Not another Charlie Wilson’s War

September 10, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More

I think there will never NOT be a “Taliban” or some such other indigenous, nationalist Afghan movement without an Islamic base. It is by the very nature of the diverse peoples in Afghanistan that Islam is the focus which unites all Afghans. Any nationalistic movement in Afghanistan will necessarily have an Islamic base.

It is by the very nature of the diverse peoples in Afghanistan that we cannot hope to quell all inter-tribal or inter-nationality violence in and across Afghanistan. That being said, what chance does any foreign nation have of completely stopping any Afghan insurgency which is indigenous rather than foreign in its base?

Certainly, we might see ourselves at being successful at cutting off the re-arming of Afghanistan from Pakistan if we could trust that the indigenous Afghan national and local security forces were sufficient in numbers and training to do so within some reasonable time period. We would also need the co-operation of the Pakistani authorities, which are fighting the Taliban at home. And Pakistan is now more amenable to support efforts against the Taliban and al Qaida along the joint borders between Pakistani and Afghanistan. But, there are some other borders and issues to be concerned about which will always take up the time of any national security forces, Iran (sectarian) and the North (opium trade).

It is not known how long it would take to build a national Afghan army or security force sufficient for this effort.

The Afghan people pride themselves on their ability to oust foreign occupiers. US and NATO forces are more and more being viewed as foreign occupiers, given the rising toll of civilian deaths, notwithstanding any causalities by the Taliban (the last I heard, the Taliban doesn’t have any fast-movers or aerial bombs).

The alternatives to using air superiority and bombing which would perhaps lessen Afghan civilian casualties would be an increased use of ground troops which would increase (as it already has) the numbers of US and NATO casualties and deaths. So, we face a dilemma, more Afghan deaths if we preserve our forces or more US and NATO deaths if we preserve Afghan civilians. If the Taliban increases its activity and continues to use civilians to shield itself from US and NATO forces and we attack them, there will necessarily be an increase in civilian deaths.

The apparent violations of Islamic law based upon the Quran and also the violations of international laws of the Geneva Conventions by the Taliban’s tactics could work to the advantage of the US and NATO forces if anyone cared enough to inform the Afghan people that it is a violation of Islamic and international laws for the Taliban, as the former national government of Afghanistan, to use innocent Muslim civilians as shields in war. And see here.

Mullah Omar, the Taliban spiritual leader, is not likely a popular figure in Afghanistan. If some respected Afghan clergy were to openly and continuously decry Omar’s Taliban violence against innocent Muslim civilians, it could go a long way to the foster increased recognition that the real bad guys here are the Taliban, as currently constituted under Mullah Omar.

If some in the Taliban could be persuaded thereby to split from Omar and his overly blood-thirsty zealots, that element might later find some place within a future Afghan nation.
As Omar and his ilk find themselves more isolated from the mainstream of religious thought and action among Afghani Muslims, material and moral support for the present Taliban among the indigenous Afghani people might also become more and more a thing of the past. More and more might be persuaded that their nation is one which they wish to defend from such an impious enemy.

Notwithstanding any success which such an effort might have, there is still the corruption which undermines nearly all confidence in local communities. Many police steal from the people because they are not paid or just because they can get away with stealing.

The political entity or party which delivers services and social society without corruption will govern in Afghanistan. Corruption must end. It is essential that the Afghan people have a real say in what happens to them and that they be free to take care of themselves and their families without having their hard work taken from them by the very people who are supposed to protect them. But, the recent elections are still subject to corruption challenges and the result is generally seen as unimportant to those in the outlying areas of Afghanistan where the Central government has neither provided security nor civil society.

None of this really matters if we again do what we did after we supported the Afghan people in ousting the Soviets.

If we walk away, again, without building the schools and roads, re-plantintg trees and otherwise jump-starting the Afghan economy, gotten rid of the opium and made some normalcy and security in the day-to-day lives of Afghanistan’s people, the Taliban or some other radical indigenous, nationalist Islamic movement will take over, again. Afghanistan may yet again be a platform for the launching of terror attacks against the US, to the waste of everything we have done since we invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

It has been a failure of leadership that we have the current situation in Afghanistan. Primarily, there has been a failure by the Bush administration and its pro-Iraq war elements. Bush allowed the Taliban to re-form and it now has control over some 30% of Afghanistan, mostly in the South. US and NATO forces now need to route out entrenched elements of the Taliban in an area completely unfamiliar to them and from where the Taliban gets most of their money from the sale of opium. The policies of the Bush administration made the entry by the Taliban into the Southern provinces easy because we weren’t there to stop them, and we didn’t do anything about the drug factories there (and elsewhere) that the Taliban and al Qaida still have there to finance their efforts.

There has been a failure in Afghanistan by our military in its willingness to go along willy-nilly with the other-world neocon stupidities of the Bush administration. There have been too few resignations from the military for it not to be considered as a central focus in the failures of leadership which have left us the mess we have in Afghanistan.

Yes, it’s the job of the military to execute the directives of the civilian leadership but, certainly not to abandon all to such leadership where that civilian leadership is neither responsible in its use of force nor held accountable by the military leadership for the mis-use of our forces, resulting in depleted forces and morale and the diminished capacity of those forces to complete their missions. President Obama will have to fix the problems in our military and in Afghanistan, or he will be known as the last of our failed leaders on what do we do with Afghanistan.

For now, we need to support Afghanistan. It may well be that the government is flawed. We have squandered lives and treasure with our past policies though, and we need to do the things necessary to get out and leave the opportunity for Afghanistan to stand on its own, as free as its own people wish it to be.

I pray that the last eight years in Afghanistan are not just another “Charlie Wilson’s War.”


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Category: The Middle East, War

About the Author ()

imothy E. Hogan is a trial attorney, a husband, a father of two awesome children and a practicing Roman Catholic in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Hogan has done legal and political work in Jefferson City, Missouri for partisan and non-partisan social change, environmental and consumer protection groups. Mr. Hogan has also worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington, DC and the members of the trial bar in the State of New York. Mr. Hogan’s current interests involve remaining a full time solo practitioner pioneer on the frontiers of justice in America, a good husband and a good father to his awesome children.

Comments (4)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    See the current US military assessment of what we must do to avoid defeat in Afghanistan, which in much mirrors my assessments.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Charlie Wilson, 2009:

    Wilson also said that the current war was "a very tough situation," and that if he were President Obama, he's not sure what he would do. He did say: "I'd probably shut it down, rather than lose a lot of soldiers and treasure."

    Read more at:

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    Erich, we went into Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban and al Qaida in short order.

    We were greeted as liberators.

    We left our enemies alone for the next eight years and need to do the right thing to put straight our commitments to ourselves and the Afghan people. The Taliban which harbored al Qaida which attacked us must be prevented from rising agin.

    Perhaps we may yet again be seen as liberators, not occupiers and regain the trust of the general populace in Afghanistan.

    My biggest concern is over the corruption. I do not generally favor conflict. But, I am sure that we best not again be said to have "f-d up the endgame."

  4. Tim Hogan says:

    Someone listened. The UN is now reporting that the taliban is responsible for most civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

    The next step is for the Muslim clergy to step forth and condemn the continued illegal and impious killing of innocents by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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