Sunday, March 01, 2009

Harper: We can't win in Afghanistan

Finally, the truth:

We're not going to ever defeat the insurgency. My reading of Afghanistan in history is that it's probably had an insurgency forever of some kind.

Who said that? "Taliban Jack?" Some peacenik member of the "pseudo-left," as warhawk Terry Glavin is wont to call us?

Nope. Prime Minister Stephen Harper--levelling with us at last.

At the moment, coalition and civilian deaths are at their highest since the Northern Alliance, with US support, took control of the country in 2001. So far this year, the coalition is killing more civilians than the Taliban are. The Western-backed government of Hamid Karzai is riddled with corruption, implicated in extensive human rights abuses, and dangerously unstable. The Taliban presently control 70% of the country.*

Make no mistake: the reign of the Taliban was a monstrously cruel one, and they are still at it. But the hard men of the Northern Alliance who toppled them are little better. We can't make people democratic; we can't force them to be free. Our intervention, even if undertaken with the best of motives, was doomed to fail. We are seen by too many Afghans simply as foreign occupiers: and for them, even the Taliban is preferable to that.

Bring 'em home, Steve.

*UPDATE: (March 3) Reader Mark Collins notes that this is incorrect. The Western-backed government of Hamid Karzai controls--with assistance--about 30-31% of Afghanistan, but most of the rest is controlled by tribal warlords (58-60%). The Taliban have control of about 10-11% of the country.

Whether this serves as a decisive riposte is open to readers to judge. No matter if the Karzai government is facing the Taliban or sundry regional warlords, the house that the Coalition built is on shaky ground. Here are a few thoughts about the "Afghanification" strategy endorsed by Stephen Harper.

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