Needing an Exit from Afghan Quagmire

The failure of U.S. policy in Afghanistan has been obvious for years, but neither President Bush nor President Obama wanted the defeat hung on them, so the bloody folly goes on, a test for the next president, says Alon Ben-Meir.

By Alon Ben-Meir

Two weeks ago, President Obama announced that the U.S. will draw down its troops in Afghanistan from 9,800 to 8,400, altering his original plan to reduce the number to 5,500. His decision suggests that conditions on the ground are not as promising as he expected them to be, and maintaining a larger number of troops is important as he believes “it is in our national security interests … that we give our Afghan partners the best opportunities to succeed.”

The President, however, did not spell out what success actually means. If he meant that Afghanistan will eventually become a stable and functioning democracy, he is fundamentally mistaken. Indeed, even if the U.S. stations three times as many troops for another 15 years or more, given the multiple conflicts, ruthlessness and duplicity of the players involved and the country’s long history, the U.S. cannot rescue Afghanistan from the quagmire in which it finds itself.

President Barack Obama saluting coffins of dead U.S. soldiers returned from Afghanistan to Dover Air Force Base. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama saluting coffins of dead U.S. soldiers returned from Afghanistan to Dover Air Force Base. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

The President’s concluding remarks strongly suggest that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is essentially open-ended, saying: “given the enormous challenges they face, the Afghan people will need the partnership of the world, led by the United States, for many years to come.”

The facts on the ground remind us of the Vietnam War — a needlessly prolonged conflict with no prospect of victory — except that the war in Afghanistan is even more complicated and becoming increasingly intractable. To understand what the U.S. strategy should be to end a war that has lasted more than any other in U.S. history, consider the following:

First, Afghanistan is a landlocked country with a rugged and mountainous terrain replete with thousands of caves, some of which are miles long and familiar only to the indigenous population. Historically, no power has been able to conquer and sustain its conquest of Afghanistan from the time of Alexander the Great, including the Mongols, the British Empire, and Soviet Russia.

Demographically, the country has a population of 32 million, 99 percent of whom are Muslims, composed of tribes and kinship-based groups in a multilingual and multi-ethnic society. As such, the country is politically divided and lacks social and political cohesiveness.

Taliban Resilience

Second, given the history and determination of the Taliban, bringing them to submission was always a non-starter. Even though the U.S. is fully aware that many Taliban militants operate from safe havens inside Pakistan and other hard-to-reach areas, the U.S. is still unwilling to confront Pakistan, giving the Taliban no incentive to negotiate in earnest.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with U.S. troops at Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama shakes hands with U.S. troops at Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As long as this situation remains unchanged, the touch-and-go negotiations over the past 14 years will lead to nowhere. Just like the Vietcong, the Taliban strongly feel that they will eventually wear out any government in Kabul, and will keep fighting and make all the sacrifices until they exhaust the U.S. and eventually prevail.

Third, Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan — the Durand Line — stretches through the entire southern and eastern boundary between the two countries and is poorly delineated and unprotected. It divides the Pashtun tribes of the region between Afghanistan and Pakistan and has been a source of increasing tension between the two countries, which explains Pakistan’s unique concerns and determination to protect its national interests and have a say about Afghanistan’s current and future political order.

There is concrete evidence, revealed by the former head of Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency, Rahmatullah Nabil, that Pakistan fully supports the Afghani Taliban to achieve a dual purpose: maintain its influence in Afghanistan, and prevent India from establishing a presence in the country, thereby thwarting any effort by New Delhi from encircling it.

Chris Alexander, Canada’s former Citizenship and Immigration Minister and former Ambassador to Afghanistan, flatly stated “Canada and its allies must take a united front against Pakistan because it is a sponsor of terrorism that threatens world security.”

That said, the Obama administration was and still is unwilling to confront Pakistan because the U.S. views the country as an ally in the war on terror, and the Pakistani military serves to secure the U.S. strategic interests in south and central Asia.

Fourth, the growing presence of ISIS and the return of strong elements of Al Qaeda, numbering between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters, have become increasingly evident in the mountainous region along the Pakistani border. Their recent attack against the Hazara minority killed 80 people, presumably because members of the community provided some support to the Assad regime in Syria.

U.S. military spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland aptly put it: “That’s our concern, these high profile attacks, they are effective because they’re not that difficult to achieve.”

It can be expected that ISIS attacks will become more frequent, especially because of its steady retreat in Iraq and Syria, while further destabilizing Afghanistan and complicating the war efforts regardless of the extent of the U.S. continuing military backing.

Fifth, the premature introduction of democracy to Afghanistan is inconsistent with the culture of tribalism and dominance of Islam orthodoxy in the country. Although the new constitution recognizes gender equality, participatory politics, and some civic and political rights, it has also institutionalized tribal nationalism and ethnic hierarchy.

Given the above, one might ask why did the U.S,. under both the Bush-43 and Obama administrations, feel that it could go to any Muslim country, such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and others, ravage them, and then impose political values of which they are not disposed or willing to accept?

Afghanistan’s social and political setting makes it prone to ethnic and civil wars and the breakdown of state institutions. The West can at best provide only a model of democracy, and has no business going far and wide to promote its political culture which is alien to the natives and doing so under the gun no less.

A Losing Gamble

This Vietnam approach must come to an end in Afghanistan. It is reminiscent of a slot machine gambler who pours money into the machine, hoping to get the jackpot that never materializes, finally leaving the machine exasperated and broke. Neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama learned the bitter lessons of Vietnam, and both poured money and resources into a failing enterprise with no end in sight.

President George W. Bush pauses for applause during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003, when he made a fraudulent case for invading Iraq. Seated behind him are Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (White House photo)

President George W. Bush pauses for applause during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003, when he made a fraudulent case for invading Iraq. Seated behind him are Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (White House photo)

After the U.S. officially spent more than $650 billion in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, in addition to $150 billion contributed by other allied countries, Afghanistan remains a mess. Bribes and favoritism are pandemic, and hundreds of millions are skimmed by corrupt officials, over which hardly anyone frowns.

As things stand now, the four-nation group (comprised of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the U.S.) has no plans to resume the negotiations with the Taliban, which has refused to participate in any negotiations since January, fundamentally disagreeing about the political framework that should govern Afghanistan in the future.

The next U.S. administration must change course and develop an exit strategy that offers some face saving way out. An agreement that all conflicting parties should accept rests on three pillars: It is a given that the Taliban must be an integral part of any future government, as long as they commit themselves to basic human rights, specifically in connection with women, and prevent Al Qaeda and other extremist groups (including ISIS) from using Afghanistan as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against the U.S. or any of its allies.

The moral argument against the Taliban has to be based on religious precepts to which they can relate and would enable them to change their ways without losing face.

For example, there is nothing in the Koran that permits discrimination against women – rather, we find a defense of gender equality: “I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way; be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other.” (3:195) Nor is there any indication in the Koran that women are not permitted to receive an education.

Pakistan will have to be, for the reasons cited above, part and parcel of any solution to protect its national security interests and prevent India from meddling in Afghani affairs. Islamabad must also commit to ridding the country of radical Islamists, especially Al Qaeda.

From everything we know, Pakistan and the Taliban can agree on such a political formula. The U.S. should withdraw its forces from the country over a period of a couple of years, leaving behind a contingency of a few hundred military personnel, along with a United Nations presence, to monitor and ensure compliance with the agreement.

After 15 years of fighting, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, and tens of thousands killed on both sides, Afghanistan is not better off today than it was immediately following the collapse of the Taliban regime. The upcoming American administration must commit itself to ending Afghanistan’s quagmire, because short of a negotiated agreement, there will be no victory against the Taliban any more than America’s disguised defeat in Vietnam.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. alon@alonben-meir.com           Web: www.alonben-meir.com

 

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13 comments for “Needing an Exit from Afghan Quagmire

  1. Sally Snyder
    August 5, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Here is an article that looks at the level of government corruption in Afghanistan:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2016/04/the-relationship-between-government.html

    With several of the world’s most corrupt governments being among the nations that have recently experienced outside “intervention” by the world’s developed nations, one would almost think that there was a relationship developing between conflict and corruption.

  2. Brad Owen
    August 5, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Being there probably has something to do with the heroin trade. Did Taliban try to shut it down? I’ve read where the bankster cartel considers the world drug trade as one of its’ primary “liquid assets”.

  3. alexander
    August 5, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for a fine article Dr Ben-Meir.

    One has gotten to the point, in witnessing the never ending conflict in Afghanistan, to assume that continuous failure is not the exception but the rule.

    The Neocon concept of victory is making sure the conflict never ends, but lumbers on decade after decade supplying a steady stream of revenues to our well-heeled coterie of “perpetual war” profiteers.

    Is there any reason why we should assume this is not the case ?

    What have we accomplished over there but gotten a lot of people killed, year after year, and wasted enormous sums of wealth, in the process ?

  4. Zachary Smith
    August 5, 2016 at 10:08 am

    “Even though the U.S. is fully aware that many Taliban militants operate from safe havens inside Pakistan and other hard-to-reach areas, the U.S. is still unwilling to confront Pakistan, giving the Taliban no incentive to negotiate in earnest.”

    “Chris Alexander, Canada’s former Citizenship and Immigration Minister and former Ambassador to Afghanistan, flatly stated “Canada and its allies must take a united front against Pakistan because it is a sponsor of terrorism that threatens world security.”

    “Pakistan fully supports the Afghani Taliban to achieve a dual purpose: maintain its influence in Afghanistan, and prevent India from establishing a presence in the country, thereby thwarting any effort by New Delhi from encircling it.”

    “Historically, no power has been able to conquer and sustain its conquest of Afghanistan from the time of Alexander the Great, including the Mongols, the British Empire, and Soviet Russia.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Let me see if I can summarize this. The US needs to get out of Afghanistan because it’s all bogged down and has accomplished nothing. Pakistan is the reason we’ve gotten nowhere because that nation supports the Taliban. Presumably Pakistan will continue to meddle in Pakistan because of India. This means that Pakistan will be ground down between the millstones of Afghanistan (The Destroyer of Empires) and India.

    This is a worthy goal because Pakistan is the only Muslim nation with nukes – a theoretical threat to Holy Israel.

    The US needs to skedaddle and let it happen.

  5. J'hon Doe II
    August 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Afghanistan ought to be broken up (balkanized) according to tribes and languages.

    There are Pushtuns, and Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Pashto and Hazaras. Separate ‘nations’ within the 250,000 square miles of Afghanistan should make for less complicated negotiation. This would be actual Nation Building.

    After the futile 15 years of discombobulated military actions it’s time for a new and different approach to the pacification of this mineral rich un-governed nation.

    In the beginning it was all about PIPELINES – that’s why we installed Hamid Karzai as President and Zalmay Khalilzad as US Ambassador — both worked for oil companies in the US. It’s why we once offered the Taliban “Carpets of Gold.”

    There’s no military solution to the Afghan dilemma. We won’t leave because we desire their natural resources. A nation-states approach formed under authority of the UN Security Counsel (and more US Billions) just may nudge the tribes toward pacification, successful self governance (and prosperous Contracts for the IMF).

    • Zachary Smith
      August 5, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      There isn’t a decent military solution to Afghanistan. But if you withhold the “decency”, there IS the Mongol solution.

      Two hundred thousand Mongols marched west to chastise the Khwarizm Shah in the year 1219. By 1221 Balkh, Herat, the Seistan, Ghazni, Bamiyan and all points in between had fallen before the onslaught and ” . . . with one stroke a world which billowed with fertility was laid desolate, and the regions thereof became a desert and the greater part of the living dead and their skins and bones crumbling dust; and the mighty were humbled and immersed in the calamities of perdition.” So says Juvaini, an eloquent eye-witness chronicler writing only thirty years later. The ruined citadel of the Shansabani capital in Bamiyan is a poignant, visual monument to the presence of Genghis Khan in Afghanistan. Its name, Shahr- -Gholghola, “City of Noise,” refers to the tumult of that final massacre during which the conqueror fulfilled a vow to kill every man, woman and child, every animal and plant in the valley of Bamiyan.

      Recovery was slow. The great irrigation works which had enabled this land to produce an abundance lay broken and useless, purposely destroyed by Genghis Khan; anarchy so frightened traders that they turned to the sea, and the great cities of the desert and the plain, robbed of their livelihood, became mounds of sand.

      Emptying the West Bank without all the destruction is probably going to be the “solution” to the Palestinian problem.

  6. J'hon Doe II
    August 5, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    It’s Not Just the Oil. The Middle East War and the Conquest of Natural Gas Reserves

    October 08, 2012
    (excerpts)

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/its-not-just-the-oil-the-middle-east-war-and-the-conquest-of-natural-gas-reserves/5307589

    The Afghanistan war was planned before 9/11 (see this and this). According to French intelligence officers, the U.S. wanted to run an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to transport Central Asian oil more easily and cheaply. And so the U.S. told the Taliban shortly before 9/11 that they would either get “a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs”, the former if they greenlighted the pipeline, the second if they didn’t. See this, this and this.
    :

    U.S. companies such as Unocal (lead on the proposed pipeline) and Enron (and see this), with full U.S. government support, continued to woo the Taliban right up until 2001 in an attempt to sweet-talk them into green-lighting the pipeline.

    For example, two French authors with extensive experience in intelligence analysis (one of them a former French secret service agent) – claim:

    Until August [2001], the US government saw the Taliban regime “as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of an oil pipeline across Central Asia” from the rich oilfields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean. Until now, says the book, “the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that.”
    :

    Soon after the start of the Afghan war, Karzai became president (while Le Monde reported that Karzai was a Unocal consultant, it is possible that it was a mix-up with the Unocal consultant and neocon who got Karzai elected, Zalmay Khalilzad). In any event, a mere year later, a U.S.-friendly Afghani regime signed onto TAPI.
    :

    Competing Pipe Dreams
    Virtually all of the current global geopolitical tension is based upon whose vision of the “New Silk Road” will control.

    But before we can understand the competing visions, we have to actually see the maps:

    With maps in hand, we can now discuss the great geopolitical battle raging between the U.S. and its allies, on the one hand, and Russia, China and Iran, on the other hand.

    Indeed, the “Great Game” being played right now by the world powers largely boils down to the United States and Russia fighting for control over Eurasian oil and gas resources:

    Russia and the USA have been in a state of competition in this region, ever since the former Soviet Union split up, and Russia is adamant on keeping the Americans out of its Central Asian backyard. Russia aims to increase European gas dominance on its resources whereas the US wants the European Union (EU) to diversify its energy supply, primarily away from Russian dominance. There are already around three major Russian pipelines that are supplying energy to Europe and Russia has planned two new pipelines.

    The third “big player” in this New Great Game is China, soon to be the world’s biggest energy consumer, which is already importing gas from Turkmenistan via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to its Xinjiang province — known as the Central Asia-China Pipeline — which may tilt the balance towards Asia. Pepe Escobar calls it the opening of the 21st century Silk Road in 2009 when this pipeline became operational. China’s need for energy is projected to increase by 150 per cent which explains why it has signed probably the largest number of deals not just with the Central Asian republics but also with the heavily sanctioned Iran and even Afghanistan. China has planned around five west-east gas pipelines, within China, of which one is operational (domestically from Xinjiang to Shanghai) and others are under construction and will be connected to Central Asian gas reserves.

    Another important country is Iran. Iran sits on the second largest gas reserves in the world and has over 93 billion barrels of proven oil reserves with a total of 4.17 million barrels per day in 2009. To the dislike of the United States, Iran is a very active player. The Turkmenistan-Iran gas pipeline, constructed in 1997, was the first new pipeline going out from Central Asia. Furthermore, Iran signed a $120 billion gas exploration deal, often termed the “deal of the century” with China. This gas deal signed in 2004 entails the annual export of approximately 10 million tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China for 25 years. It also gives China’s state oil company the right to participate in such projects as exploration and drilling for petrochemical and gas industries in Iran. Iran also plans to sell its gas to Europe through its Persian Gas pipeline which can become a rival to the US Nabucco pipeline. More importantly, it is also the key party in the proposed Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, also formerly known as the “peace pipeline.” Under this pipeline plan, first proposed in 1995, Iran will sell gas from its mega South Pars fields to Pakistan and India.

    China’s support for Iran is largely explained by oil and gas:

    Referring to China, Escobar states “most important of all, ‘isolated’ Iran happens to be a supreme matter of national security for China, which has already rejected the latest Washington sanctions without a blink” and that “China may be the true winner from Washington’s new sanctions, because it is likely to get its oil and gas at a lower price, as the Iranians grow ever more dependent on the China market.”

    Why Syria?
    You might ask why there is so much focus on Syria right now.

    Well, Syria is an integral part of the proposed 1,200km Arab Gas Pipeline:

    Syria Turkey The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil … Theyre Also About GAS

    So yes, regime change was planned against Syria (as well as Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan and Iran) 20 years ago.

    And yes, attacking Syria weakens its close allies Iran and Russia … and indirectly China.

    But Syria’s central role in the Arab gas pipeline is also a key to why it is now being targeted.

    Just as the Taliban was scheduled for removal after they demanded too much in return for the Unocal pipeline, Syria’s Assad is being targeted because he is not a reliable “player”.

    Specifically, Turkey, Israel and their ally the U.S. want an assured flow of gas through Syria, and don’t want a Syrian regime which is not unquestionably loyal to those 3 countries to stand in the way of the pipeline … or which demands too big a cut of the profits.

    Pepe Escobar sums up what is driving current global geopolitics and war:

    What you’re really talking about is what’s happening on the immense energy battlefield that extends from Iran to the Pacific Ocean. It’s there that the liquid war for the control of Eurasia takes place.

    Yep, it all comes down to black gold and “blue gold” (natural gas), hydrocarbon wealth beyond compare, and so it’s time to trek back to that ever-flowing wonderland – Pipelineistan.

    Postscript: It’s not just the Neocons who have planned this strategy. Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser (Brzeznski) helped to map out the battle plan for Eurasian petroleum resources over a decade ago, and Obama is clearly continuing the same agenda.

    Some would say that the wars are also be about forcing the world into dollars and private central banking, but that’s a separate story.

    • akech
      August 5, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      J’hon Doe II ,

      Your comment has given this old l human an piece of information I may have died without knowing.

      Thank you!

      ********************************************************************************
      Why don’t these elites just sit down with the countries producing and consuming these products and negotiate the costs associated with exploration, exploitation and transportation of the two resources through the pipelines to their final destinations. The costs can easily be prorated in the same way International Air Transport Association (IATA) share the costs of transporting passengers by various airlines to various destinations around the world.
      Why have these marauding elites decided, instead, to (a) manufacture expensive weapons costing trillions and trillions $$$$ (b) use these costly weapons to murder millions and millions citizens of the world (c) lay waste irreplaceable artworks, cultural heritage, buildings and other infrastructures which tell the history of human ingenuity in various parts of the world (d) cut down trees and pollute both air and water to the point that breathing or drinking becomes dangerous to human health (e) lie about what they are doing?????? What is the end game here? If the world domination is their intended end game, what do these elites hope to do after the last shot is fired or last bomb is dropped? Are these elites really as intelligent as they claim to be or are they merely genocidal psychopaths who relish destroying people, things and planet earth?

      • Brad Owen
        August 6, 2016 at 8:56 am

        They don’t negotiate, even though it would be cheaper than fighting wars for these commodities, because it is NOT simply about acquiring commodities and building infrastructure etc…The West, The EU/NATO grouping, is the new Roman Empire and they are securing themselves from ANY possible recurrence of a Muslim Empire OR a “Golden Horde” Empire, BOTH of which impacted disastrously upon European civilization (the Slavs are Slavs BECAUSE they were SLAVES to the Mongol Empire, requiring CENTURIES to free themselves from their enslavement). The wars and Deep State shenanigans are to keep BOTH Muslim AND Asian cultures off-balance,and in retreat from any possible EXPANSION into Euro (INCLUDING America/dollar) sphere of influence. Zionism is just a TACTIC to ENABLE this Geo-stratigic objective, as will be “Kurdistan” and Uighur schemes to destabilize Turkey and China. THIS is primary, NOT the commodities, and infrastructure for delivering same. It’s important to get this, because it doesn’t HAVE TO BE this way. China’s, and BRICS, peace offering to the West is for real. WE should take them up on it, and COOPERATE in the building of global infrastructure and greening the World’s deserts with the World’s Oceans, and China’s space program to recover hydrogen isotope from the Moon to fuel Fusion Reactors on Earth to get away from Carbon-based fuels and global warming

        • Brad Owen
          August 6, 2016 at 9:09 am

          They don’t negotiate, even though it would be cheaper than fighting wars for these commodities, because it is NOT simply about acquiring commodities and building infrastructure etc…The West, The EU/NATO grouping, is the new Roman Empire and they are securing themselves from ANY possible recurrence of a Muslim Empire OR a “Golden Horde” Empire, BOTH of which impacted disastrously upon European civilization (the Slavs are Slavs BECAUSE they were SLAVES to the Mongol Empire, requiring CENTURIES to free themselves from their enslavement). The wars and Deep State shenanigans are to keep BOTH Muslim AND Asian cultures off-balance,and in retreat from any possible EXPANSION into Euro (INCLUDING America/dollar) sphere of influence. Zionism is just a TACTIC to ENABLE this Geo-stratigic objective, as will be “Kurdistan” and Uighur schemes to destabilize Turkey and China. THIS is primary, NOT the commodities, and infrastructure for delivering same. It’s important to get this, because it doesn’t HAVE TO BE this way. China’s, and BRICS, peace offering to the West is FOR REAL (a new Zeitgeist is in play). WE should take them up on it, and COOPERATE in the building of global infrastructure and greening the World’s deserts with the World’s Oceans, and China’s space program to recover hydrogen isotope from the Moon to fuel Fusion Reactors on Earth to get away from Carbon-based fuels.
          And I MUST state again, the Muslim AND “Golden Horde” Empires were a DISASTER for European Civilization, to be deterred at all costs.THIS is what the current Statesmen are thinking.

  7. Jerry
    August 5, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    “The next U.S. administration must change course and develop an exit strategy that offers some face saving way out. An agreement that all conflicting parties should accept rests on three pillars: It is a given that the Taliban must be an integral part of any future government, as long as they commit themselves to basic human rights, specifically in connection with women, and prevent Al Qaeda and other extremist groups (including ISIS) from using Afghanistan as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against the U.S. or any of its allies.”

    Given everything that the author wrote prior to the paragraph quoted above, what reason is there to think that any such agreement is at all likely, not merely possible in theory? If this were all it would take, why hasn’t it happened already? How long should the U.S. wait for this to happen? How much more blood and treasure must we squander before we get out?

    Just who is it who has not learned the lesson of Vietnam?

    • stinky rafsanjani
      August 7, 2016 at 1:09 am

      “It is a given that the Taliban must be an integral part of any future government, as long as they commit themselves to basic human rights, specifically in connection with women, and prevent Al Qaeda and other extremist groups (including ISIS) from using Afghanistan as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against the U.S. or any of its allies.”

      why make any demands at all? the taliban was the government until we
      removed them. looks like they’ve managed to maintain popular support,
      enough to govern at least. if they can manage the country, it’s allah’s
      will. they have no love for either AQ or ISIS and will deal with them
      accordingly. i’m sure they realize if the country is used as a launching
      pad, there will be consequenses.

      don’t know why we’re making a fuss over “wimmin’s rights” here. that’s an
      internal matter for afghanistan. really none of our business. or else why
      not include gay rights and require they commit to transgender bathrooms
      in all mosques?

      however, if we truly need to meddle, let’s meddle in one of the middle
      east’s only true democracies that ensure full rights for women….
      ….saudi arabia.

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