Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This Is What 'Negotiating With The Taliban' Will Get You.

. . . Were it not for the rivers of blood that have already flowed from the peace-talks folly, it would be almost comical.

On August 18, British ambassador Sir William Patey, like a character straight out of a Monty Python upper-class twit sketch, tweeted a photograph of himself with Taliban envoy and former Guantanamo inmate Abdul Zaeef at an embassy dinner party, with this note: "Good to see former Talib Zaeef leading prayers - a small gesture of reconciliation." Hours later, a Taliban suicide attack on the British Council in Kabul had left eight people dead.

Only a week ago, Taliban bandits fired rocket-propelled grenades at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, hitting NATO's headquarters and several other buildings in an attack that killed seven Afghans. Cameron Munter, the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, was then reduced to the indignity of admitting that the Taliban faction that carried out the job was working under the care and protection of the Pakistan military. He was then forced to stoop to publicly plead with Pakistan to maybe consider knocking it off.

During our conversation last spring, Rabbani made it plain that he saw a road to peace in Afghanistan, and that it would have to begin with national reconciliation among and between the country's Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, between Sunni and Shia, and so on. "Definitely, we want peace. We don't want war," he said. But if the road taken was to include powersharing with the Taliban, and if the purpose of reconciliation was intended to serve the vultures that gaze over Afghanistan from their perches in Islamabad and Tehran, it would mean a descent into the most savage kind of warfare.

Until Barack Obama's election, President Karzai's eccentric entreaties to his fellow Pashtun "sons of the soil" (Talibanism is almost wholly a Pashtun pathology) were tolerated by most Afghans, who are not Pashtun. The 43 nations contributing to the International Security Assistance Force in the country also put up with it. While the New Democratic Party persists in weirdly claiming credit for the idea, Canada had already gone the distance with it by helping bankroll a reintegration effort that disarmed tens of thousands of militia fighters among the country's Uzbek, Hazara, and Tajik minorities.

What Rabbani feared was that the Pashtun outlanders - the Talibs who refused to give up the gun - would be able to hold out until NATO would end up backing Karzai's survival-mode offers of power-sharing with Mullah Omar and the rest. That has now come to pass. . .Link

That's from my epitaph on the tomb of shaheed Ustad Berhanuddin Rabbani, in today's Ottawa Citizen. Rabanni, and my conversations with him, feature prominently in my book, Come From the Shadows, out next month.

I certainly hope that the "troops out and peace talks" crowd are pleased with themselves now. In Canada, we have been hectored and browbeaten and instructed to give all credit and praise for this racket to the late New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, a man we have been told was prescient to the point of clairvoyance for being first out of the blocks to counsel the very course that has been unfolding in all its slaughterhouse glory these past two years in Afghanistan. Well, comrades, you want credit? Take it, by all means.

In the punditti echo-chamber today, the near-deafening line is that Rabbani's assassination will serve as a "blow" to the peace-talks gambit. In the New Yorker, Dexter Filkins reports that Rabbani's assassination by a Taliban emissary with a bomb in his turban should be "a blow to the very idea that reconciliation with the Taliban is possible—or even desirable." Our own Lauryn Oates pointed out the obvious idiocy two weeks before Rabbani's killing, as she has been doing ever since the faddish stupidity took hold of the idle rich of the NATO capitals some years ago.

In this morning's Independent, we read that "Haroun Mir, a political analyst in Kabul, said that the latest assassination was a further blow for peace." The headline on Alisa Rubin's account in today's New York Times: Assassination Deals Blow to Peace Process in Afghanistan. In the Financial Times, Rabbani's killing is said to be "another blow to the apparently slender prospects of negotiating an end to the fighting before Nato combat forces withdraw in 2014." In the Telegraph: "His death therefore can only be interpreted as an incisive blow to the peace process."

I am not holding my breath. In Washington, Paris, London and Toronto, the fantasists to whose eyes John Lennon's Imagine still brings puppy tears are not going to surrender their hold on the political culture just because some Muzzie they'd never heard of got blown up in Afghanistan yesterday.

The Afghan hope for national reconciliation in the form of a truth and reconciliation initiative and a law prohibiting warlords from holding office was dealt a death blow long ago. Rabbani's assassination may well serve as a fatal blow to the fiction that the NATO countries' capitulation to the Talibs and their co-jihadists and their financiers in Tehran, Rawalpindi and Islamabad is an "Afghan-led" process. Getting that lie behind us can't be a bad thing. But I have no reason to believe that the lies will end here. Neither will the absurd proposition that one can reason within what is in fact a fanatical revolt against reason itself.

When the Taliban fired rockets at the founding jirga of the High Peace Council in Kabul in June 2010, putting the fear of Allah into the 1,600 kalan nafar Karzai had there assembled, the message did not disturb anyone at their morning crepes in the Annex. The delusions did not end when the brave Afghan security chief Amrullah Saleh was obliged to resign by Afghan president Hamid Karzai's insistence that he go along with the lie that it was not the Taliban, it must have been someone else who fired the rockets and dispatched three whackjobs with suicide vests in the direction of the gathering.

The pantomime continued even though the Taliban stepped up their assassination campaign and went on to slaughter more Afghans last year than in any year since their regrouping in 2006. "The tide of war is receding," Barack Obama soothingly reassured his fan base, just when all the evidence had confirmed that the tide of war was rising like some kind of tsunami - and that is exactly what is to be expected when you give the Taliban every reason to fight and maim and terrorize their way to their best advantage at the 2014 troop-withdrawal abandonment Obama so helpfully announced in advance.

We heard the same murmured gee-golly doubts about the wisdom of proceeding with the peace-talks racket when the Taliban assassinated Syed Khili, the police chief in Kunduz. We heard the same timid suggestion that maybe the Taliban aren't really interested in peace when they butchered Daoud Daoud, the northern police commander, and when they killed Kandahar police chief Khan Mohammed, and when they killed Karzai adviser Jan Mohammad Khan, and even when they killed Karzai's gangland half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai in Kandahar.

We heard the same dire whisperings of a "blow" to the so-called peace process when a Taliban suicide squad attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in June, and when a Taliban suicide attack left eight Afghans dead at the British Council in Kabul last month, and last week when they attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO HQ in Kabul, killing seven Afghans.

And just what, exactly, is the point of persisting in the lie? What does the world's top one per cent in riches propose to leave the Afghan people, who still hover at the bottom one per cent? Even if it were possible for the handsome American president to "lead from behind" and conjure the terms of some squalid capitulation to the Taliban - that is now the West's definition of victory in Afghanistan, please note - what should we expect our brave Afghan friends to do then?

“They will go to the mountains to fight for their rights,” says the courageous Afghan MP Fawzi Koofi. Says Amrullah Saleh: "First, a massacre campaign will start. The human cost in this country will easily be up to two million people killed, at least."


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