Shrapnel From Afghanistan III



Historic Shrapnel #20

Despite Pakistan’s assertion that the Taliban had solid Afghan roots, these had atrophied over time and would be hard to rebuild.  Taliban ideology was more Pakistani than Afghan, and while its popularity surged in Pakistan’s NWFP, fewer Afghans saw it as a model for the future.  Its Pakistani-based leadership could not wage an insurgency without the recruits, bases, and safe refuge it had access to there.  If Pakistan ever reversed its policy of support, as it did to Mullah Omar in 2001, the insurgency in Afghanistan would be dealt a fatal blow…


Historic Shrapnel #21

The Taliban’s condemnation of the Karzai regime as subservient to the United States looked hypocritical in light of their own subservience to Pakistani interests…




excerpts from the book


A Cultural and Political History

by Thomas Barfield





Historic Shrapnel #22

Afghanistan had always been the “other war” under the Bush administration, starved of resources, attention, and troops in favor of Iraq.  By mid-2009 that status was reversed.  The number of casualties and war costs in Afghanistan exceeded those in Iraq for the first time.  The first surge of seventeen thousand U.S. troops was designed to both provide greater security for the Afghan election in August 2009 and lay the foundation of a new counterinsurgency strategy.  That strategy was confirmed in December when after months of deliberation, President Obama announced the dispatch of another thirty thousand additional troops to Afghanistan, putting U.S. forces over the one hundred thousand mark in 2010.  The planned size of the Afghan army and police was also greatly increased…




Historic Shrapnel #23

Afghanistan was the only place in the region that the United States had a direct presence that could prevent the reconsolidation of Islamic extremists, and serve as a base for responses to potential state collapse in the surrounding countries of central Asia and Pakistan.  And the fear that nuclear-armed Pakistan might either disintegrate in the face of an Islamist insurgency or that its government could be seized by a radicalized military faction that supported the insurgency’s cause gave a U.S. presence in Afghanistan even more importance.  As had many foreign powers before it, the United States found its Afghan policy as much driven by events in south and central Asia as those within Afghanistan itself…


Historic Shrapnel #24

Qandahar in the south, Mazar in the north, Kabul in the east, and Herat in the west, remain the leading cities that dominate their own large regions in Afghanistan…


Historic Shrapnel #25

Both the United States and India have given priority to eliminating the power of radical Islamists, and hence are more in sympathy with each other than either is with Pakistan.  Such an alliance, if it were to occur, would mark the end of the cold war legacy that has undergirded U.S. support of Pakistan for more than a half century…




Historic Shrapnel #26

Pride in the past is no bar to change in the future.  Perhaps the best recent example of this was the Pashtun leader, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, in the NWFP.  Inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, he founded the nonviolent Khudai Khitmatgar (“Servants of God”).  After taking an oath to foreswear violence, retaliation, and revenge, its eight thousand members divided into trained regiments, and devoted themselves to village improvement, education, and reform.  They also led the resistance to British rule in the region in which hundreds of their members lost their lives in nonviolent protests in the 1930s.  When the British left India, Ghaffar Khan remained a gadfly.  He was jailed by the Pakistani government in the 1960s when he protested against military dictators there.  That such a nonviolent movement could emerge and thrive in a culture that had raised revenge to a holy principle should caution anyone against believing that people or cultures are forever prisoners of the past.  It also stands as a challenge to the Afghans themselves to take the lead in breaking the cycle of violence that has generated so much suffering for so little benefit for far too long.


edited by Rawclyde!


2 thoughts on “Shrapnel From Afghanistan III

  1. Seems as though, if Afghanistan is to change, the Pushtuns, especially are going to have to want it. In both Afghanistan and Pakistan. I’ve no idea the how likely that may be, but I’m not holding my breath. …I like the juxtaposition of Afghanistan and the old American southwest.

    • Thank you, J. Curtis. My main concern is our exit be positive as possible ~ and that we don’t get slaughtered on our way out… As for Afghanistan changing, that might be a crap shoot come their elections in April. Most of the Afghan Taliban, & Karzai too, are Pushtuns, as you are probably well aware ~ so yes, its largely up to the Pushtuns for sure…

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