliban, and if they have power, they don’t need the Taliban, you’ll see the ranks of the Taliban reduce and the areas in which they can operate reduce.

      Eventually a deal will have to be struck with the Taliban too, but they must be weakened and severally slowed down before they can be split, and eventually disintegrated.

    19. comrade — on 4th April, 2009 at 4:17 pm  


      but until you have sophisticated intelligence such as drones and satellites, you can’t begin to target these people effectively

      The US have all these in Afghanistan and they are not having any success. Nearly 2,000 civillians have been killed, half of these by the US. One Army General said, you need half million troops to contain the Teleban let alone win the war. How long will the West be able to finance this war, with the current economical crisis. Apart from the US and UK no other NATO country is really willing to send in extra troops. Obama in is speech did not mention the Teleban, unless I missed some extract. He stressed, is first priority is to fight AL-Kedia and the rest comes after. Worring thing is that the Indian Sub Continent will be dragged into this conflict unless a political solution is found soon.

    20. soru — on 4th April, 2009 at 4:38 pm  

      The reason it matters is that the Taliban were the former government.

      Actually, I don’t see that there is any sense in which they were the former government:

      - they were never formally recognised internationally.
      - even with considerable Pakistani/Saudi/US support, they never won their civil war, never militarily held the whole country, only Kabul and the South.
      - they didn’t inherit any traditional authority or mandate.
      - they never held an election.
      - they killed more Afghans than most diseases.

      There is actually no arguement against the ‘right makes right’ tradition. It is why we have an almost all encompassing belief that winning WW2, for instance, was a good thing.

      Wouldn’t that mean that, as Hitler would probably have won WWII without US intervention, he was in the right?

      There’s a difference between the cynical but not-wrong understanding that the winners write the history books, and the pseudo-religious feeling that war should be a kind of ritual duel with no outside interference, in order to properly divine the Will of the Almighty.

      That aside, platinum786 is essentially right. There is a big gap between _democracy_ as a process for settling disputes without war, and _liberal democracy_ where the result is what liberals would vote for.

      Given 30 years of peace, likely that gap would narrow. But the only way to get that peace is through stability. That means the outside context, external influences, should be as consistent as possible. Not invasion one year then abandonment the next, not waxing and waning support for different factions by different geopolitical players.

      Just consistent economic, political and military support for the elected government, working within a framework agreed between NATO and that government, with Pakistan, Iran and Russia all consulted as appropriate.

    21. marvin — on 4th April, 2009 at 4:49 pm  

      Isn’t Obama’s strategy the same as Bush’s strategy?

      Everything’s fine now. It’s Obama.

      I remember the big hoohah about the stupid and patronising Bush putting his arm around the Queen. Michelle did it too!

    22. Shamit — on 4th April, 2009 at 4:53 pm  

      I hardly ever agree with Platinum786 but on this occasion he is absolutely spot on. Well said Platinum.
      And Soru’s thoughtful comments resonate with me too.

      Well said gents.

      Comrade - I am not sure what you are suggesting. I guess you want us to cut and run. How is that going to help security not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan, India and in the West here

      Talking about political solution — well the Pakistani Government tried that in SWAT — and the result is this post by Sunny which highlights when you go about trying to make political solutions with nutters. The Taliban has no political objective except to impose their version of Sharia on all.

      I am sorry but I disagree — we have a responsibility especially now to back Pakistan. If we don’t do it, the situation would be far worse in South Asia.

      And even if we accept your suggestion of a political solution — I would like to know what do you think we should offer to Taliban — on what basis should we hold the negotiations? I would like to know.

    23. Shamit — on 4th April, 2009 at 4:56 pm  

      Interesting update though…all those who thought that Europe would back US with troops In Afghanistan after Bush left office must rethink again.

      Also, I had always argued that foreign policy of US is not going to change irrespective of who becomes President of the US. The rhetoric and Camp Gitmo would change but not the essence — and I was told I was wrong. Those who said so know who they are

      Well — I think I was right about no change in the essence of foreign policy.

    24. opit — on 4th April, 2009 at 5:17 pm  

      Who could doubt it ? It doesn’t matter how many times or in how many ways it can be shown that what is happening is destructive and irredeemable, the response is “We cannot evade our responsibilities.”
      Quite a line, isn’t it ? We cannot stop doing wrong because we must do something ! What am I missing here ?
      I liked this one

    25. Shamit — on 4th April, 2009 at 5:47 pm  

      Significant difference has been made in the lives of the Afghan people and especially women.

      And the amount of infrastructure including schools and hospitals we have built — not only us but India, China — everyone pitched in.

      So, I am not going to apologise for what is happening there and our efforts.

      But again what would you suggest should be done? Leave and let Taliban take over Afghanistan and Pakistan and a nuclear war ensures between India and Pakistan. God give me a break.

    26. Bert Rustle — on 4th April, 2009 at 5:54 pm  


      … There can be no question that [Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup; General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff], in their own ways, are delusional – if not something worse. If Stirrup thinks the strategy was right, and Dannatt thinks the campaign is “increasingly becoming successful”, then they are in the land of the fairies – or lying through their teeth.

      Either way, they should not be allowed to get away with it. Their bland – some might say, smug, self-serving and complacent – statements should be challenged in a public forum, argued over and fully explored. And neither is this a sterile, empty exercise. In a functioning democracy, this is how the military is brought to account, forced to take stock and improve its performance. …

    27. comrade — on 4th April, 2009 at 7:44 pm  

      Shamit, Ombama has allready suggested that is ready to talk to the moderate section of the Teleban, what road that will take I can not say, one thing I am sure is that the Teleban will demand the full withdrawal of all foreign forces. All major conflicts have ended in round table negotiations. The US cannot win this war, even the British Army person has admitted this. No US president wants to be the one to accept that all the overwelming military might of the US,all its expensive and awesome modern technogy, can be defeated by peasants in flipflops. So the war drags on with out any end in sight.

      Shamit, you seem to conterdict yourself, on the one hand you point out that Pakistan regime has given into the Teleban, on the hand you suggest we fully back them. The US has been fully backing this regimes regardless who was in power, We had a say in the 80s that Pakistan was ruled by 3 A’s Allah, Army and America, this is still true today.
      Shamit, maybe you can shed some light, as to why that region is in such shit

    28. Amrit — on 4th April, 2009 at 11:16 pm  


      Significant difference has been made in the lives of the Afghan people and especially women.

      Er… any progress that may have been made is now looking set to be threatened. I take it you didn’t see the previous thread by Rumbold?

    29. Shamit — on 5th April, 2009 at 12:40 am  


      Of course I am aware of it and I made a few comments on that thread too.

      Considering the position of women in Afghanistan in 2001 and compare it to today — there has been significant progress. Out of 350 odd legislators in the country 89 are women — further, many women are running businesses not only in Kabul but elsewhere as well and schools and colleges for girls are open again. We have women professionals in Afghanistan able to practice their profession.

      The law which is currently being reviewed in Afghanistan would push back much of these progresses that we see today — and I guess because we have troops there, and putting in money for infrastructure and education as well as economy — we have influence now. And that is why the law is being reviewed and would be changed most likely.

      If we pull out troops and money (and without our troops the money is as good as going to Taliban) then imagine what the condition of the women would be.

      So while there is much to be done, the achievements of Afghan women over the past few years should not be knocked down. And because of that this stupid law should be changed and our presence both in military and development structures would ensure that the progress made is not knocked back.

      The world would not tolerate any more gas chambers irrespective of where it happens — why should the we tolerate Taliban mentality — or do we wait until they have killed millions. We tried to appease Hitler, it did not do us much good — why should we try to appease this barbaric mentality to whom women are nothing but commodities.

      Change is not going to happen overnight — but in the last five years there have been positive changes but they are far too few than desired. Question is should we leave now and leave it to Taliban and endanger our own security — obviously we have to give up hope on an Afghan civil society and literally forget about girls going to school — And I do not want that Afghanistan because that would again become a breeding ground and safe heaven for terrorists.

      That is why I think we need to get in there and stay there and support not only Afghanistan but the resurgent civil society in Pakistan. It is not only a battle of force but also a battle of ideas — and we should win both.

      At least that’s what I think.

    30. Sunny — on 5th April, 2009 at 1:36 am  

      Isn’t Obama’s strategy the same as Bush’s strategy?

      Except Obama was never stupid enough to advocate, support or want the war in Iraq - which has made Afghanistan eve more volatile. His strategy is to pull out of Iraq and make Afghanistan work - not Bush’s strategy. And one I agree with.

    31. Leon — on 5th April, 2009 at 3:30 am  

      It’s going to fail, Obama’s has even hinted as much, no one wins in Afghanistan…this is going to be Obama’s Vietnam.

    32. halima — on 5th April, 2009 at 6:02 am  

      I think many of us are missing the bigger picture.

      It seems to me that at some point (i.e. now) we might want to make a difficult decision about our continued engagement in Afghanistan: to stay in and try and sort out problems in Afghanistan which is continuing to destabilize Pakistan - or decide when it’s still timely - that the bigger show in town is Pakistan .

      De-stabilization in a nuclear armed Pakistan is far worse.

      This to me seems to be the real strategic choice.

      I am sure we will come to this conclusion in 6-9 months time.

      Human rights. I think the way to effectively combat this, is by enabling and empowering the multilateral system, which has far more legitimacy than bilteral actions.

    33. halima — on 5th April, 2009 at 6:03 am  

      Interestingly enough, i mentioned this some time back in Pickled Politics, but when I was in school in England, rape within marriage was still not considered an offence, and English law was revised to follow the Scottish model. Until then, a man could have forced sex with his wife - and for it not to be punishable under English law. Folks at F word might have more institutional memory of this…

      Tackling issues like violence against women takes both changes in the law , and changes in social attitudes that make such behaviour permissible. The latter is going to take much longer in Afghanistan , but we can’t effectively stamp out gender based violence in South Asia just through the law.

    34. halima — on 5th April, 2009 at 6:16 am  

      PS I bumped into a friend recently who had just got back from Kabul. I asked him how things were in Kabul and made the usual comment of , “things must be tough in Kabul and good we have troops there..” as you do to make small talk …

      The friend, who heads up a well known international NGO, replied, ” You must be joking if you think the Americans or the British could stabilize or indeed, win the war in Afghanistan. I was there in 1979 and in the early 1980s when the Soviets were trying to fight in Afghanistan - and the Russians were far more vicious than the Anglo-Saxons - and if they couldn’t conquer Afghanistan, this lot with their human rights liability don’t have a hope in hell.”

    35. Bert Rustle — on 5th April, 2009 at 7:12 am  

      What proportion of those championing the rights of women in Afghanistan are in the Regular Army or at least the Territorial Army?

      Of these, what proportion are willing to fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan?

      Would they outnumber those British Subjects fighting with the Taliban?

    36. Ashik — on 5th April, 2009 at 10:51 am  

      ‘Why the Taliban should never come to power’

      Not even through the electoral process? It seems the Taliban do have support in the country.

      If groups like BJP, RSS, Shiv Sena, Jamaat, even Awami League and BNP can come to power in South Asia then so can Taliban. They all have similar attitudes to women/minorities. Merely a matter of degree.

    37. persephone — on 5th April, 2009 at 10:53 am  

      ”You must be joking if you think the Americans or the British could stabilize or indeed, win the war in Afghanistan.”

      Agree since the mentality is that those westernised, secular or even democratic are seen negatively.

    38. persephone — on 5th April, 2009 at 10:57 am  

      “Merely a matter of degree.”

      Merely says it all.

      The matter of degree being death or a public flogging if you are lucky and without a trial or cogent evidence

    39. Ashik — on 5th April, 2009 at 11:28 am  

      Persephone, can you name me one mainstream South Asian political group which in practice (rather than theoeretical policy) treats women as equals? Even the notionally liberal and rational groups make massive concessions to people’s religious sentiment, which is often patriarchial eg. in Bangladesh the Awami League signed a memorandum with religious groups saying they would not contravene Islamic laws.

      Personally I think there is little degree of difference between the ’secular’ Indian Congress (or BJP during Gujrat riots) participating and encouraging in the deaths, rape, loot of Sikhs after Indira’s death and a girl being flogged, raped etc by the Taliban.

      More like some PP’ers more willing to excuse and overlook one type of female oppression than another due to political preferences.

      If the Taliban are elected in free and fair elections then we should respect democracy and accept it-even if we abhor the party, as we tolerate the British National Party despite their odious beliefs.

    40. halima — on 5th April, 2009 at 12:19 pm  

      “Agree since the mentality is that those westernised, secular or even democratic are seen negatively.”

      Hi Perse, I should’ve qualified, the person making the statement was in fact, a Norwegian. They tend to see Anglo-Saxon divides - even in the ‘western’ camp.

      His point was , that for lots of reasons, Afghanistan, is difficult to govern, and historically has been so, and if the Russians couldn’t manage ( and they can be far more brutal than what the Anglo-Saxons are capable of), then no one can.

    41. soru — on 5th April, 2009 at 12:37 pm  

      ‘Not even through the electoral process?’

      A Taliban that stands for election is not the Taliban.

    42. comrade — on 5th April, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

      Did you ask your freind what progress the US led Government was making in Afganistan, by Which I mean, building the infrastruture, roads, houses airport, bridges, schools and so on. What is done to create jobs for the unemployed, What is done to leviate poverty in the Coutry. Is opium still the main source of income for the Afghans. Does the US led government have any control outside of Kabul?

      The Afghan government is in the Process of impleamenting Sharia law in the country, I am not sure how true is this. If this is true, Will we continue to support the US led government? would we not then support the oppression of women and other basic human rights

    43. halima — on 5th April, 2009 at 1:06 pm  


      I guess my friend was arguing it’s difficult to stabilize , or to use another euphenism, colonise, Afghanistan. The issue isn’t about whether US/Russian involvement is good. The issue is whether it is governable. Something tells me the terrain makes it impossible.

    44. Arif — on 5th April, 2009 at 9:22 pm  

      It is likely that Obama’s strategy is more sophisticated than the way it is portrayed in the mass media. But, going on what I see in the mass media, it seems obvious to me to make things worse. The rhetoric of an Afpak strategy which is more than a military policy seems to be translating in practice into turning Pakistan into the theatre of war to get the heat out of Afghanistan.

      Maybe the calculation is that a war would be easier to win on Pakistani terrain. Or that it can only be won if Pakistan is also occupied and “detalibanised” by force.

      Even if this is the intention and if there are good intelligence based reasons to believe this would be a successful strategy - I doubt that the victorious powers, having started a civil war in Pakistan, would be interested in a continued occupation in order to prevent total state failure, nor able to promote meaningful economic development or human rights within an occupation.

      So while I am constantly amazed by how much better Obama is than any US president I could have imagined before, I think he seems to be getting Afghanistan/Pakistan wrong. On the other hand - he may be talking to the Taliban as well as other political actors below the mass media radar and the troop surge could be a smokescreen which will eventually be deployed to implement a negotiated political solution bringing together the various secular and religious factions. That’s my hope.

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