• Family

    • Liberal Conspiracy
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr. Mitu Khurana
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feminism for non-lefties
    • Feministing
    • Gender Bytes
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Statesman blogs
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Douglas Clark's saloon
    • Earwicga
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Rita Banerji
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Southall Black Sisters
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head

  • The case for staying in Afghanistan


    by Sunny
    13th July, 2009 at 5:38 pm    

    I’ve always supported the war in Afghanistan. In fact I even sympathised with the invasion because, I felt it was necessary to take out the Taliban. Rumbold has already written about some of the military reasoning but that doesn’t go far enough. This is a slightly different case.

    The Taliban were a Pakistani intelligence services creation, heavily funded by them so they could help Pakistan gain more control over Afghanistan. The game of trying to control Afghanistan has been played for decades - with the Russians, Americans, Iranians and Indians also doing their best to influence the situation. The Taliban were - for Pakistan - a proxy force in the same way that jihadi groups like Laskhar e-Taiba were useful in creating trouble in Kashmir and used to influence events.

    I was for the original invasion because I felt the existence of the Taliban would eventually destabilise Pakistan (as is happening) and India. If Indian sovereignty was threatened then we’d be looking at war between India and Pakistan. We’re at a dangerous phase now where the Taliban are becoming more organised. They’re grouping their resources together to actively take over territory, not just fight a war of resistance against the US and Afghani armies. If we leave that area now then a more brutal civil war is sure to follow.

    To argue that the Taliban are simply local people looking to gain independence is simply fatuous. These people are mercenaries who want to turn South Asia into their version of the Caliphate. Their attempted take-over of parts of Pakistan - and the willingness to terrorise local populations to get power - is evidence of that.

    Is the place beyond redemption? I don’t think it is, yet. Though we’re close. The tidal change in opinion in Pakistan against the Taliban needs to go further. As I have said before on PP - it will be a while before many ordinary Pakistanis see how vile the Taliban are. Until that clash between the Pakistani army and the Taliban happens properly, and the latter are defeated, the menace will be ready to come back. And then the USA and/or UK will have to intervene again.

    The priority right now should be to assist Pakistan in regaining its territory and defeating the Taliban. Pakistan has to be won over to properly defeat the Taliban. It’s going to be a long fight but it’s not an impossible one. Instead of focusing on Iraq our focus should always have been on Afghanistan, and is only belatedly returning thanks to Obama.

    Update: Conor Foley has written an excellent related article, from a humanitarian workers point of view.


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: Current affairs,Middle East,South Asia






    80 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. pickles

      New blog post: The case for staying in Afghanistan http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5145


    2. No simple solutions for Afghanistan « The Bleeding Heart Show

      [...] in Afghanistan and the regional strategy being pursued by the Obama administration. Whilst I think Sunny’s case for continuing to fight Afghanistan’s heavily-armed, well-organised & utterly mercenary [...]


    3. Liberal Conspiracy » No simple solutions to Afghanistan

      [...] in Afghanistan and the regional strategy being pursued by the Obama administration. Whilst I think Sunny’s case for continuing to fight Afghanistan’s heavily-armed, well-organised & utterly mercenary [...]


    4. Whether they’re champions of secular de… | Marriage Blog

      [...] they’re champions of secular democracy, campaigners for racial equality, or liberal Sufis from California, the war in Afghanistan is the chance for liberalism’s [...]


    5. pickles

      I know this won’t make lefties happy, but I’m still FOR us staying in Afghanistan. http://bit.ly/138nao


    6. You Know Politics is Upside Down When… 

      [...] …Sunny Hundal supports the war in Afghanistan … and EU Referendum blog says we should withdraw. [...]




    1. Leon — on 13th July, 2009 at 5:55 pm  

      Lol PP the pro war blog…so much for liberal humanitarianism.

    2. Alan — on 13th July, 2009 at 6:06 pm  

      If you really support phosphor bombs on boys and girls and women and families book a ticket to Kabul, buy an AK47. Go and help out.

    3. Sunny — on 13th July, 2009 at 6:18 pm  

      In the long term, trying to stabilise Afghanistan is way more humanitarian than leaving the place as it is.

    4. davebones — on 13th July, 2009 at 6:39 pm  

      I am not sure any of them have the remotest concept of Afghanistan let alone the stabilization of the place. I don’t agree with Shariah law, I don’t want to see a worldwide Islamic state but to say English people are in anyway entitled to bomb Afghan people in their own country would be to justify Afghans bombing over here and I can’t do either.

    5. dave bones — on 13th July, 2009 at 7:31 pm  

      A ten year old told me a while back that when he grew up he wanted to fight the Taliban. That just felt wrong to me. I thought someone was training the kid for some sort of Jihad Sunny. I can’t see a long war like this producing anything good or protecting us from terr-ism.

    6. Random Guy — on 13th July, 2009 at 7:42 pm  

      If you are ‘for’ western imperialism and all the joys it brings, then good luck to you my friend.

    7. munir — on 13th July, 2009 at 7:45 pm  

      The hatred towards Islam of many American (and some British ) soldiers is the Talibans greatest recruiting sergeant

    8. Sunny — on 13th July, 2009 at 7:59 pm  

      The hatred towards Islam of many American (and some British ) soldiers is the Talibans greatest recruiting sergeant

      The Taliban didn’t have trouble recruiting when they were taking over Afghanistan, did they?

    9. Sunny — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:01 pm  

      Random guy - I’ll still take American soldiers over the Taliban any day thanks. And I’m sure most Afghanis would too.

    10. Shamit — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:07 pm  

      Spot on Sunny @9.

      And on this one Obama is 100% correct. And he is the main reason why we have a renewed focus on Afghanistan.

      ************************************

      Dave - Munir - Random Guy -

      http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1761&ctl=Details&mid=1892&ItemID=4665

      Please check that link out.

      I received a press release from United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan which sets out that terrorism kills more Afghan civilians than any military action.

      Did you lot hear about the Taliban blowing up a madrasah today after their teacher said what Taliban is doing wrong?

      Which world do you lot live in?

      ****************************************

    11. munir — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:23 pm  

      Sunny
      “The Taliban didn’t have trouble recruiting when they were taking over Afghanistan, did they?”

      Then they were seen as “saviours”- they brought stability and peace after 20 years of war. But their rule alienated people. There only hope to get recruits is to argue its a war against Islam -something neocons and Islamophobes seem to be pushing

    12. Scots Tiger — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:26 pm  

      Dump the military mission to Afghanistan and dump the wretched Afghans, too. War in Afghanistan is their business, not ours.

      There are scores, even hundreds, of young Afghans in Calais and elsewhere in Europe howling and wailing for asylum. Send them home to Afghanistan, arm them and tell them to defend their country, not run away from it in its hour of need.

      A recent news item tells us that Karzai has signed his approval of legislation permitting sexually-deprived husbands to starve their wives until they are more submissive and obedient.

      The dumbest Georgie squaddie should not have to risk his left little finger in defence of such vile laws and such grotesque people.

      You all know that Karzai owns a cute little palace on one of the Dubai Palm Islands, don’t you? Affording it on his official salary tells us what a good money manager he is. Or does it tell us something very different?

    13. Shamit — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:28 pm  

      “There only hope to get recruits is to argue its a war against Islam”

      No sane person views this as a war against Islam and anyone who does it is stupid.

      The victims of Taliban are Muslim - so I don’t know how could anyone present it as a war against Islam. However, I do agree there are some nutters who try to make that case

      I actually agree with your assertion that Afghan people in the initial stages did back Taliban as they created a sense of stability — but that support disappeared soon enough.

    14. Paul Moloney — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:29 pm  

      “If you really support phosphor bombs on boys and girls and women and families book a ticket to Kabul, buy an AK47. Go and help out.”

      Conversely, if you really support religious fundamentalists who shoot women in the back of the head in football stadiums, you go and help them out.

      P.

    15. Vikrant — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:30 pm  

      Which world do you lot live in?

      Spot on Shamit. Afghan Taliban is little more than a vast criminal drug running organisation which acts for its ISI paymasters than anything else. An American soldier was captured in Afghanistan recently, and apparently he was traded with by local Taliban to their highers ups.. Honourless cowards that what they are… What sort of people would strap c4 to a 11 year old and send them off to a crowded market place.

    16. munir — on 13th July, 2009 at 8:46 pm  

      Shamit
      “The victims of Taliban are Muslim – so I don’t know how could anyone present it as a war against Islam. However, I do agree there are some nutters who try to make that case”

      Afghanistan is 100% Muslim so in a civil war the only people who will die will be Muslims. The only people fighting the non-Muslim troops in Afghanistan are people grouped together under the title “Taliban”. If these non Muslims are seen as fighting Islam then Taliban support will grow

      The fact people like Vikrant or Paul Maloney are so pro-the war reiterates this point if only in minature

    17. dave bones — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:00 pm  

      Shamit I wouldn’t “support” the Taliban, I just would question what British troops are doing in Afghanistan. I can’t really agree with jihad on either side. I don’t think it will be over anytime soon. If the ten year old I know grows up to fullfil his ambition to fight the Taliban how do I know things wont have got so bitter that it wont have escalated into a war with Islam by then?

      This is so much less than black and white. Who drew the line which split up the Pashtun nation in the first place? The psychology of all this is wrong. It won’t fo any good. It is always so tempting to view it so simply.

    18. soru — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:05 pm  

      “If you really support phosphor bombs on boys and girls and women and families book a ticket to Kabul, buy an AK47.”

      It’s worth pointing out that the only forces shown to have used incendiary weapons in Afghanistan are the taliban.

      http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/20090705_The_Taliban_strikes_back_in_Afghanistan.html

      As they want to win popular support, and in any cases have few restrictions on available conventional firepower, it would be foolish for the Afghan government or their allies to use unconventional weapons.

      They are much more practical for those buying weapons in Pakistan and smuggling them across the border.

    19. Kulvinder — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:35 pm  

      Afghanistan is 100% Muslim so in a civil war the only people who will die will be Muslims. The only people fighting the non-Muslim troops in Afghanistan are people grouped together under the title “Taliban”. If these non Muslims are seen as fighting Islam then Taliban support will grow

      The swing in public opinion would be so great it would unprecedented. Depending on how ask the question and whether you’re asking afghan support for bin laden/al queda/the taliban the ‘unfavourable opinions’ range in the 80/90%.

      Whilst the afghan public has been critical about NATO bombing of late (and which has prompted a shift to using air strikes less often), any negative opinion has never shown itself as support for the taliban. No taliban linked political movement has ever looked likely to do well in any afghan election, and the taliban have explicitly called for elections to be boycotted.

      Not only that, afghan nationalist sentiment is apparently stronger than their cross-national religious identity. They support the afghan national army in fighting the taliban and don’t see them as ‘traitors’.

      The more the taliban fight the ana from their pakistan bases the more afghan support for the afghan army grows.

    20. whyisthemediaignoringthis? — on 13th July, 2009 at 9:49 pm  

      Why isn’t the trial of a man charged with preparing for terror attacks using tennis-ball bombs being reported? He’s not a bearded Muslim
      Imagine, for a moment, that Neil Lewington, who is on trial at the Old Bailey for preparing for a “campaign of terrorism” using tennis-ball bombs, was a British Muslim. The story would be splashed across the front page of every newspaper in Britain, and Sky News would be rolling a loop of images of his scowling, bearded, dark face.

      The reality, however, is that you’ve probably never heard of Lewington (who denies all eight charges of terrorism) because he is not Muslim, or black, or of Asian origin. He is white. And our gloriously impartial, truth-seeking, “colour-blind” media don’t seem to care. The coverage of the Lewington trial has been negligible – a few short stories buried deep inside a handful of newspapers, but, as I write, no rolling coverage on Sky News, and not a peep on the main BBC news bulletins or on Newsnight.

      One veteran home affairs correspondent told me he had asked his editors why the Lewington trial wasn’t being covered. “They didn’t want to hear about it,” he said. “They just weren’t interested. It’s outrageous.”

      http://www.newstatesman.com/2009/07/muslim-terrorism-white-british

    21. Mark — on 13th July, 2009 at 10:40 pm  

      Brilliant and wise post, Sunny.

      I would add that it is worth remembering that every single opinion poll done on the subject has shown overwhelming majorities of the Afghan population desiring coalition forces to stay in the country to ensure stability.

    22. Jim — on 13th July, 2009 at 10:48 pm  

      While I can’t fault any of the points you made in this post, how do you actually see us winning this war? In real ground-level terms? The Soviets were there for 9 years and left defeated and humiliated, what makes you think that it will be any different for us?

    23. Random Guy — on 13th July, 2009 at 11:11 pm  

      Sunny @ 9: I wouldn’t be so sure. You might take American soldiers over the Taliban any day, although from your current viewpoint it sure looks nice and rosy with the stars and stripes. I am not advocating the Taliban, but I know who was responsible for propping them up against the USSR….are you so sure the average Afghan would take the US Troops over the Taliban? Looking at recent developments, and with the Taliban being viewed as a local Pashtun resistance by many, I would rethink your statement.

    24. Leon — on 13th July, 2009 at 11:11 pm  

      In the long term, trying to stabilise Afghanistan is way more humanitarian than leaving the place as it is.

      Same was said about Iraq. Doesn’t matter how many people are killed or which global powers’ corporations reap the benefit then..?

    25. Sunny — on 14th July, 2009 at 12:08 am  

      how do you actually see us winning this war?

      We need Pakistan’s help on this whether they like it or not. With the recent conflict between the Pakistani army and the Taliban - I think we’re moving towards that state of affairs.

      Random guy - are you so sure the average Afghan would take the US Troops over the Taliban?

      err yes - all the polls (even those not taken by the US) show that to be the case. The Afghanis never enjoyed life under the Taliban and I doubt they will start now. They want independence, but not on the side of the Taliban.

      Same was said about Iraq. Doesn’t matter how many people are killed or which global powers’ corporations reap the benefit then..?

      I treat situations on a case by case basis - and was never for the invasion of Iraq. Again, as I keep pointing out - the number of people killed will be far higher if we let the Taliban take over.

    26. Anon — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:20 am  

      This is a really stupid article. The basic problem is that Sunny doesn’t know much about the subject, and is just looking for justifications for his mistaken position of backing military intervention in Afghanistan.

      He writes: “The Taliban were a Pakistani intelligence services creation, heavily funded by them so they could help Pakistan gain more control over Afghanistan.”

      This is just nonsense. The Taliban were an indigenous development, a spontaneous response to the descent into lawlessness and banditry that followed the defeat of the Najibullah regime in 1992.

      So far as the Taliban received support from the Pakistani state in its initial phase of development, it was from Benazir Bhutto’s government, who had links to the Taliban via the Islamist political party the JUI, which was part of the PPP-led governing coalition.

      One of the reasons why the Bhutto government supported the Taliban was that they wanted to develop a rival Afghanistan strategy to that of the intelligence service, the ISI, which at that point was still supporting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who had been their proxy in Afghan politics since the 1970s. It wasn’t until later in 1995, after Hekmatyar had been defeated by the Taliban, that the ISI changed its line and threw its weight behind the Taliban.

      The reason why Sunny prefers his distorted account of the rise of the Taliban is obvious. It allows him to assert: “To argue that the Taliban are simply local people looking to gain independence is simply fatuous. These people are mercenaries….”

      Even David Miliband has a better understanding of the roots of the current Taliban insurgency than Sunny does.

      Sunny accuses the Afghan Taliban of wanting to “turn South Asia into their version of the Caliphate. Their attempted take-over of parts of Pakistan – and the willingness to terrorise local populations to get power – is evidence of that.”

      Again, this is a self-justifying fantasy that has no basis in fact. The various terrorist groups in Pakistan are not acting at the behest of the Afghan Taliban, as part of some Taliban-sponsored master plan to take over South Asia. They are pursuing their own aims and objectives, which in fact conflict with those of the Afghan Taliban.

      The latter have long argued that militant groups in Pakistan should (1) avoid waging war in Pakistan itself, (2) stop targeting civilians and (3) concentrate on the task of resisting NATO forces in Afghanistan.

      The Afghan Taliban repeatedly urged Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud to adopt this line, but he rejected their advice. This led to the emergence of an opposition within the TTP around Qari Zainuddin, who publicly declared himself to be aligned with the Afghan Taliban and promoted their strategy against that of the TTP leadership. As a result, Qari Zainuddin was assassinated, presumably under instructions from Baitullah Mehsud. Relations between the Afghan Taliban and the TTP have broken now down completely and Taliban-sympathising Deobandists are denouncing the TTP as enemies of Islam.

      In short, Sunny is defending an imperialist military strategy in Afghanistan, which has led to the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians and increasing numbers of British soldiers, without having bothered to carry out even minimal research into the subject. He should be ashamed of himself.

    27. Halima — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:27 am  

      Pakistan might be the prize worth fighting for - the prize would be to prevent it from sliding into more chaos.

      Afghanistan has never been easy to stabilise, unify or pacify.

      Just finished reading William Boyd’s ‘A Good Man in Africa’ about a fictitious African state where Europeans are involved in trying to back some winning local party in the election. In typical fashion they back the wrong horse, and then become complicit in the country’s efforts to rid both the despotic new party and its perceived foreign backers. Of coarse i am only talking about fiction. Real life is even more dramatic and even less predictable.

    28. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:30 am  

      Anon

      “In short, Sunny is defending an imperialist military strategy in Afghanistan, which has led to the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians and increasing numbers of British soldiers”

      It is not imperialist you stupid idiot. What happens in Afghanistan do matter to us in the West? Or have you forgotten 9/11.

      “he should be ashamed of himself”

      Really — maybe you should be for trying to paint Afghan Taliban as this patriotic group.

      Get over your self righteous stupidity - moron.

    29. Random Guy — on 14th July, 2009 at 8:07 am  

      Shamit @ 31, 9/11 was arguably inevitable given the U.S’s own actions and complicity in atrocities on foreign soil. Moreover, as long as the U.S. pursues similar policies going forward, another retaliatory attack will remain possible.

      What is happening in the M/E and Afghanistan IS - without an iota of doubt - Imperialist. It is illegal foreign intervention on the very shaky ideological ground of “bringing peace and democracy via shock and awe”.

      It would be handy if you could refute Anon’s comments through reason rather than insult. Otherwise its you who ends up looking like the self-righteous, stupid moron.

      I agree with Anon’s analysis of the situation, and I do think that Sunny’s support of this whole action is bizarre. But to each their own. Its easy to forget what October 2001 felt like after all these years of media bias and flawed logic.

    30. Yarnesfromhorsham — on 14th July, 2009 at 8:31 am  

      This war is a total waste of young lives and money.

      History shows that we have still not learnt the lessons of either 19C and 20C. Moreover the desire to impose a western style democracy on the country goes against its culture of local war lords and the understanding of the population.

      The UK is once again trying to punch above its weight.If we need to keep the terrorists at bay lets beef up our borders - afterall about 15000 muslims came into the country between 2003/2007 on the false premise of studyng here. How careless is that.

      Lets first achieve s higher level of security at home before we go off on political ego trips.

    31. Leon — on 14th July, 2009 at 9:20 am  

      Shamit, easy on the calling people a stupid idiot. Anon’s post contained no such attack on you.

    32. cjcjc — on 14th July, 2009 at 9:27 am  

      I am torn.
      I support Sunny’s position, but am pessimistic about the likely outcome.

      Needless to say, Brown is not helping.

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article6702904.ece

    33. Thats News — on 14th July, 2009 at 9:48 am  

      Brown is certainly not helping. In fact, he is making things worse.

      Brown is still in denial up to his neck and Dr Kelly’s death has returned to haunt the Labour government

    34. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 10:26 am  

      Leon

      Understood and accepted.

      Should have chosen better words. And apologies to all for that especially Annon.
      ***********************************
      Random Guy

      “9/11 was arguably inevitable given the U.S’s own actions and complicity in atrocities on foreign soil. Moreover, as long as the U.S. pursues similar policies going forward, another retaliatory attack will remain possible.”

      The foreign policy angles that you highlight were often a direct result of the Cold war — where both sides used other states as pawns and the Cold war was not so cold in those proxy war zones. Do I support that — no? But am I glad that the Soviet Union lost their bid? Of course. If you or anyone else is under the false impression that the world would have been a better place under Soviet dominance — maybe one should look at Eastern Europe and other nations that were ruined.

      Going forward - between 1993 - 2001, the US foreign policy was driven by Bill Clinton who by no means authorised or committed acts of atrocities on foreign soil. He even refused to sign orders to take out Osama Bin Laden and the top AQ group, repeatedly during 96-97.

      The group that led the attack on 9/11 or the ideology that have repeatedly attacked Bali, India and other places in the world, including the Muslim world has got nothing to do with foreign policy. But a lot to do with fanatical ideologues who claim to be acting on behest of their religion. These people have no state, no religion but are nothing but criminals.

      When States support those criminals, especially after 9/11, where it was quite clear that no country in this world is safe from these terrorists. What happens in Afghanistan does matter to Britain, to US, to India, to Pakistan and a whole host of other countries. The Graduate school of terrorism that flourished under Taliban in the 1990s and supported by the ISI have impacted on all of us.

      What happens in your country matters to me — because you can develop ebola viruses, or bombs or plan to destabilise my country and a whole host of other nations. Therefore, it is within our right but more importantly our responsibility to do something about the Taliban.

      Further, under pseduo-ideological and pseduo-religious governance, education often becomes the first casualty. I am for freedom of religion, and freedom of all children to have the right to be educated, to have the right to their childhood and opportunities.

      Unfortunately, successive governments with their corruption and the Cold war powerplay in Pakistan, Afghanistan have left generations without education and opportunity. The only education they often received was ideological indoctrination which has been supported by our ally Saudi Arabia. We need to change that — we need to stand up for those little girls who get their faces burnt with acid because they want to go to school. We, as the world need to stand up against those, who think killing children by blowing up schools is an acceptable way to fight against those who condemn their ideology.

      When will the world actually stand up for the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights — which some islamic states have almost forced the UN to ammend to say that saying anything against Islam is not Human Rights.

      Every child born in this world has certain rights and if their Government cannot or does not do so then the world has an obligation to do so. Because if the world does not then we face a far worse threat in the future.

      How long will this last? To be honest I don’t know. and I disagree with Leon completely when he talks about contracts in Afghanistan.

      Leon, didn’t you suggest that the Indian Government go and speak with LeT after the Mumbai Attacks? I was baffled then and I am baffled now. How do you negotiate with people who has no negotiating positions but will only desist from heinous acts if we succumb to their wishes?

      What are the other options? I would like to know. If I am wrong lets have the real debate — rather than posturing which is exactly what I see here.

      ISI has been a criminal organisation which has no accountability in almost a failed state. The PM of the Country could not bring it under his office because of objections from the Armed Forces which were complicit in the Mumbai attacks.

      How do you deal with that? Yeah have tea with them.

      I am so glad that none of you run national security.
      **************************************************

      Further Brown has always been a disgrace when it comes to the Armed Forces and he still plays the game and that was also what made him very popular with the so called “LEFT” — which lacks pragmatism.

      I am centre left but what I see from so called pacifist left is just utterly idiotic and I stand by that comment.

    35. Jai — on 14th July, 2009 at 10:40 am  

      Afghanistan is 100% Muslim

      The influx of Afghan Sikh refugees who have arrived in the UK in recent years might politely disagree with this statement. The vast majority of Afghans are indeed Muslim, but “100%” ? No, and certainly not for a couple of centuries at the very least.

      ***********************************

      An observation in response to a comment by Soru on the other ‘Afghanistan’ thread:

      Alexander, the British empire and the Russians all failed to conquer Afghanistan,

      With all due respect, this statement isn’t entirely correct: Alexander DID conquer Afghanistan, before moving on to attacking some of the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent.

      Much more recently (relatively-speaking), the Mughals successfully annexed most of what is now modern-day Afghanistan into their empire; to a lesser extent, the Sikhs under General Hari Singh Nalwa also defeated the Afghans in warfare and annexed a couple of chunks of Afghanistan.

      So, if someone is looking for ways to successfully defeat the Taliban militarily, perhaps it would be worthwhile for them to look at the more recent historical precedents in order to gain some pointers for how this might feasibly be achieved, obviously updated with modern weaponry and the associated modification of strategy & tactics. Despite the ‘received wisdom’ out here in the West, in reality Afghans haven’t necessarily been quite as ‘invincible’ as the prevailing European/Western mythology may claim.

    36. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 11:01 am  

      What is happening in the M/E and Afghanistan IS – without an iota of doubt – Imperialist. It is illegal foreign intervention on the very shaky ideological ground of “bringing peace and democracy via shock and awe”.

      Please explain with your infinite wisdom Random Guy.

      Rather than sprouting ideological nonsense I would love to see some reasoned argument.
      *****************************************
      And on second thoughts — if Sunny should be ashamed of himself for writing this post - as claimed by Anon who defends ISI and claims that those idiots who are putting bombs on 10 year olds are independence seeking nationalists — well then Annon is a moron.

      ************************************

    37. Random Guy — on 14th July, 2009 at 11:48 am  

      Shamit, the project for regime change in Afghanistan is already failing. Karzai is out of favour with the U.S. and they are looking for a new face in the upcoming elections.

      Which part of my argument would you like me to reason with you about? I don’t recall making any ideological statements - I was merely pointing out the flawed ideology that led to the current screw-up.

      Mind you, it is amusing to see you trotting out the “we care for the children and women” line, when I am sure you were equally concerned when the U.S. military was bombarding them (and still is in some parts) as part of their campaign. Isn’t it great to be able to support murder based on your own selective concerns?

      Don’t get me wrong, you sound very genuine but its when you make this sort of statement:

      “Every child born in this world has certain rights and if their Government cannot or does not do so then the world has an obligation to do so. Because if the world does not then we face a far worse threat in the future.”

      Then I wonder if you are thinking of the children post or pre-invasion?? Did those children have the right to get killed and have their parents taken from them?

      Also, you may want to read my previous comment where I explicitly stated that I was not supporting the Taliban, merely pointing out my disgust at the concept of supporting military action of the sort that has killed so many innocents.

      You can be as smart as you like, but all I see in your comments is a one-sided look at things with no moral relativity. For example, you say:

      “What happens in your country matters to me — because you can develop ebola viruses, or bombs or plan to destabilise my country and a whole host of other nations. Therefore, it is within our right but more importantly our responsibility to do something about the Taliban.”

      Does this mean that the family members of the innocents who have died directly or indirectly throught western involvement now have the same rights and responsibilities?

    38. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 12:05 pm  

      Random Guy

      Did you see my post @10

      http://unama.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1761&ctl=Details&mid=1892&ItemID=4665

      1. Read this link — where it is clear that most Afghan civilian deaths are due to terrorism rather than miliatry action.

      2. What makes you think I rejoice at innocent deaths? But unfortunately that’s the nature of war and civilian casualties would happen — while regrettable it is almost unavoidable.

      3. You claimed this war in Afghanistan is imperalistic - how? Could you explain that stance when polls after polls suggest that there is overwhelming support from the Afghan people for the Coalition forces? or why the vast majority of the Afghan people hate the ISI and the pakistan government in general.

      4. I do not want the war in Afghanistan and niether did most people who support the war. The war was brought on to us and if we do nothing as Sunny as correctly pointed out — it could lead to nuclear confrontation between a failed state and India. Do you like that option better?

      5. Now rather than splicing my arguments to fit with your infinite wisdom could you please suggest an alternative? Come on enlighten us please? I await your sermon and pontification.

      6. Then I wonder if you are thinking of the children post or pre-invasion?? Did those children have the right to get killed and have their parents taken from them?

      Of course that is the sad thing about war and I not only feel sorry I think we should try to give them a better life. But killing children is the way Taliban (which by the way is a minority in Afghanistan) does things — not the coalition forces. And if you think we the West are deliberately killing children — you should be ashamed.

      One of the reasons I supported the war was that the children have a right to opportunities which you might not see — but they do.

      7. “you may want to read my previous comment where I explicitly stated that I was not supporting the Taliban, merely pointing out my disgust at the concept of supporting military action of the sort that has killed so many innocents.”

      No you claimed this was an imperialistic invasion. And I want you to support your assertion. Could you support that please?

      8. We have a responsibility towards civilian casualties in Afghanistan and especially towards the children. And we are doing our best. Believe it or not coalition forces along with other partners such as UN, World Bank, and even countries that are not militarily involved such as India have been building roads, schools and hospitals and people are getting killed by the Taliban for doing so.

      Once again the self righteousness without pragmatism — something the pseduo left does so well.

      Now you know why I said moronic arguments.

    39. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2009 at 12:27 pm  

      What is happening in the M/E and Afghanistan IS – without an iota of doubt – Imperialist.

      Only when the democratically elected afghan government asks the foreign forces to leave, but they don’t. Until then all the foreign troops - including the arab ones - are there at the behest of the afghan people.

      But then i suppose screeching imperialism and ignoring the fact that the afghans are vitriolically anti-taliban and that the foreign troops are working with the afghan government is something easy to overlook.

    40. Katy Newton — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:00 pm  

      What makes you think I rejoice at innocent deaths?

      You’re probably some sort of bloodthirsty imperialist like me.

      Honestly, I think we could all benefit from trying to discuss foreign policy generally without accusing people of rejoicing or not caring about civilian/innocent lives. There are very few people who don’t care whether people live or die or not. The debate is never, in my opinion, between people who like people dying and people who don’t, it’s between people who think that one course of action will result in fewer lives being lost and people who think another course of action will.

    41. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:03 pm  

      Katy

      I agree with you without any reservations. But I am getting tired of being painted as a blood thirsty war monger.

      Especially when everyone who criticises the Afghan policy do not offer another alternative.

    42. Random Guy — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:29 pm  

      “Rejoice” is a strong word, and I did not use it w.r.t. Shamit. Nor did I call anyone an Imperialist Bloodmonger, or whatever words you want to put in my mouth. I am not obliged to offer an alternative to Afghanistan just because I am stating my contempt for what has happened there. Take it for what it is - a statement of fact regarding the way I see things there. No need to get all bothered and reactionary and offended.

      Also, regarding Imperialism - lets call it neo-imperialism just to be clear - and the burden of proof - what exactly do you want me to prove? What about the fact that plans to create a regime-change in Afghanistan were already in place prior to 9/11? To be honest from your tone it seems like a rhetorical question more than anything else, and more of a time-waster as you are already polarised in your viewpoint.

      Katy, the issue here is moral relativity. This practice of faux concern for innocents when it is deemed suitable, and ignorance of it when not.

      Kulvinder, all well and good saying it, but if Newsweek is running with a cover story headed “Losing Afghanistan”, what does that tell you.

    43. Random Guy — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:33 pm  

      Sorry last comment got submitted before I could complete editing -

      Kulvinder, if Newsweek was already running a cover story for Losing Afghanistan when the government was in favour with them (i.e. the ‘behest’ that you imagine), what does that tell you?

    44. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:49 pm  

      Kulvinder, if Newsweek was already running a cover story for Losing Afghanistan when the government was in favour with them (i.e. the ‘behest’ that you imagine), what does that tell you?

      I have no idea, you tell me.

      I tend however to take more notice of what the afghans do and say rather than what newsweek says.

    45. Random Guy — on 14th July, 2009 at 1:55 pm  

      And how do you do that Kulvinder? Are you out there right now polling them? If not, who is producing the polls, and what method are they using? To me, it looks pretty grim out there if the casualties of UK and US soldiers are still through the roof.

      Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/12/AR2009071200868.html

    46. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2009 at 2:47 pm  

      Yeah blame the polls, go on.

    47. dave bones — on 14th July, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

      I don’t think anyone can claim that they have accurate information from Afghanistan sitting in the UK

    48. Random Guy — on 14th July, 2009 at 3:16 pm  

      Kulvinder @ 50 - Yeah keep being fed propaganda and believing it is your own opinion, go on.

      dave, my point exactly.

    49. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 3:36 pm  

      once again we get the following:

      1)No alternatives

      2)No appreciation of pragmatic realities

      3)No appreciation of the potential impact on the wider world and especially British society especially cohesion (which is not at its best now)

      4)Self-righteous pontification and attempting to monopolise humanitarian concerns for the civilians - as if everyone else does not care

      5)No logical arguments to back up the flawed judgements - such as this war is an imperialistic adventure by the west. And falling back on the civilian casualty everytime - but not noticing the overwhelming support there is for the coalition partners including those who are just there to rebuild infrastructure.

      Now, please someone tell me why is this not a rather stupid position to take?

      May be I am getting really confused somewhere but still don’t get why Sunny should be ashamed of himself? And why is it not stupid and idiotic to claim that the Taliban (who are a minority) are just fighting for independence? That is idiotic and stupid.

      And when is it so wrong to call it exactly what it is?

      I am eagerly awaiting to hear a coherent response.

    50. halima — on 14th July, 2009 at 3:53 pm  

      I don’t want to get into the in/outs of Afghanistan, but i picked this passage up from James Laxer’s (I don’t know his work much) blog. But i think what’s happening in Afghanistan isn’t the first time and the last time we will debate such points. Going back to one of America’s much loved writers, I thought this was interesting and made me ponder on how caught up we are in the present.

      “In 1900, Mark Twain wrote a warning about phony humanitarianism that rings true today. “I said to myself,” wrote Twain about the American intervention in the Philippines a century ago “here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves.”

      “But I have thought some more, since then…and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem”

      “And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”

    51. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 3:59 pm  

      What Dave Bones said.

      No one can ‘stabilise’ any ‘country’ - end of story. this is a myth that international relations departments seem to have perpetuated. People who think in terms of ‘foreign policy’ seem to buy into it.

      Colonialism, in case anyone has forgotten, was all meant to ‘stabilise’ those ‘heathens who couldn’t find stability for themselves’.

      Frankly, if people can’t get along, you can’t force them too. Guns or no guns. Yes they will murder each other because they are a vicious blood-thirsty lot who don’t seem to have a concept of equality as humans, but one of fundamental tribalism. You aren’t going to change that (if you think it ought to be changed) by bombing anyone.

      You can spend your time trying, if you so choose. How long is ‘long-term’ anyway? When one talks about a quick fix well this ‘staying the course’ in afghanistan is about quick fixes: its a military focus.

      What we need are CONSTRUCTIVE efforts: getting the women out of their homes, making it possible for young people in the country to see a NON-MILITARY future for themselves.

      But yeah, those aren’t quick fixes sure..

    52. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:00 pm  

      So yeah, I think “we” (as in the world) need to stay the course in Afghanistan for sure, we need to not forget it, but a military solution is not a solution.

    53. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:05 pm  

      And there is a simple way of working out who is really humanitarian - people who advocate invasions of other places -if they are willing to fight and pledge their own uptil now - safe little skin - and spend their time in the conflict zone - whether by fighting or constructing something, well those i respect. They are actually putting their money where their mouth is.

      In many cases, people do want to fight and have some kind of military stand-off and great, if you believe in something enough to get your own life involved, fine, absolutely go ahead and talk about it then. But when people are sitting around advocating wars here and there as a matter of foreign policy, well really that is quite pathetic, its seen a ‘job’ and a position ‘one must hold’ - such a distanciated way of engaging in so-called humanitarianism.

      Send your mates at the very least, if you can’t go yourself. Send your girlfriends! You can only really and truly claim to take war seriously when you are involved yourself, when you are willing to risk your own life.

      Otherwise, it might not be ‘imperialism’ but it is certainly academic abstraction.

    54. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:18 pm  

      And yes the Taliban are foul.

      But overall Sunny fundamentally the mistake you are making is that any one person or group/country can come ‘in’ to a country and voila redemption! It doesn’t happen internally anyway, governments don’t just ‘charge in’ and see change. No that is a myth.

      Nothing is beyond “redemption” but why does anyone think social change happens a) by military incursion and b) quickly? It doesn’t. Change is systemic and will only happen slowly and across a range of multiple factors. No straight line newtonian formulae can you apply here.

      You cannot “engineer” the kinds of changes that are necessary over such a short time - and especially when it involves each tribe respecting the rights of the other as Equals. Fundamentally speaking, the irony is in Afghanistan, the tribes have been very warlike.

      HOw are you teaching them anything new by doing a bit more fighting? You’re not - you’re simply shoring up the idea that military strength is how you get ahead.

      Both Sunny and Rumbold need to think very clearly about this. I don’t know how either of them ( and I do respect both of you very much) but seriously this is where both of you go seriously WRONG. If you advocate military action, fine, i for one will not say it is automatically illegitimate, but what I will say is, humans being humans, if one lot use military strength, all you find then is a race to become stronger militarily.

      Afghans are very proud alpha-males. You will never be able to change that in a military way because it only makes them more determined to get you back. That was what the Soviet hoo-ha was all about- (and ironic the West who trained the bloody Taliban can’t work this out) and the fact was even after they had WON they were so militarised they carried on fighting.

      And people think there is a military solution to this?

      Unless you are thinking along the lines of traditional invasions- and intend to wipe out every Male Afghan and impregnate the women - which is how invasions happened in the past - all you are doing is perpetuating the case of young Afghan men feeling the need to stand up and protect themselves.

      really some people -and historians - you would think would stop to observe the effect of constant war - but no.

      You guys need to give up the idea that there is a ‘solution’ you can impose. Solutions are never imposed, they are organic and they grow. this might make you impatient but perhaps such impatient people and policies should not be given any credence.

    55. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

      Fundamentally, politicians (and governments) do not understand social systems or social change. Clearly.

      This whole idea that “someone” is in Power, they must know what to do! They only have to go in guns blazing! Is so Patently Ridiculous really I am amazed anyone believes in it anymore. The whole economic system is on the verge of collapse and everyone is looking for ‘someone’ to blame cos we believed ‘they’ knew what they were doing in the first place.

      some radical thinking is needed now.

    56. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

      Anyway this is the same argument all Anti-War people came up with about Iraq.

      The pro-war lot made a fatuous case about how they would ‘fix’ things get rid of Saddam (and his supporters) and that would be that.

      Everybody else said How? {no response ever was given from the pro-war lot about the detail of their Implementation) Everybody said oh no it wouldn’t be easy, how will you tell when you have got rid of the ‘supporters’ without turning the whole country into an enemy, how will you know when you have been ‘successful’?

      its one things when military commanders have an idea (that they don’t want to share with us) But Iraq really proved that so -called West’s military strategy didn’t really exist. It was like Bremner Bird and Fortune predicted.

      And we hear the same thing about Afghanistan: we want ‘stability’ - through some kind of military force. Still today no ONE has ever drawn even a simple flowchart to show how they imagine they will proceed from military action —> stable society. How? Sunny seeing as you are taking up their position perhaps you can give us some idea. We’re not asking for much, are we?

      I mean if this wasn’t a war, but some kind of discussion on how a project was going to be managed, if the proponents of action couldn’t even come up with a SIMPLE explanation on how their intended action was going to be implemented, and then come up with the intended results..well we wouldn’t think them a) very smart or b) wouldn’t let them commence activity.

      So I suggest you war supporters - if you want to be taken at all seriously - come up with a simple schema on how you ACTUALLY see military action —-> stable society.

      I know the media has dumbed everything down and journalists pay no heed to anyone asking them to write something of substance, but really, not all of us in society are stupid and will fall for glib statements and rhetoric like ‘we will stay the course’. that is the stuff Politicians say.

      We do not trust politicians because they can rarely produce anything of substance.

      If so much political communication in this country were not left in the hands of the brainless media and fatuous glib shallow nonsense journalists come up with, society could perhaps hold politicians to account on this very important point.

    57. sonia — on 14th July, 2009 at 4:42 pm  

      And of course if one supports war on a general principle without feeling one has no need to show its efficacy -that is of course fine. But would put one in the camp of unfeeling warmongers.

    58. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 5:14 pm  

      Halima

      Great quote and interesting perspective. But with all due respect (and I have a lot of time and respect fot your views) the situation and the context are different.

      I don’t think much differently than what you present.

      And dare I say, the world is a much smaller place now.

      **************************************

      Sonia - I disagree

      But the points you raise they deserve well thought out responses. I have a lot of respect for your views — although I often do not agree.

      Unfortunately, I have to run now but I would at least try to establish my case later on.

      But before I go, if you were an adult when the Bangladesh liberation war was going on and you were an Indian citizen - would you have supported the intervention by India?

      If so, why so? If not, why not?

      Have to run now but I will respond.
      *************************************

      But thank you both for enriching this debate.

    59. damon — on 14th July, 2009 at 5:54 pm  

      I’ve mentioned this before. On the friday after the NATO bombardment against the Taleban first started (after 9/11) I went up to Regent’s Park mosque for friday prayers (I’m not a muslim but thought I’d go along to see how it was).
      As people came out at the end, a small group of hotheads were trying to hold an after prayers anti NATO rally. Megaphones and impassioned speeches.
      In my opinion, at least half of the people in this central London mosque stopped outside and listened to the guys from some Hizb ut-Tahrir type group.
      There was nodding and agreement with much that they said (particularly from excited looking school aged boys who were there).
      I don’t know how representative that mood might be in the muslim community in Britain today. Maybe it was just a spur of the moment thing, with emotions understandably running high at such a time like that.
      I too, from watching and reading the media felt effected by what was unfolding in Afghanistan.
      The savagery of modern bombs and weapons systems being deployed from the air against these black turbaned crazy idealists who were out in the open dug into useless trenches.
      I didn’t feel that I supported NATO in those days.

      I wrote that above because of what Munir said @ 7
      ”The hatred towards Islam of many American (and some British ) soldiers is the Talibans greatest recruiting sergeant”.

      Hatered towards Islam in the ranks? Really?
      I’m sure there’s some ignorance and prejudice (from these young men/boys). I was just wondering if people who are supporting the aims of this war had any feelings for the men who are fighting it, (on the NATO side). How do you feel (if you are supporting the war against the Taleban) about images on the news tonight of eight dead British troops being paraded through some small Wiltshire town.

      I have to admit to feeling manipulated by the media when I passively watch things like that on the news (which I’m about to do in half an hour at 7 O clock).

      It’s said we have to fight the Taleban. but how has the rest of Afghanistan been fairing? The other half of the country rulled by Northen Allience warlords?
      I haven’t heard much out of Mazar-e-sharif for a while.
      Is General Dostum still in charge?

      If you support the NATO troops, should you watch ”Ross Kemp in Afghanistan?”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbl_bx8lTzk&feature=related
      Does anybody think that these British squaddies are muppets and mugs?
      I myself have mixed feelings about them.

    60. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:24 pm  

      Yeah keep being fed propaganda and believing it is your own opinion, go on.

      Oh id much rather believe in the ‘propoganda’ of rigorous polls than opinion pieces in magazines.

      Still ill keep what you said in mind when newsweek disagrees with something you say.

      I don’t think anyone can claim that they have accurate information from Afghanistan sitting in the UK

      Given the context of the discussion i assume this relates to the opinions (political or otherwise) of the afghan people.

      Noone sitting in westminster can claim they have accurate information about what anyone in britain is truly thinking, the entire reason for the existence of political advisors/focus groups and, yes, polls are to shed light on that lack of information.

      Now i wouldn’t presume to suggest i know what every afghan is thinking rather the same methodology that is used everywhere else in the world to sample public opinion was used in afghanistan and there has never been any emprical evidence whatsoever that the afghans are viewing the taliban in a more favorable light.

    61. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:34 pm  

      No one can ’stabilise’ any ‘country’ – end of story. this is a myth that international relations departments seem to have perpetuated. People who think in terms of ‘foreign policy’ seem to buy into it.

      Off the top of my head, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and of late Haiti. In each of those cases you can find instances of ‘failure’ in the sense of the institutions failing to consider a particular situation, but on the whole those areas have a greater ‘stability’ after the intervention than before.

    62. Kulvinder — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:49 pm  

      You can only really and truly claim to take war seriously when you are involved yourself, when you are willing to risk your own life.

      Presumably you can only advocate an alternative approach - whatever it is you think the afghans want - if you go there and actually do it yourself. Putting your own life at risk.

      Because quite clearly it would be hypocrisy otherwise.

      Personally i understand and don’t have any problem with the fact that in most democratic and free societies (and certainly in the case of the UK and US) you choose your function and type of input to a situation or problem. A soldier may volunteer to fight, a politican may choose to stand for office and direct strategy; someone working for an ngo may simply work to collect money whilst their colleague goes into the field.

      I don’t think the passion or commitment of one individual in that instance could be said to be greator than another.

      Besides if you’re disabled and advocate interventionism you’re truly buggered, eh?

      So I suggest you war supporters – if you want to be taken at all seriously – come up with a simple schema on how you ACTUALLY see military action —-> stable society.

      The military action results in the despotic taliban being kept from taking control of afghanistan whilst the afghan government and security forces develop to a point when we’re not needed.

    63. soru — on 14th July, 2009 at 7:52 pm  

      ‘. Still today no ONE has ever drawn even a simple flowchart to show how they imagine they will proceed from military action —> stable society. How?’

      Wars stop when one side wins. The shortest route to the end of a war is to speed up that process.

      Now, NATO have enough firepower they could probbaly pick either side and have them win. But (going back to) supporting the Taliban would be a pretty hard sell, and in any case the Afghan governbment is not only stronger but somewhat less evil. And most importantly, unlike the Taliban, it has no ambitions to go off conquering parts of other countries, or even attempt to start up some new Islamic pseudo-empire.

      The longest wars are between equally matched sides, with fluctuating external support.

      Wars don’t stop when western cameras aren’t present. Ross Kemp never visited the front-line of the Iran-Iraq war, but that didn’t stop that being one of the longest and nestiests conflict of recent times…

    64. Shamit — on 14th July, 2009 at 10:19 pm  

      First@57

      I don’t think it is appropriate to make those comments without knowing personal situations or family situations.

      Like someone asked in another thread - “I wonder where is all this moral outrage(superiority) coming from?”

      I reiterate the simple question again — Would you have supported the Indian intervention in Bangladesh liberation war or not? And if we could have your reasons please?

      ********************************

      On another note - no one advocated just the war here. Everyone here believes that we must invest in reconstruction and development. And that assumption was way OTT as they say. And we all know that “Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups”

      Over the past few years, over 4000 miles of new roads have been built in Afghanistan -

      Over 2000 schools have been built — which cater to over 6 million children of whom 1.5 million are girls.

      Infant mortality (thanks to new hospitals and medical aid) have fallen drastically and almost 80% of the Afghan population now at least have access to healthcare - compared to 8% during the Taliban rule.

      The trade just between Afghanistan and India is rising to almost 700 million dollars with India itself not the richest putting in almost over 500 million dollars in the past few years.

      UK just committed to over 500 million to Afghanistan over next 4 years and another 600 odd to Pakistan for purely reconstruction and creating opportunities and delivering public services. I could highlight more statistics from different countries and projects undertaken.

      These reconstruction efforts would become futile unless there is security in Afghanistan. The only way we can help them develop and sustain a better quality of life as well as opportunities is through a relatively secure and safe Afghanistan.

      That is why our troops need to be there — so that what you pontificate earlier:

      “What we need are CONSTRUCTIVE efforts: getting the women out of their homes, making it possible for young people in the country to see a NON-MILITARY future for themselves.”…..

      can be achieved and sustained. It could only happen if we can make Afghanistan relatively stable and secure. We cannot eradicate terrorism but we can minimise its impact. And military power is needed to support the other activities.

      And it is already happening — yes it needs to go a long way but it is taking place. And Afghanistan is a far better place and is far better equipped to participate in today’s world than what it was 7 years ago.

      How do you get the women out if Taliban go on burning young girls with acid bulbs?

      Retrospectively, maybe Nato especially UK should have sat on its behind while genocide was going on in former Yugoslavia. I do not think that would have been the better option. I think the Kosovars would have appreciated that right? NOT.

      Or against the entire world’s opinion India supporting the liberation war in Bangladesh p- no India should have just blocked the borders and looked the other way? Would that have been a better option?

      Or in Sierra Leone -

      *************************************

    65. davebones — on 14th July, 2009 at 11:03 pm  

      Yeah you’ve got a point with all of that Shamit. There are NGOs and groups who are doing good things for good reasons. There are also interest groups doing things for reasons of their own interest. We all know one of the main reasons the Pakistan government wanted the Taliban to be strong was to hold back the influence of its enemy India in Afghanistan. I don’t know what an expansion of Indian interest in Afghanistan will do.

      But you are right in a lot of this. I am never usually keen to say I am totally for or against any of this as my opinion doesn’t really count for much in the decision making. Maybe events in Mumbai will unite the more sensible elements of India and Pakistan. A friend of mine was suggesting the excellent doco about Mumbai be shown in both countries for such reasons. Ideals are so often sabotaged by politics that it is very difficult to talk about good options but I accept a lot of what you say here. It is a problem which isn’t easy to solve.

    66. Vikrant — on 14th July, 2009 at 11:15 pm  

      We all know one of the main reasons the Pakistan government wanted the Taliban to be strong was to hold back the influence of its enemy India in Afghanistan

      Bullshit… India never had any significant dealings with Afghanistan before Taliban. ISI propped up the Talibs to keep a lid on their own bloody troubles in NWFP and to have ‘strategic depth’ against India. (read: Operate training camps in Afghanistan to train cannon fodder to bleed India with a thousand cuts.)…

      I don’t know what an expansion of Indian interest in Afghanistan will do.

      Pakistan’s propped up Taliban, Indians are building the infrastructure.. I don’t know which one is constructive!

    67. Halima — on 15th July, 2009 at 4:54 am  

      Shamit

      “Great quote and interesting perspective. But with all due respect (and I have a lot of time and respect fot your views) the situation and the context are different.”

      Thanks , Twain did have a way with words, but i think the best writers are best because sometimes they work in an out-of-world context and aren’t swayed by the pressures that trouble us in our ordinary life. There’s something about why novels and fiction carry universal lessons about the human condition - they survive and live beyond us. I am not saying all writers have right on their side - as some promote pretty dodgy politics and should just do their art.

      i agree with you, time and context is different.

      But i really do think that struggles for influence, everywhere in the world’s strategic regions, will stay the same over time. We might find that political parties come and go, and domestic policies change with new governments. But changes to foreign policy and what’s deemed relevant to national interest in foreign affairs more or less stays the same. On average a country’s foreign interests change every 100 years - at a guess. Motives for influence and explanations might differ every 50 years to reflect changed times, but the significance of these regions do not change. Which might explain continued interest in that region for much of the 20th century and now 21st.

    68. sonia — on 15th July, 2009 at 12:05 pm  

      what jim said in 23

    69. sonia — on 15th July, 2009 at 12:18 pm  

      fundamentally i feel It’s not for me/anyone to either “support” or “not support” other people’s “interventions” or not willy nilly in any war-time context, it’s silly to be so academically abstract about it. it will depend on one own’s involvement - that was my point - that if people want to call for military intervention the rest of us would be less suspicious if they were willing to go fight themselves in the resulting war. i have been involved in an invasion where if i had to i would have engaged in violence to save my life, and taken up arms if i could. it was my life on the line and i feel i could call for x or y then based on my own life’s involvement.

      And I did point out that I do not claim to have a quick solution to Afghanistan’s problems. I certainly empathise with what people are trying to do with their ‘interventions’ i don’t think i have to point that out. There’s no need to get all high and mighty -for us it is an academic discussion, of course it is, all of us are ‘pontificating’ - we have the luxury to.

      Perhaps my point of view is cynical to those who think interventions have the effect they set out to, i’m just a cynical realist in many ways, particularly when it comes to war which i have experienced. I know full well saying what’s ‘right and what’s wrong’ in war is very difficult and this is particularly well-observed in the heat of battle.

      Therefore the point is always, battle should be the last resort. And when battle seems endless, and with no clear defined enemy or theatre, it seems pretty futile to me.

      But by all means, let’s carry on.

    70. Cool — on 15th July, 2009 at 1:42 pm  

      The War in Afghanistan is creating the trouble in Pakistan. No one seems to want to admit that. Until the US invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan was a stable, albeit corrupt country. But the NATO invasion has only radicalised the populations of both countries.

      Obama increased involvement in Aghanistan is only going to lead to a vastly bigger war in Pakistan - which has already begun. Obama will have turned Bush’s 2 wars into 3. And all of them have no end in sight.

      So much for all you dummies who thought he was going to bring peace on earth.

    71. Arif — on 16th July, 2009 at 10:53 am  

      This discussion is confusing for me because it is hard to keep the focus on the humanitarian principles behind the reasons people give for and against intervention.

      (Example) reasons for:
      - Stability (needs to be defined much more clearly - you can create a graveyard and call it peace)
      - To help the oppressed (needs also to be defined clearly especially so the implications can be drawn about where else we should intervene militarily - eg if the formulation can be applied to invading China or 50 other countries, say, then is this the logic of your position)
      - To stop terrorism (is this a general principle, or a selective one - particular terrorism by and against particular groups only, because of who you feel threatened by - and if general, does this mean that anyone interpreting western actions as terrorist at any time is also justified in using political violence?)

      Against:
      - It is imperialist (imperialism both needs to be defined and then explained why it is more important to oppose imperialism than to pursue the pro-war principles)
      - It is ineffective (this is similar to an argument that it is wasteful, but not clearly a powerful moral principle)
      - It is counterproductive (another pragmatic rather than purely principled argument, and it has to be clarified in what sense it is the manner or the fact of intervention that is counterproductive, and what the preferred reasons and methods would be and why).

      In my view some selective interventions have positive humanitarian outcomes, and can be followed by relatively genuine self-determination. But this should not blind us to the geopolitical interests they also serve and the longer term consequences of legitimising selective interventions by the powerful.

      As there are competing principles, surely politicians should be eager for a way to sort out what makes a conflict just, to avoid allowing any intervention to claim legitimacy according to whatever principle can be made to fit the interests of the intervenor. But there is little discussion on this issue and little political interest in strengthening the UN or a similar institution less beholden to big powers, to take humanitarian interventions out of the hands of self-interested States.

      I guess my conclusion is that the humanitarian principles behind intervention (while interesting for academics) are not politically important. They are selectively used by people who believe in military solutions to their problems and want to legitimise their fighting for power over territory.

      Supposed humanitarian principles won’t help me understand the ethics of the invasion of Afghanistan (or resistance to it) until the advocates think through what the consequences would be if they applied the principles they are claiming in a consistent way, then also act accordingly.

    72. Chris Baldwin — on 16th July, 2009 at 3:49 pm  

      I support the war in Afghanistan, but for one reason only: with the Taliban sheltering Al-Qaeda, America had to respond after the September 11th attacks (did Britain? Maybe). It’s not about freedom, democracy or the Taliban as such - if they hadn’t sheltered Al-Qaeda it would have been a crime to attack them. Obviously, the war in Afghanistan has been a disaster. I’m sure if any of us had been told in 2001 that it would still be going on in 2009 we wouldn’t have believed it. Part of this may be down to the idiots in Washington and London launching their imperialist mission to Iraq. As we are unfortunately still in Afghanistan, we need to aim to pacify the country as much as possible and then get out.

    73. Jamie — on 18th August, 2009 at 8:30 am  

      You fail to mention Saudi, the CIA, or Al Qaeda. Which therefore allows you to rationalise your explanation and solution of the problem. A question, how many of the Taliban do you believe/estimate are Afghan born / Pakistani born / outsiders?

    74. britologywatch — on 18th August, 2009 at 9:31 am  

      To qualify as a just war, the evil to be prevented by the war has to considerably outweigh the evil of the war itself; and there has to be a strong prospect of concluding the war successfully. I don’t think either of those conditions prevail in Afghanistan.

      Sunny Hundal weighs up the pros and cons in a calculated manner worthy of the best US strategist or British imperialist: ‘it’s better for us to try to eliminate the Taliban militarily, as the civil war that would ensue if we withdrew would entail far greater loss of civilian life’. Well, that’s a) a judgement call that is extremely hard to make, in both practical and ethical terms (can we really say that the loss of, say, 20,000 lives through our actions makes the loss of 40,000 lives in a civil war we thereby prevent justifiable? Ask the relatives of the 20,000, I’d say); and b) the very fact of our being there militarily has created and escalated the conflict to the extent that we have put ourselves in the position to destroy those putative 20,000 civilian lives and still end up with a civil war if our endeavours there prove unsuccessful, as is likely.

      That’s the other side of the equation: very low likelihood of success, i.e. that the Taliban will ever give up fighting in Afghanistan. Time for a change of tack, I’d say; especially if we should be concentrating on Pakistan, as SH says.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.