Written by Allison Kilkenny
In the words of Atrios, it appears as though the shiny new US strategy for Afghanistan comes down to kill everyone who wants us to leave and then maybe, just maybe, we can go.
Except, that plan becomes muddied when one considers the Taliban uses the U.S. presence in Afghanistan as a recruiting tool. If were fighting the people, who are fighting us because were fighting them, it quickly becomes clear the U.S. will remain forever trapped in a circular quagmire.
Based on the American military experience in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, it is not clear that killing enemy fighters is sufficient by itself to cripple an insurgency.
It turns out, if you occupy a country and kill lots of people, civilians pick up weapons and try to fight back. We call those people insurgents, and by targeting them for execution, it helps those insurgents recruit more of their countrymen.
Beyond assassinations, the only ways out of Afghanistan are diplomatic discussions with the incredibly corrupt Hamid Karzai, the Taliban, and as John Kerry proposes, perhaps Iran. This brings us into the realm of nation-building, a goal Vice-President Biden adamantly insisted the U.S. has no interest in (yet they seem more than willing to meddle in the affairs of the supposedly autonomous leader of Afghanistan).
For example, on CNNs GPS, Kerry nearly snorted when Fareed Zakaria asked if Karzai was capable of negotiating with the Taliban on his own. Oh, no no. A westerner in a suit must be present at all times. Naturally, Kerry might be right. As I stated, Karzai is corrupt, but shouldnt this be a clear indication that it is the U.S. not Afghanistan who is in the business of building Afghanistan? And isnt that nation-building?
But if the U.S. believes its role is nation-builder, then theres no way were going to get out of the region for at least ten years.
I always believed the nation-building/permanent occupation option was off the table because the U.S. simply doesnt have enough cash to fund such an endeavor. But politicians willingness to fire teachers, neglect infrastructure and schools, slash budgets, and consider privatizing Social Security lead me to believe that they will find the money to remain in the Middle East even if that comes at the expense of the empire and the people.
The question is: why are we in Afghanistan? Biden says its to kill and capture Al-Qaeda, an amorphous term that appears to mean anyone fighting the occupying power. CIA Director Leon Panetta says there may be fewer than 50 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan. If thats true, obviously the goal isnt to crush a severely scattered, weak al-Qaeda cell. This means the goal must be nation-building. The wests marionette act with Karzai is proof of such. If thats the case, were going to be in the region for a very long time, and the U.S. simply doesnt have enough resources to sustain the occupation.
Either the empire is going to cave, or the occupation has to end.
About author Allison Kilkenny is a radio host and political humorist, a fancy way of saying writer, who makes shitty world news funny. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, the Beast, 236.com, and Alternet.org’s Wiretap Magazine. Her work has also appeared on The Nation and she is a regular guest on SIRIUS radio.
She doesn’t care if you’re offended by anything she has written.
Further articles can be found at: www.allisonkilkenny.com