Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Afghan Awakening
A few weeks ago I flagged a report in the English press about Gordon Brown being ready to announce a new Afghanistan strategy, calling for among, other things,
using large sums of money to buy the allegiance of negotiating with Taliban leaders. Brown subsequently chickened out about the announcement, but as the Telegraph reported a few days ago, not before giving the new strategy a try. As a result, a British diplomat working for the UN and an Irish diplomat working for the EU were politely tossed out of the country earlier this week.
At the time, I made two observations about Brown's proposal: 1) it was sure to put him pretty high up on the Bush administration's shit list; and 2) it's time to re-examine the logic of the War in Afghanistan. As for the first, the Telegraph further reports that the two diplomats were expelled at the request of the US and thanks to intelligence provided by the CIA.
As for the second, there seems to be a logical inconsistency in the US position of promoting an Anbar Awakening in Iraq while at the same time opposing a Helmand Awakening in Afghanistan. The Taliban only posed a threat to America in so much as they harbored Al Qaeda training camps. Now that Pakistan has taken over that function, the Taliban amount to a bunch of tribal warlords resisting a foreign occupation of their country, much like the Sunni tribes in Iraq. Either we take the job of re-constructing the country and the authority of the Afghan central government seriously, or else we sub-contract the security function to local players. But to do neither seems like the worst possible option.