Friday, May 18, 2007

Pakistan Border - Everyone's Problem

Finding alternative sources of information on the war is critical. We have to invest our time to "go beyond the headlines of FOX and CNN.
Radio Free Europe – Radio Liberty – is a U.S. government-run service based in Prague. Their Afghanistan reporter, Ron Synovitz, used to cover our command in Afghanistan and continues to take his reporting to heights well-above the standard spin/slant/propaganda that is often heard on similar radio services.
He has an interesting interview with Amin Tarzi – an analyst with some good info on the recent border clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This area is likely the nexus of the war on terror – should we ever get back to actually hunting terrorists rather than filling executives wallets in war-profiteering corporate America. The border region is where the Taliban and al-Qaeda have their safe haven. We lost a U.S. soldier there last week, when he was returning from negotiations on the Pakistan side.


Sadly, the argument between Afghanistan and Pakistan along their border goes back to the establishment of the Durand Line – a dotted line drawn on a British map, so very long ago. This is our inherited problem from a previous empire that did not settle its own affairs. Remember, the British fought three wars in Afghanistan – losing terribly each time.
So what are our chances for success?
- Build schools to villagers, but the Taliban target them.
- Support Hamid Karzai – our puppet, who is losing support among the people. Raid villages while hunting Taliban, alienate the population with our tactics.
- Don’t staff or fund the fight in Afghanistan, because we are tied up and losing in Iraq. (We barely have enough helicopters in the Stan to supply the troops in remote locations)
- Support ideas of freedom, democracy and rights for people – our own values and principles. Then break those values time and again in very public ways, such as the killings and torture of prisoners. The Afghan people see that we often don’t practice what we preach. And what I know of Afghans, they are simple people, logic is basic. With them, trust must be earned and can be easily lost.

Any success we gain from this adventure will come from the efforts of young men of working class backgrounds – the boys who joined the Army for college money and a better life themselves. It’s the 19-year-old private who offers a “high-five” to a smiling Afghan kid – who may grow to become a future Afghan president or become a anti-Western insurgent – that will make the difference.

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