PIPE DREAMS FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE OF A LONG WAR


Georgy Gounev – georgygounev@yahoo.com 

The growing unpopularity of the Afghan War and the increased uncertainties of President Hamid Karzai about his political future apparently has given birth to some dangerous illusions.   An important factor contributing to the emergence of a serious threat to the national security of the United States is the temptation of some American politicians to seek an exit out of an undesirable war rather than to find the road to victory. 

Aside from the fact that no participant in any military conflict throughout world history has ever informed the enemy when his side is about to terminate its activities, the recent decision of NATO in Lisbon leaves plenty of room for a highly speculative question. What, if in the immediate aftermath of the Normandy invasion, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin had informed the world that given the length of the war, they decided not to extend the military action against Nazi Germany beyond January 1, 1945?

If we decide to mix the sphere of WWII fantasy with the realities and specifics of the conflict currently ravaging Afghanistan, it would be logical to reach the conclusion that Adolph Hitler’s Reich would have survived the ordeal of the war. At the same time, undoubtedly, in the case of a Western abandonment of Afghanistan the Taliban will not only survive its protracted war against a democratic West, but will have a good chance to achieve victory.

Once the Jihadists start believing that their most cherished dream is turning into reality, they will have a serious incentive to put their operations on hold.  As a matter of fact, they have an even a better option;  they could trade off the battle fields of Afghanistan for the hospitable, uncontrolled and uncontrollable areas of neighboring Pakistan, offering a temporary shelter where they could wait for the best time to come back in the aftermath of the Western withdrawal.

There are some individuals in both Washington and Kabul, who sincerely believe there are good Taliban amongst the bad ones with whom the NATO diplomats and the Karzai government could talk peace.  It is time to clear this defeatist illusion before its inertia acquires the speed and strength to bury all results of the sacrifice and victories of the American military forces and their NATO allies achieved so far on the battlefields of Afghanistan.

On the other hand, what incentive would the Taliban have in order to negotiate with the Karzai regime which day time area of control doesn’t exceed the territory of Kabul?  On the other hand, why would the radical Islamists accept a small part of the cake by talking to President Karzai when they could have it all if NATO forces withdraw?    If the idea of the factual NATO capitulation under the guise of peace negotiations with the “good” component of Taliban becomes a reality, the consequences could be mind boggling. To start with, a possible triumph of Taliban won’t be confined within the borders of Afghanistan.  Such a development will be quick, (as a matter of fact almost momentarily) followed by an aggressive expansion into Central Asia.  The first victim will be Tajikistan with which Afghanistan shares a thousand miles unpatrolled border. The fate of neighboring Kirgizstan will hang in the balance for a little longer.

This development will expand the already powerful river of heroin flowing out of Afghanistan.  Given that only 12.9% of the Afghan population is engaged in growing poppies in a country that produces 90% of the world output of heroine, we could only imagine what will happen if the Taliban decides to engage, say, 75% of the Afghan farmers in this immensely profitable business.  By the way, the most affected countries from such an expansion would be Russia and Iran.

Russia already has approximately 1.5 million drug addicts with a death rate of between 30 and 40 thousand people per year. One could easily imagine what could happen if the growing supply of heroin finds new ways into Russia through the Taliban infested territories of the former Muslim republics of the Soviet Union.

The fact that the predominant ethnic component of Taliban is Pashtu would mean that the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan separating 28 million Pashtu on one side and 15 million more on the other side would mean the emergence of a large territorial base for Al Qaeda encompassing the Pashtu populated areas of both countries.

Then the North Western tribal territories of Pakistan and Afghanistan will be de facto unified into a large rogue area completely dominated by Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Radical Islam will register a huge victory that will speed up the ongoing Islamization of Turkey and will have a powerful impact over the minds of the young generations of Muslims all over the world.

As far as President Karzai is concerned, before joining the Taliban (as he once threatened), he would do much better to recall the fate of the last  Communist Afghan leader, Najibullah, who was installed into power by the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan.  Najibullah, being a far more skillful operator than Karzai, managed to stay in power for four years after the Soviet withdrawal. Unfortunately for him however, the former Afghan leader didn’t leave the country on time, and was captured by the Taliban.  He was brutally tortured, castrated, and his already dead body was hanged in the center of the city.

It is time not just for Mr. Karzai, but for all well-intentioned American peacemakers to realize the simple truth:  There are no and could not be any good totalitarians regardless of whether the name of their ideology is Nazism, or radical Islam.

 

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