“People were very happy seeing this” was the quote in the New York Times report about a couple being stoned to death after they tried to marry without permission. About 200 villagers took part in the stoning in the Kunduz Province of Afghanistan, including the man’s brother as well as other relatives. It was a festive occasion, and the crowd cheered as the unfortunate couple expired. Nice, as they say in Brooklyn, a New York province. In Badghis Province, Northern Afghanistan, the festivities continued when a 48-year-old widow, made pregnant by a man who had promised to marry her, was given 200 lashes and then shot to death. Her crime: fornication. Again, very nice. Finally, two brides, 13 and 14 years old, were also flogged within an inch of their lives for trying to flee their husbands. This took place in Ghor Province, which I assume is a more liberal one, although no one can attest for certain whether it was named for an American vice president or one of our greatest living writers.
Never mind. The point is that Afghanistan was, is, and always will be a mess, a savage antediluvian society not fit for the shed blood of American soldiers. The reality is that we took sides in a complex civil war that has been running since the 1970’s, siding with the north against the south, town against country, secularism against Islam. It is as simple as that, and let no Washington con man tell you any different. We installed a government corrupt as any in history, one that has discriminated against the Pashtun majority, and we have refused to accept the facts on the ground: that the Taliban are the authentic voice of rural Pashtun conservatism, and that the Kabul government has excluded them. The only solution is to negotiate with the Taliban and get out. Anything else is bound to end in disaster.
Instead, we are proceeding with a plan to equip an army of 500,000 Afghans at a cost of two billion dollars per annum, an army that will break and run faster than any South Vietnamese unit did back in April 1975, or better yet, the courageous Kuwaiti defenders back in 1990 against Saddam’s tanks. This is a very bad joke, but no one in D.C. seems to be getting it. This shadow Afghan army/police actually performs double duty: It works by day for the Kabul government and by night for the Taliban. The officer corps makes the South Vietnamese one look like West Point graduates.
Looking back makes the tragedy of Iraq seem a lesser one, if that is possible. We stormed Afghanistan nine years ago to root out Al Qaeda. The fragile society we were supposed to be fighting for was always nonexistent. We chased out the bad guys—those who don’t want girls to go to school, those who don’t like music or beauty or pleasure—who fled to the lawless regions of Pakistan. Then we installed a clown-crook by the name of Karzai and turned our attention to Iraq—Eiraq, as our great leader Bush put it. The trouble is the bad guys came back with a vengeance—if they had ever left, that is. Their invisible army is undefeated because you can’t kill what you can’t see, although we have killed plenty of innocents, minding their own business, with our drones.
And there’s something else—an historical fact that our leaders tend to overlook most of the time. Afghan warriors have clobbered every foreign invader since the great Alexander, and he lived 2,300 years ago. The Afghans know how to fight foreigners and how to deal drugs. Hamid Karzai, whose brother makes Escobar look like a penny-ante pot dealer in Times Square, pardons drug dealers the moment our forces capture them. In the meantime we are told that our presence there is to maintain security only for as long as it takes the Afghan army/police to be ready to take over the job themselves. It’s the biggest con since the invention of three-card monte, yet our politicians continue to send American men to die there. I know that the Army’s task is to do and die and not to ask the reason why, but this is a crime of immense proportions.
In theory, Afghan soldiers are recruited from all over the country. In reality, the majority is from the north, Tajiks and Uzbeks. At least one quarter deserts every year. They listen to their own warlords, not to any NATO commanders. Most recruits are the dregs of local societies, all of them illiterate, undisciplined, and spaced out on drugs. These are our allies. We already know all about our enemies.
So please keep this page, and the next time some slick politician begins to tell you how we are making progress in Afghanistan, show it to him, then shove it down his throat. You’ll be scoring a point for truth.