Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Underlying Pointlessness of the Afghanistan War

Close on the heels of Wikileaks' disclosure of thousands of classified US and NATO intelligence papers, which document clandestine Pakistani support for the Taliban (already an open secret in Washington), a new poll of Pakistanis finds - surprise, surprise - that a solid majority view the United States as an enemy.

Despite billions in aid from Washington and a shared threat from extremists, Pakistanis have an overwhelmingly negative view of the United States, according to results of a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday.

The survey also found that Pakistanis have grown less fearful of extremists seizing control of their country, perhaps reflecting gains that government troops have made against militants since early 2009.

Most Pakistanis want improved relations with the United States, according to the poll. But most view the U.S. with suspicion, support for American involvement in the fight against extremists has declined, and nearly two-thirds want U.S. troops out of neighboring Afghanistan.

Nearly six in 10 Pakistanis polled described the U.S. as an enemy and only one in 10 called it a partner

Well, that was taxpayer money well spent! More American money, prestige and blood spent chasing the neo-conservative pipedream of Islamic democracy.

The poll underscores the impossibility of the American position in Afghanistan. The Taliban cannot be crushed unless their safeholds in Pakistan can be cleansed. But any serious attempt to do that would likely topple the Pakistani government, significant factions of which fully support the Taliban. The collapse of the Pakistani government would thrust the entire region into chaos, a huge danger given Pakistan's posession of nuclear weapons. Thus the US is condemned to continue fighting a unwinnable war to prop of Karzai's farcical democratic government (which barely controls the capital), while the Taliban continually refreshes itself with fanatics and money drawn from Pakistan.

Welcome to the wonderful world of "nation-building," a delusion in which uncounted billions of American dollars (almost all of it borrowed on Asian credit) and hundreds of young American lives are squandered in a quixotic attempt to transform distant Islamic realms into swarthier versions of Minneapolis. This effort, pushed by neoconservatives under Bush (in defiance of history), now continues, inexplicably, under Obama, whose fecklessness and incompetence appear to be on par with that of his predecessor.

The truly sad part of the story is that the war in Afghanistan was once won. By early 2002, the US had crushed the Taliban, killed most of its leadership and driven it from power. The Taliban was discredited and disgraced. That was the time to end the war and leave - victorious. But, no. As with Iraq, the US had to stay - had to transform the 12th century Pashtun tribesmen into modern Jeffersonian democrats. And why not? In the neoconservative view of the world, all peoples are interchangeable. Racial differences don't exist; cultural and religious differences are minor quibbles that can be glossed over with simply by bestowing the magical gift of democracy. Hold an election, point those purple-stained fingers in the air, and the hostility of Islam will be vitiated. Democracy cures all.

Unfortunately, all peoples are not interchangeable, not equal in abilities and potential, and cultural and religious differences are far often as intractable as basic human stupidty. No amount of nation-building can change that. Nor can it change Pashtun tribesmen into cosmopolitan latte-drinkers. The neoconservative theory has been proven wrong. Witness Turkey, whose democratic goverment grows more Islamist with each election.

Pakistan is a bubbling caldron of Islamic fundamentalism and hatred, largely directed at the West. Virtually every Islamic terror attack in Europe has a Pakistani connection. It is a testament to the suicidal nature of Western liberalism that European nations have failed to sever all travel to and from Pakistan (not to mention immigration!).

The US would be best served by extricating itself from Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The US no longer has the financial resources to wage wars to make the world safe for democracy, especially among people who don't want it (or who will elect the people who want to kill us as soon as our backs are turned). Every cent, every life squandered in the mountains of Afghanistan since 2002 has been wasted. George Bush and Barack Obama are both responsible. As are the neoconservatives who pushed the nation building nonsense on gullible American politicians.

The US, and Europe, would also do well to simply declare Pakistan toxic and forbid any further travel to and immigration from Pakistan. This would be the cheapest and most effective way to prevent new terrorist attacks in the West.

But, not to worry, that won't happen. Even after the next successful attack is traced back to Pakistani militants.