Monday, March 26, 2012

How's That "Peace Talks" Racket Working Out?

According to the International Crisis Group, it's not working out all that well. Let me rephrase that.

It's not working at all:

"Bargains are being cut with any and all comers, regardless of their political relevance or ability to influence outcomes. Far from being Afghan-led, the negotiating agenda has been dominated by Washington’s desire to obtain a decent interval between the planned U.S. troop drawdown and the possibility of another bloody chapter in the conflict. The material effect of international support for negotiations so far has been to increase the incentives for spoilers, who include insurgents, government officials and war profiteers of all backgrounds and who now recognise that the international community’s most urgent priority is to exit Afghanistan with or without a settlement."

The ICG's alternative would consist of 1. A "sequenced roadmap" with an emphasis on domestic reconciliation, 2. Political reform and 3. A "multilateral meditation effort" overseen by the United Nations. That would be immeasurably better than the enterprise in capitulation and abandonment the White House is currently running, which the ICG calls "a market-bazaar" policy. Even if Number 3 proved a disaster - which I'd expect would likely be the case - everyone would still be ahead of the game so long as 1 & 2 got some traction.

The problem with any "meditation" or negotiation effort involving the Taliban is that from its very beginnings the Taliban leadership has never found cause to enter into any agreement except for the purpose of breaking it, and every single agreement the Talibs have ever signed - they have agreed to countless regional power-sharing and ceasefire bargains in Pakistan - they have broken.

To get a sense of what we're dealing with here, this is the way these nutters resolve minor points of religious difference and turf-sharing amongst themselves: In a rivalry between the major Pakistani branch of Mullah Omar's Quetta Taliban and Lashkar-e-Islam - a related jihadist outfit that recruits bedlamers to the Afghan jihad from across the border in Khyber - a suicide bomber was sent into a mosque in the Tirah Valley the other day. He detonated himself and killed five people. Earlier this month a Taliban Movement of Pakistan suicide bomber blew himself up in another Lashkar-e-Islam mosque, killing 22 people.

This has left Canadian soldiers to do what they do best: soldier on. And so they should.


Blogger Francis Sedgemore said...

That's an interesting set of proposals in the executive summary of the ICG report to which you link. Well, maybe not so interesting, save, possibly, for the one addressed to Afghanistan's president and parliament on electoral form. A proposal that will likely go down like a bag of warm sick in the office of a certain H. Karzai, whose only concerns now are (a) the preservation and physical integrity of his corporeal being, and (b) a healthy bank balance.

Going by what you and others have written about them, I have every faith in the good folk of Afghanistan. And none whatsoever in those whose actions will decide the fate of said Afghans. What a wasted opportunity.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Within a year of Obama's election, almost everyone of any political profile in Afghanistan - Karzai and his entire clan included - started turning to their own exit strategies. It's the Afghans who cant simply exit that I worry about. A "wasted opportunity" as you say. An understatement.

9:11 AM  

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