Thursday, December 16, 2010

Obama's Speech on Afghan Situation

Obama has given a speech on the state of the situation in Afghanistan. From it, I quote the following:
It's important to remember why we remain in Afghanistan. It was Afghanistan where al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks that murdered 3,000 innocent people. It is the tribal regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border from which terrorists have launched more attacks against our homeland and our allies. And if an even wider insurgency were to engulf Afghanistan, that would give al Qaeda even more space to plan these attacks.

And that's why, from the start, I've been very clear about our core goal. It's not to defeat every last threat to the security of Afghanistan, because, ultimately, it is Afghans who must secure their country. And it's not nation-building, because it is Afghans who must build their nation. Rather, we are focused on disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

This sounds like an ill-conceived strategy for never-ending fighting there. Since AlQaeda cannot be driven out from Afghanistan while that country remains in chaos without effective government, then the US will be stuck in never-ending skirmishing with AlQaeda and its local jihadi allies, the Taliban. Meanwhile Pak will sit back and keep watching the US aid money rolling in, becoming ever more stubborn and uncooperative while lining their pockets.

Rather than playing a never ending "disrupting" game of hide-and-seek with AlQaeda and its local jihadi affiliates, the US should instead focus on "draining the swamp". And that then brings us to the real solution to this seemingly intractable problem - changing the borders of that chaotic area. Only re-drawing the borders of that place will heal it, because the chaos of that place dates back to the time of British colonial wars of conquest against that region. Britain attempted to conquer the Pathans, and it wasn't very successful, even though it then claimed that the Pathans had been made part of British India. Pakistan then later claimed to have inherited those Pathan lands from British India's partition, and obviously their claim is just as hollow as Britain's was.

When Jinnah sent the Pathans to attack Kashmir in 1948, it was precisely because of his fears that the restive Pathans would follow the Kashmiris' example in also opting out of Pakistan. He was simply attempting to deflect Pathan nationalism and restiveness against the convenient "evil Hindoo Indian" bogeyman, in order to avoid having to deal with Pathan nationalism himself. The Pathan issue is thus the real root cause of the Kashmir dispute.

Likewise, when the Afghan War against the Soviet Union resulted in increased militarization and gun culture among the Pathans, the Pakistani leadership again sought out a new stunt of creating Taliban to invade Afghanistan. They didn't need to invoke an Indian bogeyman to start that misadventure, because they were eagerly proclaiming their desire to re-create a "Silk Road" into Central Asia. But since non-Pathans of northern Afghanistan were not going to be rolled over so easily, Pakistan kept injecting the Taliban with more toxic Islamist 'steroids' to increase their aggressiveness. This made conditions ripe for AlQaeda to thrive, and led to their infamous attacks on the US on 9/11. Now Pakistan is stuck riding out this latest cycle of misadventure, in its never-ending attempt to hang onto the Pathans. The Pathan issue is thus the real cause of the USA's fruitless War on Terror.

Hanging onto the Pathans is only fueling Pakistan's stuntsmanship, as it lurches from one crazy stunt to the next for an ultimately futile goal. Instead of prolonging the misery and chaos of that region, the US needs to simply restore the borders back to their rightful state, so that order can again prevail, and AlQaeda can be purged from its safe havens in the area. Separating the Pathans and the Baloch from the Punjabi grip, and allowing the Pathans to reunify across both sides of the artificial Durand Line, and likewise allowing the Tajiks and Uzbeks of Afghanistan to reunify with their respective motherlands of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will bring a wave of peace across that region - a peace that was taken away by the British and their Great Game so long ago.

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