Friday, April 16, 2010

US Peace Activists Ignore Real Afghan Peace Efforts

Afghan President Karzai is organizing a large peace Jamboree, conference and jirga starting May 2. He has rejected an assult on Kandahar first like the US wanted after he met with elders there. However, US officials are hinting of a slow buildup instead. Karzai has made some peace breakthroughs especially with former top Taliban supporting warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In several ways the attack on Kandahar would be a major escalation of the war. Alert peace activist reporting could slow this until after Karzai tries to obtain peace

Rep. Kucinich's peace lobby is totally ignoring anything that might distract from setting a firm future end date for war funding seemingly oblivious to the fact that a negotiated settlement may be in the wind, especially if the US peace movement got on board. Congress won't end war funding any time soon unless there is an unrelated crisis during the vote such as an economic collapse in Greece, economic brinkmanship by China or unexpected bad domestic news at the same time as the vote. If Kucinich started demanding that the invasion of Kandahar be postponed or stopped until after the peace conference, real peace might be at hand. Of course Obama is already accused of being a softy by the Vice President Cheney crowd so if the US Peace Movement lobbied the European Peace Movement especially in Germany and England to lobby their countries to leave Afghanistan unless the assault on Kandahar is delayed or stopped, peace may be even more likely. At the moment the European peace movement is lobbying their countries to just leave. But if they got involved in the politics real peace could be more successfully be achieved. Anyway, people in Kandahar would really appreciate this. For comprehensive details google, "Peace Activists Betray Afghan President Karzai"

We in the West think non-Westerners can't be peace activists since we seem to have begun to forget about Gandhi's nonviolent revolution in India.

However, there have been circumstantial reasons why Hamid Karzai's many peace efforts have not been acknowledged. In 1994 he was arrested by Afghan police as he tried to negotiate an end to the bloodbath from rebel infighting. The rest of the world refused to look at this bloodbath because acknowledging a bloodbath occurred after the Russians left might make the Russians look good,

Karzai became head of Afghanistan at the international conference on Afghanistan in Germany in 2001. He was the leader of the faction that wanted the king to return. He made numerous attempts to negotiate peace with the Taliban whose usual answer was that he was a traitor not worth negotiating with. Again the western peace movement didn't note Karzai's peace efforts since they didn't want to spread the idea that the Taliban doesn't want peace.

Hamid Karzai asked Saudi Arabia to be the mediator, but they answered not until Mullah Omar first renounces bin Laden and promises never to harbor al Qaeda. Omar renounces al Qaeda's brutal tactics but won't renounce al Qaeda because he doesn't want al Qaeda to attack him like they did the Sunnis in Iraq who quit fighting the Americans. After al Qaeda attacked them those Sunnis ended up fighting along side the Americans. To this day, al Qaeda in Iraq is scheduling brutal revenge attacks against those Sunnis who sided with the Americans.

In January the UN asked that the Taliban be taken off the terrorist list to facilitate the backdoor meetings they were having with the Taliban,
The US complied partly by taking four retired Taliban officials off the list, who made benchmark negotiations or comments depending on whose interpretation, such as no night raids in return for no road bombs. This stopped when Pakistan arrested a top Mullah Omar aid Mullah Baradar. Afghan President Karzai complained bitterly that arresting Baradar got in the way of the back door peace feelers Baradar was making to Saudi Arabia. Pakistan refused to return Mullah Baradar to Afghanistan like President Karzai demanded.

Finally top Taliban siding warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar entered into comprehensive peace negations with Karzai and Karzai thought the war might soon be over. Hekmatyar controlled territory in northern Afghanistan is far from any al Qaeda members so his vow to arrest any al Qaeda members who came there doesn't mean much. Al Qaeda bloggers instead of calling Hekmatyar a despicable traitor mentioned that he changed sides frequently and mused that he will probably be on al Qaeda's side again as circumstances change. Unfortunately this doesn't mean that Omar who has philosophical differences with al Qaeda disagreeing with bin Laden's brutal tactics can go on to totally denounce al Qaeda without being attacked by them. If he repeated Hekmatyar's anti al Qaeda comments, if al Qaeda couldn't reach him they might attack mosques, bazaars and funerals like al Qaeda liked to do in Iraq.

Peace organizations seem to have two jobs, one is raising money, and one is promoting peace. Dealing with convoluted intertwined Afghan peace efforts won't bring in funds the way trying to set a firm Afghan war funding cut off date will.

There is some good news that may end up bad news in the end. The US really is killing far less civilians than it did in Iraq, and as I noted above there are no tit-for-tat ethnic reprisals between Sunnis and Shiites today in Afghanistan that used to happen in Iraq, (note the Taliban used to be brutal toward Sunnis).

Israel's last incursion into Palestine shows what not avoiding civilian casualties looks like, no one had praised Israel for restraint in earlier wars. Recent wars in Africa led to even greater civilian bloodbaths. This isn't occurring in Afghanistan because we hear General McChrystal carefully avoids civilian casualties. But Karzai also avoids civilian casualties and constantly complains that the US isn't doing enough, and Mullah Omar also has a strict code of ethics. The most noted example being when the Central Afghan bank wasn't successfully penetrated the suicide-vested attackers didn't blow themselves up on the crowded street in front of the bank but retreated next door to the shopping bazaar complex, ordering everyone out and holding up for hours, not even blowing the bazaar up.

However mass civilian deaths like in other wars could occur if Karzai dies or is out of power, if Omar dies, maybe if Omar does renounce al Qaeda and al Qaeda responds by attacking mosques and bazaars, or there is economic turmoil in the US meaning a firm cut off date and the US leaving without any agreement on what will come next.

Somehow the NY Times ignored Karzai's praise of Iran and Ahmadinejad speaking before the Afghan Parliament until much later when Karzai entered into peace negotiations with Taliban supporting warlord Hekmatyar. Suddenly when negotiations with Hekmatyar started State Department officials began complaining about corruption again in an election system that is so flawed that even UN observers refused to note that husbands were casting their wives' votes.

Peace will likely come and President Obama will be back on the peace track if Dennis Kucinich acknowledges that Hamid Karzai is a peace activist, or if the European peace movement instead of demanding that German and British troops just get out, that they instead get out the moment the US defy's President Karzai again.

There is important Vietnam war history that historians and activists avoid talking about, such as, as the Vietnam War lingered, frustrated hawks began calling for "Nuke Vietnam", these picket signs were at pro-war rallies toward the end of the Vietnam War. In the end, Paul Harvey News came out with "Win or Get Out" which became very popular with the former pro-war circle. Frank Ford, the husband of the former Philadelphia DA, lead the "win or get out" movement locally. Today, as time goes on, less and less people will favor Obama emptying our treasury on the Afghan War. Hawks will say stop worrying about civilian casualties as doves urge that the US get out. By the 2012 election Hawks will demand that the US carpet bomb Afghanistan ever more angry at General McChrystal, Afghan President Karzai and Obama for avoiding civilian casualties. Doves will win out unless a terror attack leads to a George Wallace type more shrill than Glenn Beck seeking the White House. Thought that George Wallace substitute probably won't get elected. If the US leaves Afghanistan without a comprehensive peace treaty and revenge killings follow some voters may hold those voting for the Kucinich resolution responsible. If the European peace movement suddenly became interested in negotiations not a quick exit of their country's troops, they might be able to get the world and Obama back on track again. The Afghan War may be like a roach glue trap where there is no way to win anything and no way to get out. Karzai comes from an intellectual background. He married his wife a fellow intellectual not a slave. He has a lot of political skill. I trust he is more likely to know what's best in relation to what is possible than anyone else.

Hamad Karzai's father and brother were killed by the Taliban. He has as much reason to be angry as most Afghans, under the circumstances he is truly a man of peace. Whatever deal he can work out with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Mullah Omar is probably the best deal available for his country.

For a different version perspectives see,
"Peace Movement Betrays President Karzai",

by Richard Kane

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