Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Will Afghanistan Become a Somalia on Steroids?


One of the most knowledgeable journalists on all things Afghani is McClatchey Newspaper's Jonathan Landay.  He's been running the hills with the Mujaheddin since the Soviet days.

Recently, Landay appeared on the Diane Rehm show on WAMU radio.  The question was whether, in the post-bin Laden era, the United States should pull its forces out of Afghanistan.

Landay made the case that the United States is obliged to stay.  He contends the U.S. has created a volatile situation in which a precipitous American withdrawal could turn Afghanistan into a "Somalia on steroids."

According to Landay, tribal leaders are already reconstituting their forces in anticipation of a resumption of the civil war that was interrupted by the American invasion in 2001.   He says it will be a repeat of the Northern Alliance forces versus the Pashtun, presumably again under Taliban leadership.   This time, however, it will be infinitely worse than it was when American forces showed up a decade ago.

Landay foresees the next Afghan civil war as a proxy war between India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed India backing the Northern Alliance while nuclear-armed Pakistan supports the Pashtun forces.   With a fierce proxy war on Pakistan's doorstep the prospect of a direct conflict between Pakistan and India is dangerously enhanced.

Unfortunately, Landay doesn't have a clear vision for how or when America can safely leave Afghanistan.   He seems to believe, or hope, that the solution, the right moment, will become apparent eventually.  Worse yet, he offered no suggestion as to how Obama can restore American public support for continuing the conflict.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

We can win the battles, but, we can't win the war.

The minute the armies leave Afghanistan. Murdering women, corruption, girls allowed no education, the Burka's will be back, ethnic cleansing will resume. Muslims will kill Muslims in Tribal wars. The Arab country's have always been at war, as long as I can remember.

Harper says he insists, they have a democratic government in Afghanistan. Canada is no longer a democratic country. Our Constitution is ignored. Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken away from us. Democracy and Freedom, are you kidding? Harper is a fascist and a dictator. Harper has destroyed the good name of our country, to the entire world.

The civilian Afghan people, have been killed for ten years now. You can be sure, all the Afghan people, who sided with the U.S. will all be killed, when their troops are withdrawn. Killing Osama Bin Laden, will be avenged for years to come.

Hollie said...

I can understand the differences between the situation in Afghanistan now, vis-a-vis the border countries, and the situation when the American occupation began. I can certainly understand the differences between the American occupation and the Soviet adventure from 1979 - 1989, when the Islamic revolution per se didn't really extend beyond Iran. But what I cannot understand is why it's any of America's business, much less Canada's. I am coming to appreciate, more and more, the difference between isolationism and non-interventionism. Isolationism is historically unrealistic. But is it really so unreasonable to suggest that the parties concerned, whether in the far east, the Middle East, or Central and Latin America, thrash things out among themselves?

The Mound of Sound said...

So many of the major players have a stake in this region - the US, China, Russia, India - that leaving the Afghans and their neighbours to sort this out among themselves is probably unrealistic. Gaining access or control of the region's considerable assets is, in significance, outweighed only by preventing any rivals gaining access or control. For example, Washington wants control over the Caspian Basin oil and gas fields but what's really important is keeping them out of Russian control. Screwed up To quote Sarah Palin, "you betcha."