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A Taliban suicide-bomber today made a token attempt to blow-up the US VP Dick Cheney whilst he was at Bagram Air Base.
So much for the "nation-building"...we should all get the hell out of there and let them blow each other up.
OK, maybe torch the poppy fields first...
But that's just my opinion.
Afghanistan is the one place that nation-building really has to succeed. The Taliban plunged a strategically important country back into the Middle Ages and bailing out of Afghanistan would let the Taliban back in. The one good thing to have come out of the post-9/11 gung-ho geopolitics is the ousting of the Taliban.
If you "torch the poppy fields.." you will alienate even more people and the Taliban will have even more support and possibly more recruits.
An idea would be for the Western countries to buy the poppy crops to use in medicine and so give these poor people a chance to earn a living legitimately.
If it's as strategically important as Kate implies and I've no reason to doubt it, you would think more countries would show the necessary committment needed to restore order.
Actually, I wonder if it is as strategically important as it used to be - it's always been a buffer zone between Russian/Soviet ambitions and the west and very much part of the Great Game, but the tensions are elsewhere these days. Having said that (I'm sort of thinking aloud here) it's also an important zone in the emerging tensions between parts of the Muslim world and the nominally Christian west.
It's also potentially a far from impoverished nation - "According to the US Geological Survey and the Afghan Ministry of Mines and Industry, Afghanistan may be possessing up to 36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 3.6 billion barrels of petroleum and up to 1,325 million barrels of natural gas liquids. Other reports suggest that the country has huge amounts of gold, copper, coal, iron ore and other rich minerals"[source Wikipedia - not the most reliable,I know]- coincidence?
History shows that Afghanistan can always be invaded and taken but can never be held - the British took it 3 times in the 19th/20th centuries and each time gave it up as a bad job; the Soviets tried for 10 years before finally pulling out the troops.
I seriously doubt that the present occupation will fare any better, when the body bag count gets unsustainable the West will pull the plug.
I believe that trying to impose a western model of democracy on certain countries where ethnic and religious loyalties are paramount and borders are arbitrary lines historically drawn on the map irrespective of these considerations is a pointless exercise. In such societies 'might is right'and any democratic facade will be swept away as soon as the invading powers pull out. It'll happen in Iraq and Afghanistan and the West will have to live with it.
Kate B the Taliban are still have a strong foothold in the country, and may i say very strong backing from most of the population. How can we expect to win over hearts and minds and change culture in a country we spend most of the 90's bombing? The same goes for Iraq, Mr BLair and Bush are either complete ideots or so blind to see. Figures show that during bombing raids US and UK bombs hit 50:50 against Talaban and cizilian targets? How can we serioulsy justify this? And then to mnake matters worse we leave a skelaton army there to "spread democracy in Iraq"? Monkeys are in parliment help us all.
Yes, the Taliban is indeed still very much a presence in Afghanistan - by ousted I meant no longer in government.
I'm in favour of pulling out of Iraq sooner rather than later but I do think that the west needs to stick with Afghanistan. Iraq I hope will pull itself out of chaos - though it will need help - but it is capable of doing so and of forming a government. Abandon Afghanistan and the Taliban will be back in.
In spite of the General's view that the Afghan war is winnable I don't think it is, or at least not to the extent that the west can withdraw and leave a functioning Government with normal policing.
Afghanistan is another theatre for the phony war of east and west, and it matters just as much or more to the supporters of the Taliban that they never give in. After all it's being played out in their neck of the woods not ours.
To me it's just another example of overwhelming power succeeding in the initial battle but failing to win the war. The style of battle which is essentially pockets of resistance coming and going make it impossible to win by conventional warfare.
A negotiated settlement is similarly a distant hope, there are few common values to agree upon, it will be a long haul.
It might be worth pointing out that 300,000 Russian troops were there for 10 years and did not do terribly well, some would say that they got their backsides kicked. Contrary to the popular press they were not badly trained and their equipment was comparable and in the case of the AK-47 and AKS, better than the old tat given to British soldiers. The Brit troops will be fighting people who piggin' hate them, are prepared to sacrifice their lives willingly, know the land like the back of their hands and are well trained (10 yrs against the Russians) guerrilla fighters.
There will be 7500 British troops in Afghanistan...anyone care to guess the outcome.
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