Once Barack Obama decides to try a greater military approach to Afghanistan, his presidency is finished. The time to strike and finish the war in Afghanistan was 2002-2003. Obama does not know this.

Instead, as we know, Bush invaded Iraq. Bush and his allies (mainly the UK, Canada and France, since Germany played it safer) opted to NOT develop the Afghan army. The Afghan army is about a tenth of the Iraqi army (and less well trained). The Western allies under Bush leadership had decided Afghans could not be trusted. So no army for Afghanistan, the Allies decided to do it all, and that meant mostly aerial bombing. Thus now there is no Afghan army although the country is larger than Iraq in population and area, and hundreds of times more mountainous (both in height and extent). Afghanistan together with Pakistan, have more than 200 million people, millions of them potential young fanatics.

The aerial bombing campaign has set up new standards of propaganda for the Taliban. Bush did all this, because his aim (or that of his brain trust) was obviously to spread war, not necessarily to win any. It is a mess they were after. They got it. It is now a secret Neoconservative asset.

The guerilla has a sanctuary in Pakistan. Attacking Pakistan significantly is not an option (whatever Mr. Obama said). The situation has changed, on the ground and in Pakistani politics: Pakistan is nominally a democracy now. To deal with Pakistan, one has to use the Pakistani army. Attacking a democracy (even in an Islamic republic) which is nominally an ally, is not an option (especially considering it has thermonuclear weapons, and a Machiavellian intelligence service familiar with the American methods, the ISI).

The Bush administration has set up a trap, and Mr. Obama seems ready to fall into it. Mr. Obama’s slowness to express outrage at the massacre of civilians in Gaza has already allowed Al Qaeda to identify him with Bush. Doubling the US armed forces in Afghanistan (this seems to be the plan, at this point) and threatening to attack Pakistan would allow Al Qaeda to brand him as worse than Bush.

So the last thing to do is for the USA to escalate militarily. One needs to escalate diplomatically, and that means talking directly to Pakistani leaders, and Pakistani intelligence operatives, and reasonable Afghan guerilla leaders. The obvious trade to propose to the guerilla in the South is to LEGALIZE THE POPPY TRADE (only a fraction of the world uses medicinal opiates, there is a pent-up demand, so Afghanistan should be proposed to join the likes of Turkey and France in legal opiate production). Landlocked Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries, opiates would boost it out of its dismal economic state. It is an offer tribal leaders cannot refuse. Then why not let little girls go to school? Is it not what Muhammad would have done?

The definition of reasonable here is dynamical: one talks with an open mind until one can find a way to persuade enough tribal leaders to switch to the Western side.

Barack Obama does not know his presidency will crash and burn in Afghanistan if he does not think quickly out of that box, or more exactly, that coffin. It is Bush’s secret little trick, his poisoned gift. Sending 30,000 soldiers right away in Afghanistan is the first step into that infernal machine. What the Neoconservative republicans did was to set up Afghanistan as their long term insurance: they knew that democrats would try to win it, like Johnson did with Vietnam, to show they have what it takes, and they are not soft on defense. Well, they don’t. Nobody has what it takes. The war in Afghanistan CANNOT be won. It’s way too late for that. It is time to negotiate seriously.

Patrice Ayme.

P/S 1: Bob Herbert published a thoroughly excellent analysis “The Afghan Quagmire” in the New York Times, Tuesday, January 5, 2009. ( The present essay is in complement (and a version of it was published by the NYT on 01/05/09).

P/S 2: Afghanistan was successfully conquered by Alexander “the Great”, and 16 centuries later, the Mongols. Other invasions, and there were many, failed. In both cases, the entire army was thrown onto the country. In their times, the Macedonian and Mongols were armies no one in the world. So, if Obama wants to win in Afghanistan, he would have to thrown in the entire US army (a bit more than half a million, roughly the size of the Iraqi army). But that of course will not work. For example the Nazis could not control the French resistance at the end of their occupation (1944), in spite of occupying the country with 300,000 German soldiers (plus dozens of thousands of Vichy fascists and hundreds of thousands of theoretically collaborating French police). France is nowhere as mountainous as Afghanistan, and the French knew well that the Ally armies (US, British, Canadian, French, Commonwealth, Soviet) were probably going to win, even if they did nothing about it. Nevertheless, the French resistance inflicted such huge losses on elite Nazi formations that they engaged in holocausts of entire villages, in a (failed) attempt to rush to Normandy. Something similar, just worse for all concerned happened in Yugoslavia (the Nazis could never control that mountainous country, however much atrocity they deployed).

P/S 3: War from the air is an atrocity. Casual French military reports, east of Kabul, have shown that it is the local villagers that do the resisting. French officers, with a very revealing backwards logic claimed that the very fact that only women and children died in villages when the Western allies bombed, proved, by itself, that the men were resisting out there, since they were not caught by the bombs. I wonder if that makes the women and children guilty as charged. War from the air is the US method, by the way, the French are just amateurs in that art (launched at Guernica, and celebrated by Picasso).

P/S 4: The 30,000 new US soldiers the Pentagon wants to send to Afghanistan are to be deployed south of Kabul (the French are east on the crucial Khyber pass road). This, per se, shows how much out of control the war has got: the Western Allies have to protect the capital desperately, and that is reminiscent of desperately protecting Saigon during the last stages of the Vietnam war.

P/S 5: After more than seven years of dealing with Afghanistan as if it were their own private hunting preserve, to shoot and bomb Afghans from the sky, the Western Allies have reduced moral standing. Canada’s right wing government, just reelected, made the campaign promise to withdraw militarily by 2011. The Canadians have had the largest relative losses (more than 100 dead). Once they get out, expect the Europeans to follow shortly, leaving President Obama all alone, with his hope and his audacity, facing jihad for no good reason. That also means that the USA will then have to double its force: the Europeans represent presently half of the Western force in Afghanistan, and European public opinion is getting upset with playing increasingly bad guy out there.

P/S 6: Some may wonder how consistent the preceding is with the author’s strong disagreements with the Qur’an on many points. Well, there is no contradiction, and it is not subtle. The West should behave as the senior mental and moral partner. But that it has not done so for several years, in several important ways. Mass murdering people in the light of this is not excusable, and strategically promised to an ominous fate.

Tags: ,

2 Responses to “AFGHANISTAN: NO, YOU CAN’T.”

  1. Waltz, $treet! Perish, People! « Some of Patrice Ayme’s Thoughts Says:

    […] I wrote at the time: “Afghanistan, No You Can’t“. Afghanistan was a blunder for most People, but it was heavens for the Military […]


  2. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Obama is, overall a good guy, but his thoughts and mood processes have been deeply corrupted in some respects by the individuals he breathe with… So now in July 2013, he is discovering that, yes, he can’t in Afghanistan.

    The USA attacked secretly (the republic of) Afghanistan on July 3, 1979 (yes, under Carter). How much enough is enough?


What do you think? Please join the debate! The simplest questions are often the deepest!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: