Friday, March 23, 2012

Get Real or Go Home.

Michael Gerson in WaPo: "At nearly every stage of Obama’s Afghan war, he has surrounded even reasonable decisions with a fog of ambivalence. His initial Afghan policy review was a botched mess of vicious infighting, leaked classified material and mixed messages. His decision to pursue the Afghan surge seemed more of a reluctant concession than the expression of a firm conviction. His public statements on the war and its aims are rare — mainly made in response to reporters’ questions."

Nothing ambivalent from Al Qaida crime boss Ayman al-Zawahiri: "Honorable Afghans, the way is clear! It is either to stand by the banner of Islam to fight and support the Mujahideen using your hand, tongue, money and heart," the al Qaeda leader says. "Or you will be humiliated in this life and be punished in the hereafter."

Ahmed Rashid is a writer I much admire, even though his contributions lately are notable mostly as the pleadings of a Pakistani patriot with a broken heart: "People are saying that the American presence in Afghanistan is causing all of this, which I think is a very simplistic explanation. But there's a lot of criticism of the United States and partly it's being sponsored by the government, by the army, by the right-wing fundamentalist parties. Because they find it easier to blame someone outside rather than look inwards and look at Pakistan's own problems and weaknesses and try and resolve them. ... The failure of Pakistanis to look inward into themselves and ask themselves the right questions rather than blaming constantly India, America or Israel — as Pakistan tends to do — is not resolving anything."

Well said. But Rashid is becoming increasingly frantic in his insistence on a triangular rapprochement between Pakistan, the United States and the Taliban. The tragedy of that is that it's merely the vain hope for a magic elixir to cure what ails his own country. For Rashid, some sort of deal with the Taliban with the signatures of Pakistani generals on it is the last chance to keep Pakistan from sinking into full bore failed-state bedlam. So Rashid deserves sympathy.

But Afghans would pay the full price of this straw-grasping, and Pakistan's collapse in one form or another is almost certainly unavoidable anyway. Pakistan is a sinkhole that the United States continues to pretend is just a pothole. It's a degenerated military-industrial complex masquerading as a UN member state, a petri dish filled with the most toxic forms of bacteria that for too long have been allowed to circulate throughout a portion of the earth that contains a fifth of humanity. Pakistan is threatening to drag the entire region down into the abyss of its own deepening barbarism. Pakistan's generals know this, they like it this way, and they exploit the threat to their every advantage.

Sorry, but Afghanistan has suffered from this obscene arrangement long enough - more than 30 years - and so has every country that has put its shoulder to the wheel of Afghan reconstruction since 2001. India especially, with its 1.2 billion people, should not be expected to be held hostage much longer to a Beijing-guaranteed ransom stream that pleases "war weary" Americans who want a quiet life for themselves. Tolerance of the Pakistani ruling elites, with all their cunning sabotage, backstabbing duplicity and racketeering, has served only to ensure that "American interests" in the region are more easily managed, at everyone else's expense. Enough, I reckon.

In Rawalpindi, Islamabad, and Washington, they all have to be told that the jig is up.


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