Monday, April 07, 2008

So Much to Do, So Little Time, Our Lease on Afghanistan's Civil War is Running Out.

Going to war in places like Afghanistan is like stepping into deep, thick mud. They're easy to get into, you slide right up to your hips before you even know it, and they're a total bitch to then get out of.

So, we've got three years to tidy up before we bail out on the impoverished, downtrodden Afghani people. Yes, we are going to bail out on them. All that hope and inspiration we gave them, all those promises we made? Best just to forget about that nonsense. We can't afford those naive and futile distractions when we need to focus on getting out.

We need a "to do" list honed down to the bare essentials. Number One on the list is to train an Afghan Army that can at least hold its own against the Taliban. We used to have a name for that. Oh yeah, we called it the "Northern Alliance." Number Two is to ensure that Afghanistan has a somewhat functioning government, emphasis on "somewhat". Number Three is to see to it that the country has a marginally less than totally corrupt security service although the "less than totally" part is going to be a tough one.

Now what do Numbers One, Two and Three have in common? They're all beset by the same crippling corruption known as "warlordism." We should have dumped those guys right from the outset but we went in with far too few troops to pull that off. That let them insinuate themselves into the government of our guy Karzai and get their nasty little claws on the reins of power.

So, if we can only knock out the warlords, we might have at least a slim chance of making some progress on Numbers One, Two and Three. But we can't take them out, they're on our side! Oh dear. And besides, we don't have enough troops there to stop the Taliban much less taking on what would amount to the rest of the country.

The NATO leaders ("surrender monkeys" to be sure) decided in Bucharest that we're not renewing our lease on Afghanistan's civil war after 2011. It was the the Afghan's civil war before 2001 and it'll be their civil war again in 2011. Good luck with that fellas.

Now, nobody's talking much about it right now but Karzai and his warlords and the Taliban were watching everything that happened at the Bucharest summit. They realize that their sabbatical ends in just three short years which, for an Afghani, is little more than an insurrectional heartbeat.

Kabul is going to become a hotbed of intrigue with all the players; Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara, Baloch and Turkmen figuring out how best to position themselves for the "After-Nato" Afghanistan. Lies will be told, alliances will be made and betrayed, strengths and weaknesses weighed and plots laid. Just like the old days. As for the Afghan Army, the top warlords are ready to take it apart in order to reclaim what they've always seen as justifiably theirs. They'll need to have their militias reconstituted and rearmed for the season opener. Fortunately there's plenty of drug money around to buy new weapons and toys.

Funny, isn't it, that the only people who foresaw this ending were the Afghanis themselves? We went in there figuring we were invincible, our power and wealth irresistable. They've faced that attitude from foreigners for centuries and always with the same outcome. Somewhere on some cliff face in Afghanistan someone must have carved the words: "Welcome Foreigners. You come here, you die, and you leave."
*Update* - The National Spot has a story today speculating that Generalissimo Rick Hillier may retire by mid-summer. Given the mess he's made I wouldn't be surprised if he chose to duck out to leave the ignominy of retreat to some other poor sap. I think we ought to tell Hillier that he's damned well staying put until the last Canadian soldier is safely out of Afghanistan.

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