As an American who was hopeful about Afghan President Karzai’s call for an all-inclusive Afghan Peace Jirga, (peace conference) with western participation mixed in, I have to convey some grim news, peace advocates have been killed. On the Internet, I recently urged that more westerners join in supporting Hamid Kazai’s efforts. Unfortunately, the Taliban considers the peace conference a trick. Somehow every time Karzai talks peace the drone attacks get more intense.
In places where the Taliban is strong, several tribal leaders were assassinated for promoting this peace effort. This includes Abdul Rahm in April and Rahman Gul along with his two brothers on May 16. It saddens me and troubles me that western peace activists pay so little attention to the deaths of fellow peace activists in Afghanistan,
I guess it is possible that by speaking out for peace these two tribal leaders thought they could go further in defying some al Qaeda directive, if so it’s still bad news.
In response to General McChrystal’s efforts to win the Afghan’s hearts and minds, Mullah Omar issued a new Taliban code of ethics, to do likewise, by trying to fight with less mayhem and collateral damage, and better PR. Besides ordering that girls schools should not be subject to attack, he urges fighters under his control to try to warn people to quit helping the Americans before subjecting them to assassination sometimes beating them up as a last warning. Even if this is still in effect it meant that Abdul Rahm and Rahman Gul were put in an impossible corner between what the Americans suddenly getting very involved where they lived, and demanded things of them and what the Taliban demanded. Administration officials keep talking about showing strength. After he shows enough strength Obama claims he can start negotiations but most Muslims think partly of economic strength, even non-militants proud that they don’t charge interest or borrow much, and have an overinflated idea of the inevitability of Western currency collapse which obviously would lead to a quick US withdrawal. Talking peace while Muslim militants morn the death of a Muslim leader by a drone attack just won’t work. The peace process could, I believe, be salvaged if Hamid Karzai could get the power to condemn the drone war, without the US in response trying to quickly kick him out of office.
Before I continue an article that may be too full of doom and gloom to finish reading, I would like to say I have a proposal of a dream at the end of this essay that since India and Pakistan are now temporarily friendlier to each other than in the past, perhaps they, along with Iran could broker a real peace in that sad part of the world.
An area where I am reluctant to go, but I hope others explore, is the possibility that the Afghan War is more hopeless than a “Catch 22". As I already begun to mention, when the Soviets left, massive carnage and confusion followed as the warlords fought among themselves. Today the more General McChrystal avoids civilian deaths the more tolerable endless war will be. This, as I already began to allude to, especially if Mullah Omar keeps responding with a strict code of ethics, of his own, often individually warning people to specifically stop cooperating with the Americans on a specific project before attacking them, and never attacking open markets and other civilian gatherings. People employed as a soldier or guard no matter what side, can become afraid of not finding work if peace comes. Even some in the Taliban may worry about no longer being able to steal supplies if the US leaves. More than the US military-industrial complex involves an addition to war.
A few women sadly putting back on the burqa while crying that the US or Obama or Kucinich betrayed them will spread the image of betrayal nearly as much as many people shouting betrayal as the death rate climbs from fighters continuing to find work, with various warlords. Those warlords that fought with the US will be free, if the US leaves, from having to avoid civilian casualties.
If the US stays temporarily in Afghanistan, while a new order is being established as Gilbuddin Hekmatyar a, until recently, Taliban supporting warlord tried to arrange, with a power sharing government with President Karzai, instead of cheering the lack of bloodbath, the American public will be incensed if a woman after a short trial is whipped for not wearing a burqa where the US troops are maintaining order or if a traitor to the Taliban is executed while the US troops watch. No matter which scenario happens the American people will be disgusted with the results. Someone please explore the beyond “Catch 22" angle to what the US should do or not do in trying to leave Afghanistan.
For a link to the above bad news insight without connecting it to the larger article click on,
Now back to the article I want to write where there are great roadblocks but some hope for a solution. It should be clear, and unfortunately may soon be very clear, that international monetary collapse and confusion, not al Qaeda’s dreams of non-western values no longer being picked on and ridiculed, (due to overwhelming al Qaeda violence) is the biggest danger to us all. There are various ways to get pride in non-Western culture besides al Qaida’s dreams of mayhem. Palestinians clinging to land despite bulldozers moving forward, if they actually got to stay in the rubble and rebuild would make al Qaeda’s grim tactics then seem to make no sense. Iran’s defiance also offers a hopeful alterative for many in contrast to al Qaeda’s pro-collateral damage mayhem. Google al-Qaeda declares war on Iran to see how much bin Laden doesn’t like Iran.
To make a long story short, the worse way for the war to end would be a severe US depression accompanying a hasty US withdrawal, followed by a restructuring of what it means to be an American such as occurred in the restructuring of what it means to be a Russian, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since militant Muslims believe they are responsible for this, and are proud of it, it has led to endless terror attacks by Muslim extremists, inspired by the belief that they changed Russian history.
Whatever the US does, if done by the US alone, that sad part of the world may end up in misery for many years to come.
The US peace movement has an illusion that the number of Representatives voting to set a firm future date for war funding to end will gradually increase. However, as arbitrary date comes close there would be good reason for several Representatives to get scared and change their mind. Twice when a power sharing cease-fire seemed close, peace groups were flooded with “Don’t betray Afghan Women in the name of peace”. A usually firmly antiwar peace group, the Institute for Policy Studies, when there seemed to be a likelihood of a power-sharing agreement between the pro-Taliban warlord Gilbuddin Hekmatyar and Afghan President Karzai, it suddenly had an article, “fpif, Afghanistan: Should we stay or should we go?” which was an evenhanded debate on whether or not the US should leave. Then later when the imminent peace scare was no longer in the news, it went back to wanting to set a firm future date to stop war funding.
Thus if a clear funds cut off date came near, several Congressional representatives would likely get cold feet. This tendency for an ever changing final date could be solved if Dennis Kucinich’s antiwar funding bill had a preamble that funds should be cut even if Women in Kabul are Forced to Wear Burqas, and even if fighting over who is in charge takes place. However if the war ends due to a depression followed by a restructuring of what it means to be an American, the war may never be over like with the Russians and militant Muslims.
No American in the 2012 election cycle will want to spend money on an endless war, even if the US economy doesn’t fail. Nixon tried carpet bombing North Vietnam and invading Cambodia and Laos, and when that didn’t work “nuke Vietnam” placards decorated the fewer and fewer pro-war events. It is likely that if a Democratic challenger to Obama fails to get the nomination probably because he is considered a hypocrite due to past hedging statements on the war, a Republican might win claiming he will suggest what he considers generous peace terms and the US taking off the gloves and fighting tough if the other side doesn’t accept, leading to more than carpet bombing and the entire Muslim world mad at the US the way they were the Soviet Union, during its Afghan War.
Politically in this country it is perceived that Republicans support big business and the war, while Democrats half support big business and many Democrats are wishy-washy on the war, leading to some of the electorate to be inspired by one or more conservative, and the rest of the voters disgusted with politics, and all kinds of talk about Obama being a coward toward the Military-Industrial-Complex. Instead there should be a sober discussion of why we should get out despite the possibility it could be bad temporary news for the Afghans.
As for what to do, Iran has done things that lesson US problems over there and can do more. There are several things Iran is doing that the US hasn’t acknowledged as being helpful. In Iraq, Iran has urged that Sunnis be part of the government, which lessons the sectarian strife the US may end up again trying to deal with. In Afghanistan Iran encourages, especially Shiite Afghans to come and work in Iran’s oil industry. The money sent home a source of economic stimulus that makes Iraqis more tolerant of the US supported government. Plus Iran looking strong, gives pride to Muslim subject to extremism, which challenges the pride in al Qaeda’s ability to create mayhem, and Ahmadinejad’s lavish praise of Karzai also makes Iraqis proud. The US people wouldn’t let both Bush and Obama actually bow to the King of Jordan and the Saudi King to make up for Muslims bowing to US culture every time a Muslim man puts on a suit or a Muslim woman, wears a dress. If the US would stop pressuring Iran they might be willing to provide the salaries that would keep Afghan fighters from continuing their trade if peace ever gets declared.
The world economic climate is so bad that Australia actually decided to help guarantee the Greek debt. Before Obama risks offering US help to Greece, Obama could end the economic blockade of Cuba and the upcoming sanctions on Iran which would give the world an economic shot in the arm, and Obama could also give the world currency system another economic boast by declaring the war over with Iran paying the fighters to stop fighting. In the near future Iran, Cuba and Venezuela can work with the rest of the world for a more perfect world or in the near future it may be a barter only (without currency) world with people far from farm land resorting to cannibalism in order try to survive.
I know however my solution faces great roadblocks. Al Qaeda is proud of the Muslim belief against usury and thus has an exaggerate belief in the inevitably of the west descending into bankruptcy and currency collapse. I’m sure the professional not amateur terrorists like bin Laden are aware that a volunteer army is expensive and I think bin Laden while contemplating a second terror attack would not want to do anything that might restart a draft and allow the US to fight in a cheaper manner. However, if the future looks like it will be peace, not bankruptcy, bin Laden would be determined to try to do something drastic. Also Israel, or even Turkey or China might not appreciate a peace that they are not part of.
AN UPDATE I WOULD LIKE TO HOPE A CORRECTION
According to Robert Dreyfuss efforts for talks between the Taliban and the Karzai government are still going strong. But how could peace advocates be killed by the same people who want to talk to the Karzai government?
Does the Taliban consist of different people with different outlooks all claiming to represent one organization? Or is Robert Dreyfuss grasping a straws? Whatever is going on I am troubled that western peace groups mostly don't not the deaths of non-western peace leaders. Possibly the al Qaeda loves trouble even though they respect the fact that Mullah Obama has been far more successful at persuasion then they have. It’s not part of this article but I suspect that Mullah Obama won't denounce bin Laden the way Hekmatyar did because since Mullah Omar has real differences with bin Laden, bin Laden is more likely to get even against Mullah Omar if Omar were to follow Hekmatyar's example and denounce al Qaeda. It may be that the new tension between Karzai and US officials may make the Taliban more sympathetic to Karzai then they were last week.
One might conclude that the above essay is a rambling way of conveying that the peace jirga won’t work unless Hamid Karzai has much more freedom to criticize the US. However, anyone conveying bad news needs to somehow have a hopeful carrot attached to it. I hope I have inspired others to write similar pieces, maybe with an email link as a comment to this article, even on the subject of the economy which I also know is a subject of choosing between grim choices and/or a few far away utopian solutions, war and war spending and the economy overlapping issues.
There is somehow a primitive desire to look strong not weak that encompasses every American President that makes sense when it comes to al Qaeda, but not Karzai and I believe not Iran or Mullah Omar. Both Karzai and Mullah Omar never embraced the random mayhem many warlords specialized in, and since he initiated a Taliban code of ethics he would be a better ruler then most Afghans. Let’s give him the power and prestige to control the soldiers from finding employment in the only profession they ever knew. Anyway, without criticizing Obama I want to urge him to temporally stop the drone war and give Afghan President Karzai’s peace efforts as the reason why.
For supporting links, scan this somewhat similar essays,
Richard Kane is retired in Philladelphia PA