Friday, January 11, 2013
Remember when presidential candidate Barack Obama called Afghanistan the Good War, the one we had to win? Remember when he accused then President Bush of 'dropping the ball' in AfPak in order to concentrate on Iraq?
Some interesting events just collided.
First, President Obama met with Afghan leader Hamid Kharzai at the White House this afternoon, agreed to speed up our withdrawal and all but declared the war a lost cause.
"So, you know, I think that, have we achieved everything that some might have imagined us achieving in the best of scenarios? Probably not. You know, there's a human enterprise, and you know, you fall short of the ideal," said Obama.
The president went on to say that America has achieved some measure of success in Afghanistan, however. "Did we achieve our central goal? And have we been able, I think, to shape a strong relationship with a responsible Afghan government that is willing to cooperate with us to make sure that it is not a launching pad for future attacks against the United States? We have achieved that goal. We are in the process of achieving that goal."
Here's what President Obama is talking about when he speaks about us negotiating:
Today, the Taliban announced that they had finally agreed to open up what they're calling 'a political office' in Doha, Qatar with the Obama Administration's enthusiastic support.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the new liaison office will conduct negotiations and foreign relations between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan ( the Taliban name of the country) and the international community.
"Right now, having a strong presence in Afghanistan, we still want to have a political office for negotiations," said Mujahid. "In this regard, we have started preliminary talks and we have reached a preliminary understanding with relevant sides, including the government of Qatar, to have a political office for negotiations with the international community."
The choice of Qatar is significant.
Qatar is an oil emirate in the Persian Gulf that spends a great deal of money financing Islamism in the world. It has always been a major source of funding for the Muslim Brotherhood and its subsidiary organizations like CAIR, MPAC and ISNA.
It also finances and owns al-Jazeera ( AKA Jihad TV) which features as one of its most popular programs the anti-Semitic and anti-western sermons of Sheik Youseff Qaradawi. As you know, al-Jazeera (or rather, Emir Al-Thani) just purchased Al Gore's Current TV for a cool $500 million, giving it an enhanced western platform and a potential lobbyist in Al Gore, who will stay on for a fat paycheck as a 'consultant'.
The Taliban will thus have an important diplomatic presence in the Persian Gulf ( and remember that Saudi Arabia and the UAE recognized the Taliban government when it first took over), a built in conduit for financing, a friendly media outlet close by with a reach that extends to the United States and quite possibly, a built in, well connected lobbyist with strong ties to the Democratic Party.
And they will now have official recognition of their status as legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.
Essentially, the scenario will likely go something like this. In exchange for releasing captured terrorists from Gitmo into Taliban custody, recognizing the Taliban as legitimate political rulers in Afghanistan plus a suitable baksheesh in the form of some more aid money, we will be allowed to retreat more or less gracefully and Mullah Omar and the Taliban will mouth some platitudes about disengaging from al-Qaeda. The reality, of course is that thanks to our assassination of Osama bin-Laden, al-Qaeda under its Egyptian born, ex-Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheik Ayman Zawahiri has now largely relocated again to the Middle East to take advantage of the Arab Spring. In any event, once the Taliban takes over again, al-Qaeda will be there as well.
Kharzai and other members of the Afghan elite who've grown wealthy during our occupation will duck out,while the rest of the Afghan people will return to the 7th century Sharia Disneyland they had before we came.
Those Afghan security forces we spent billions to equip and train? I think the answer to that is pretty obvious by now. Just like the other Muslim armies we built in Iraq and 'Palestine', the Afghan forces will be in service to the new regime and will just as soon turn those shiny new M-16s on us or our allies given the chance.
Don't get me wrong. With all respect to our heroic warriors (and I was writing about them when hardly anyone else was) the whole decision to go into Afghanistan in the first place was ridiculous, especially since we did nothing about Pakistan, a country that has fomented far more terrorism than ever emanated out of Afghanistan.
I've characterized it before as one genius of a president making a decision to put an army and billions of dollars in equipment into a land locked country surrounded by more or less hostile territory without any real strategic goals in mind, and a second genius of a president deciding to double down to avoid looking ridiculous after his overblown campaign rhetoric.
In an odd way, our wars in Iraq and AfPak operated at cross purposes to each other.
In Iraq, we took out the Sunni counter weight to Shi'ite Iran and left a Shi'ite dictatorship in its place where the political power is concentrated in Iran proxy Moqtada al-Sadr, the power behind President Maliki. The one positive was our destroying of al-Qaeda in Iraq and driving the remnants out of the Middle East.
In Afghanistan, we failed to defeat the Taliban, and are now reduced haggling with them over a ceasefire we need much more than they do. And with the assassination of Osama bin-Laden, the Obama Administration's empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood and Maliki's oppression of Iraq's Sunnis, al-Qaeda is back in its natural home in the Arab world again.
In Afghanistan, as in Iraq, we have emboldened our enemies, spent blood and treasure and accomplished nothing of real permanence, although it pains me to say it because I have a very real knowledge of the sacrifices involved.
Instead of handling AfPak the way it should have been handled from the very beginning, we blundered in without any clear strategic goals or direction. Once our enemies and for that matter, those whom were willing to be our friends realized our leaders had no idea what they were doing and weren't serious about real victory, the rest was merely a matter of time.