Afghanistan: Of Fatigue & Fresh Insights
It is a commentary on our times that any report from Afghanistan and Iraq in the news blogs/media now provokes at best a cynical remark, or worst a yawn. But there are a few indefatigable columnists/journalists whose assessments of the ongoing tragic drama continues to provide fresh insights. Simon Jenkins, a distinguished journalist, is one of them.
In a recent column in The Sunday Times, Jenkins makes interesting observations about Taliban and Al-Qaeda. “In seven years in Afghanistan, America, Britain and their Nato allies have made every mistake in the intervention book…They disobeyed the iron law of postimperial intervention: don’t stay too long. The British ambassador threatens ‘to stay for 30 years’, rallying every nationalist to the insurgents’ cause. The catalogue of western folly in Afghanistan is breathtaking.
“…All hope was buried in a cascade of hypotheticals. Victory would be at hand ‘if only’ the Afghan army were better, if the poppy crop were suppressed, the Pakistan border sealed, the Taliban leadership assassinated, corruption eradicated, hearts and minds won over. None of this is going to happen. The generals know it but the politicians dare not admit it.
“The Taliban’s chief objective is not world domination but a share of power in Afghanistan. While they cannot defeat western troops, they can defeat Nato’s war aim by continuing to build on their marriage of convenience with Al-Qaeda, which supplies them with a devastating arsenal of suicide bombers.
“What is sure is that Al-Qaeda, as a (grossly overrated) ‘threat to the West’, will not be suppressed without Taliban cooperation. This means reversing a policy that naively equates ‘defeating’ the Taliban with ‘winning’ the war on terror. Fighting in Afghanistan is as senseless as trying to suppress the poppy crop. It just costs lives and money.”