Tell me again, once we deprived al Qaeda of the use of Afghanistan as a base, and once we shot its founding genius through the eye in the dead of night, why is this country still tangled up in Afghanistan, where too many people have wanted to kill too many people for far, far too long?
Tuesday’s bombing happened during the morning rush hour in Pul-e-Mahmud, a busy neighbourhood where homes, mosques, schools and businesses nestle close to the Ministry of Defence, other ministries and military compounds. Soldiers and security officers are reported to be among the casualties, but the majority are civilians, says the BBC Afghan Service’s Waheed Massoud. The blast shattered windows up to 1.6 km (one mile) away. The Associated Press quoted a police officer as saying it was one of the most powerful explosions he had ever heard, and he could not see or hear anything for 20 minutes after. It appears the initial blast cleared the way for Taliban fighters to enter the area—a commonly used tactic.
(Interesting. The Taliban succeeds with a sort of tactic that failed for Ambrose Burnside and the Army of the Potomac.)
There is no solution to the problem of Afghanistan except a conscious decision made by the people of that country to stop killing each other. This is a solution impervious to outside influence. Going back to Alexander the Great, the great powers have decided that, for their own purposes, they can get the people of Afghanistan to stop killing each other. All that accomplished was giving them an enemy that they could agree temporarily to start killing. Once the outside forces limped back through the Hindu Kush, the people of Afghanistan went right back to killing each other again.
I’m fully aware of the bloody legacy of the various imperialisms that have afflicted this battered place for almost as long as the world has been aware of Afghanistan. I’m fully aware that its impoverished people have been used as pawns by blundering Western opportunists from the Viscount Melbourne to Charlie Wilson. I’m fully aware that its impoverished people have been ground up as empire fodder by everyone from Queen Victoria to Mikhail Gorbachev. All of these things add up to a long, bloody, and tragic history that should have been a caution to American policymakers. All of these things do not add up to a reason for the people of Afghanistan to keep slaughtering each other in the marketplace.
We are trying to create and sustain a country among people who are not sure they really want one, and who are extremely sure that they don’t want one that relies on outside support to survive. We’ve exchanged the British East India Company for Unocal, and the hatred of the oligarchical meddling by Western business interests has been constant and unchanging. We make the same mistakes, over and over again, because we can’t get our own vision of Afghanistan out of the way long enough to see the real people who live there.
Unconfirmed claims suggest they managed to breach the defences of the National Directorate of Security, the main spy agency which protects high-ranking government officials. The presidential palace—only a few hundred metres from the blast—condemned the attack “in the strongest possible terms.” “Such cowardly terrorist attacks will not weaken the will and determination of Afghan security forces to fight against terrorism.”
This is brave talk, but it dodges the question of whether or not the “Afghan security forces” represent the people of Afghanistan or simply “the government.” If this is a fight between “terrorism” and “the government,” in neither of which is the great mass of the population particularly engaged, then what is this except a battle between forces whose credibility rests on the gun? And what the hell precisely is the dog that the United States of America has in that fight?
The “war on terror?”
What is that anymore?
We sacrificed most of whatever credibility we had as an honest broker in that place when we bailed after the Russians bailed. We sacrificed the rest of it when we briefly made the landscape bounce after 9/11 until the Avignon Presidency got down to its real business of grabbing Iraq oil. I’m not entirely sure what we’re propping up there, but it will come to no good end. Please stop killing each other.