The Bush Administration has not posted signs, not yet, welcoming the Taliban back to Afghanistan. But all the signs and indices are there.
Installing a particularly corrupt government, enabling acres and acres to grow poppies turned into heroin and wantonly killing Afghan men, women and lots of children amount to the same thing. The U.S. sudden victory nearly seven years ago was entirely predicated on the general population's rejection of the fundamentalist Islamists. It seems, in recent years, Americans utilized everything in their power to breed disgust and rejection by the people.
Kabul's number one Brit and a renowned expert on Islamic matters, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, warned the French deputy ambassador earlier this week: "The current situation is bad, the security situation is getting worse, and the government has lost all trust," according to The New York Times.
The New York Times' and The Washington Post's front pages Thursday echoed that warning but the media's sources were in this country. A nearly completed National Intelligence Estimate was quoted as depicting the situation in Afghanistan on a "downward spiral."
British diplomat Cowper-Coles urged that the time has come to sit down at the negotiating table with the country's former rulers, looking for a possible exit. Meanwhile U.S. leaders, in the White House pocket, call for sending in thousands more Marines; they will presumably exacerbate the situation. The military solution necessarily calls for killings after killings. Since no general wants the onus of urging a pullout, there is little choice available.
The blame universally affixes to President Hamid Karzai and the corruption he has festered in Kabul. Having his brother singled out as a mega-dealer in drugs reinforced the image of a government that wastes U.S. funding by handing it around to insiders. How much? A low estimate puts the figure at $2-2.5 billion. Contracts put the real figure through the roof. And still counting.
A major part of the estimate bundling lies in Pakistan; there's no way to sunder apart the two countries. They're in the same muddle, poor and Islamic, metropolitan and rural – to which must be added hills. As Afghanistan, the central government's power fades on the edges. That's where tribal leaders flourish.
Scanning the history of that region, little has changed; certainly not in the last couple of centuries.
Afghans are true mountain people; they don't trust people from the next valley. True foreigners are feared because they tend to stick around. The Brits lost several thousand soldiers and civilians; one army was wiped out. Russians finally had a go at taking over Afghanistan; they lasted maybe 10 years. In my view, outsiders, like Osama bin Laden and the CIA, walked away with more credit than they deserve. The Soviet soldiers were doomed from the get-go; they were gone in 1989.
The Taliban moved in and proceeded to demonstrate they learned nothing from the Messenger and his Book, the Qur'an. In that sense, the whole world was behind George W. Bush when he pushed the buttons to go in, after 9/11.
The American presence in that part of the world stands now teetering, virtually on the edge of collapse. The early mistakes were monumental, based on self-perception of hallowed intelligence and strength. Given recorded civilization began somewhere in the neighborhood, how could anyone seriously believe descendents of ancient people would have been subject to "shock and awe," no matter the weaponry. Disbanding the army was insurgents' dream.
The miracle, I suppose, is that the U.S.-led coalition lasted so long, in both countries. Time to get out of there, which is what the British ambassador and our own leaked report say.