Saturday, September 11, 2004

Cole on Afghanistan

I really like Juan Cole's weblog, but here's a sentence from a recent posting that had me shaking my head at the opinions of 'experts':

"The US cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground."

There is simply not one letter in this sentence that is even close to correct. The Taliban hasn't been defeated, but is in control of much of the same lands it was in control of on September 10, 2001. The Northern Alliance is an 'ally' of the United States? I guess it depends what you mean by 'ally'. If an American soldier ventured to walk on most of the territory controlled by the Northern Alliance, he would be shot on sight. The grim reality is that the United States and its stooge Karzai have control of downtown Kabul and a few outposts, but the rest of the country is controlled by most of the same characters who controlled it before the American invasion. The only difference is that slightly more of it is controlled by opium-producing warlords than was under the relative sanity of Taliban rule. And just how did the US cleverly outfox al-Qaeda? Bin Laden fervently desired that the US would attack him in Afghanistan, and he got his wish. Al-Qaeda is as a result more powerful than ever. Attacking Afghanistan, a country whose nationals almost certainly had nothing to do with September 11, in order to punish a group of nomadic terrorists who were not even welcome guests of the Taliban, and who almost all escaped, is one of the single stupidest things the United States has ever done.