Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The question of Afghanistan becomes more urgent

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  • Richard Aston,

    Mon 13/8 , Maori TV Native Matters , they had Winston, Greens, Hone, Labour and Maori parties all agreeing it was time to get NZ out of Afghanistan like now.
    At 34:20 in the video .
    The whole piece was good to see the level of agreement ( and debate) amoung these parties . The Nats did a no show .

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 507 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Bamiyan, an area supposedly controlled

    I think the insurgent groups have an ability to throttle the amount of trouble in any area, including allegedly 'peaceable' ones, as they wish. If things get hot for them, they can hide their weapons and melt back into being farmers. When they need to, they go back on the attack.

    The British got nowhere in Afghanistan in the 19th century. The Russians got nowhere in the late 20th (maybe if it had been Stalin rather than Brezhnev, they might have done, and we'd have a pacified, relatively liberal state inhabited almost entirely by Russians). I don't think (total genocide being no longer acceptable) that the US and its allies are going to get any further - we'll be heading home in a couple of years, so why not do it now?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4484 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Aston,

    all agreeing it was time to get NZ out of Afghanistan like now

    Surpising unanimity really - and they all seemed to have a good grasp of the topic too. Native Affairs does a cracking job for all of us.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    @Rich. They're not insurgents, they're the resistance. We (as servants of the US) are the occupation, the government there are our puppet quislings flown in from the US and Britain, former employees of large oil companies, and the locals are resisting our continued presence with the standard guerrilla warfare tactics of the overpowered.

    They don't melt back into being farmers, they are farmers. We're killing farmers, because they make up the resistance. This last lot weren't attacking anyone, they were defending themselves from some brown-shirt extra-judicial executions that we happened to be protecting at a distance.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to tussock,

    They don’t melt back into being farmers, they are farmers. We’re killing farmers, because they make up the resistance.

    If you're talking about the Taliban (who are a diverse group, granted) it's much more accurate to call them students than farmers. They partially fund themselves by "taxing" poor farmers. Most of the 46 people killed by suicide bombers last night were ordinary people out shopping for their Eid celebrations.

    The majority of the 3000-odd Afghan civilians killed violently last year died at the hands of your "resistance". Jon Stephenson told me that the locals in Bamiyan are so desperate for protection that they were prepared to fake an attack to try and get some more cover. Cover that our troops can't begin to provide.

    The actual government under Karzai is hardly any better, of course. It's deeply corrupt and has further eroded the credibility of the occupation. But it's delusional to imagine that the Taliban are some high-minded freedom fighters. Their record in power was truly hideous.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to tussock,

    + 1

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Their record in power was truly hideous.

    Quite, and their time in power is often poorly understood. For a long time they clearly had broad popular support, even for their most heinous actions. Of course if you openly didn't support you were marked.

    We look at something like the demolition of the statues of Bamiyan as a bizarre devoutly religious act - mostly inexplicable in so many ways to us - but internal political posturing played a bigger part in the final act.

    The "Taliban" is a far more complex entity than our media finds easier to portray, just as the 'insurgency' was in Iraq. It may have been a single headed beast led by Omar (although even he was vulnerable) but it was a mess of jockeying as it went down the hierarchy, accentuated now by a decade plus of new blood from the schools in Pakistan and the ongoing wars there.

    I suspect the Taliban in 2012 is quite a different beast to the grouping that took Kabul in the 1990s.

    And the fact is we (as in the the western alliance we are desperate to be part of) supported one grouping of ruthless, bloody bastards over another . How the awful Northern Alliance became the good guys in 2001 is really only understandable in the context of the way the USA has always been able to anoint one set of gruesome thugs "good" subject to their need and whim.

    Those divisions haven't gone away.

    Jason Burke's 9/11 Wars is a pretty decent - and widely praised - overview if anyone has the inclination.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3209 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    maybe if it had been Stalin rather than Brezhnev, they might have done, and we'd have a pacified, relatively liberal state inhabited almost entirely by Russians

    Umm... like the other 'stans or the Caucasus? Places where Stalin did get up to all sorts of shenanigans like deporting the entire population of Chechnya and creatively redrawing borders to suit his purposes, but certainly not regarded by many as liberal, even relatively, and all with trouble simmering away beneath very thin veneers of pacification.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2169 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Jason Burke’s 9/11 Wars

    That looks very good

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1237 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The actual government under Karzai is hardly any better, of course. It's deeply corrupt and has further eroded the credibility of the occupation. But it's delusional to imagine that the Taliban are some high-minded freedom fighters. Their record in power was truly hideous.

    It seems to be a plague on all houses. Even more so when genuine peacemakers like Abdul Haq met untimely ends.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4403 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Twenty-odd civilians killed in bombings of a mosque and a city market overnight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • David Chittenden,

    Changing topic to Paul Ryan's selection for the Media3 show ...

    The US election rhetoric is unbelievably tribal and mainly full of loud shouting.

    Here are some facts* on Paul Ryan and women.

    And the media coverage is usually very biased. Here's a rare case of a reporter actually knowing her stuff and calling the Republican for the liar he is

    *I haven't checked them but there is a web link ...

    Since May 2011 • 31 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to andin,

    America's Secret War by George Friedman is also a good source.
    I heard him speak at a readers and writers event. He basically says the US created the Taliban to fight the Russians , to the extent of equipping them with the full CIA manuals and a lot of hard cash. Later their inside knowledge of US military and CIA methods gave them the edged in fighting the US later . Shit those yanks are so dumb.
    I can lend anyone a copy if they are interested.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 507 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Russell Brown,

    +1 to Russell , yes there may have been some farmers in the "resistance" but it's far more complex than the Tangata Whenua wanting their land back .

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 507 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Richard Aston,

    He basically says the US created the Taliban to fight the Russians , to the extent of equipping them with the full CIA manuals and a lot of hard cash.

    But...

    the author revealed that the US in fact did not directly fund or create the Taliban. CIA funds went directly to the ISI the Pakistani security forces, who funneled the funds to the Taliban.

    J. Kalomiris, reviewing 9/11 Wars.

    The role of Pakistan has to be seen in context, an artificial state formed by the British over 50 years ago, it begs the question as to why the colonial yoke has not been cast aside. Is it for exactly this kind of underhand activity that the state still exists as seemingly independent from the pan Arab region desired by the fundamentalists but at the same time being accused of supporting such a State by the west? The reasons are far too complex to really touch upon here but the Wild West of Pakistan is an area of mixed loyalties and entrenched positions.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Richard & Steve,

    That is an American-centric book and American-centric review, when America is not central to the political culture of the region. The Western conceit is that it and it alone bestrides the world causing things to happen - playing to that sells books. But America merely got involved and then went away, came back and will go away again. West wasn't relevent between the end of the Cold War and 2001. And after it leaves it will cease to be relevent.

    American funds against the Soviets were matched dollar for dollar by Saudi Arabia. When the Mujahideen had won the Americans stopped, but the Sauds continued funding the ISI. The Sauds continued funding Pakistan right on through when sanctions were imposed for Pakistan developing nuclear weapons. They continued up until 9/11, after which the Americans (and us) became involved again. The Sauds still continue funding today, albeit with more constraints on the severity of the religious teachings they favour. And they will continue to fund the region after we leave.

    Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist religious society. It chooses to impose its cultural imprint on Pakistan/Afghanistan region. Pakistan/Afghanistan has become increasingly religious. Simple.

    Tussock is right, we fund and support a corrupt government that is known to conduct extra-judicial killings against its own people. Hell, the Americans even cut out the middle man and conduct extra-judicial assasinations with drones. We are facilitating the killing of farmers to support a corrupt autocracy.

    Russell is right, the Taliban (or whatever we wish to call the religious zealots) who will take over should we leave will be corrupt and carry out killings*. The Taliban kill innocent locals in pursuit of driving us out.

    Either we leave and accept that religious zealots will take over. Or we stay as long as neccessary - estimates say Saudi Arabia might run out of oil in 2070. Or we try somethingelse.


    * these killings will be sanctioned by religious law, not extra-judcial.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Either we leave and accept that religious zealots will take over. Or we stay as long as neccessary – estimates say Saudi Arabia might run out of oil in 2070. Or we try somethingelse.

    If there were ever any "good" options, there certainly aren't now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to tussock,

    They’re not insurgents, they’re the resistance.

    This is just as much of a simplification as the opposing view.

    Afganistan is not and never has been one unified country. The people in each region view themselves as distinct from people in other region. It is not simply a religious distinction, it is not simply a physical distinction, it is not simply a cultural distinction, it is not simply a historical distinction. Instead it is all of the above in varying amounts plus extras for added confusion.

    Sending kiwis in with guns, just adds targets and confusion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3444 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Either we leave and accept that religious zealots will take over. Or we stay as long as neccessary – estimates say Saudi Arabia might run out of oil in 2070.

    With Saudi oil revenues approaching 1 billion a day the oil may run out but the cash will remain for some time. Saudi Arabia is seeing some reform in terms of liberalisation, voting rights for women being the most noticeable, albeit almost microscopic. We can but hope that, in time, a softening of attitudes in the middle east will ease the situation. This does not detract from the fundamental cause of conflict in that part of the world being the US greed for the worlds oil. Solve that one and the problem may well disappear.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist religious society. It chooses to impose its cultural imprint on Pakistan/Afghanistan region. Pakistan/Afghanistan has become increasingly religious. Simple.

    It's a little more complex than that. The increasingly educated and wealthy Pakistani middle class - with years of westernised secular schooling - has also become radically conservative and religious, confounding predictions that the nation would centralise like, say, Indonesia is slowly doing despite huge Saudi cash flowing into the Madrases there in the same way.

    The US's drone wars have played a huge part in that (the resentment is massive) and at that level at least, it's perhaps less to do with Saudi Arabia, whose funding has been targeted at the lower socio-economic classes.

    What it has done is force the Pakistani centre further and further to the religious right and provided the Taliban with a funding base they didn't have a decade back.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3209 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Afganistan is not and never has been one unified country.

    Indeed, and the bloodiest part of recent history was not the Russian or the US invasions but the civil wars of the 1970s.

    I suspect the aftermath of the withdrawal will look much the same.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3209 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    But...

    the author revealed that the US in fact did not directly fund or create the Taliban. CIA funds went directly to the ISI the Pakistani security forces, who funneled the funds to the Taliban.

    J. Kalomiris, reviewing 9/11 Wars.

    I don't know who is right here but George Friedman definitely said CIA agents were flown into Taliban areas carrying cases full of US dollars , trying to buy local loyalties.
    And yes his view is very American centric.
    His take on the US/Saudi power struggle was interesting if a little paranoid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 507 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    A number of the conversations I've had with Jon Stephenson about Afghanistan could be summarised as "it's complicated".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19019 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    The doco 'restrepo' is well worth a look for a bit of insight into the fucked-up-ness of the afghanistan war and the fuzziness of who the resistance/insurgents and taleban might be.

    One thing that struck me was the bizarreness of how the fairly minimally equipped, outgunned and technologically primitive insurgents could hold the might of the US at bay not just for weeks or months, but years. E.g. The americans had helicopter gunships and the insurgents had rifles and radios.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to dc_red,

    the bizarreness of how the fairly minimally equipped, outgunned and technologically primitive insurgents could hold the might of the US at bay

    They did the same to the Russians and the same to the British and the same to each other.

    The key to understanding how that is possible comes from looking at a topographical map. The terrain is impossible. That's one of the things that divides the country into so many segments.

    It's the reason historically armies stopped before incorporating Afganistan into whatever empire they happened to be forming at the time. Army rides up looks at the mountains and says "yeah, nah".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3444 posts Report Reply

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