Afghanistan Archives

If you had information about local organized crime activities, and were contemplating giving this information to the police, would you be more or less willing to be an informant if you knew your name might be associated with that information?  Would you be willing to take that chance?

Yeah, me neither.

NewsBusters, in a post regarding all the classified information dumped to the public via the NY Times and, more recently, by Wikileaks, noted Jim Miklaszewski discussing this on MSNBC.

Not only are those named put at risk, but those who might potentially cooperate with the Americans are probably not going to do it now. You know, often allies, U.S. allies, have told the Pentagon, State Department, why should we cooperate with you, because whatever we tell you is going to end up on the front pages of the New York Times.

That’s one of the complaints, actually, specifically from Pakistan.  Every time U.S. officials travel to Islamabad to sit down and try to gain increased cooperation from Pakistan, inevitably, we are told, they complain about press leaks that jeopardize anything they’re going to do in conjunction with the U.S.

(Emphasis supplied by NB.) 

While Pfc. Bradley Manning may have had a legitimate beef with how portions of the Afghanistan War have been run, his implication in this massive document dump to Wikileaks far overshadows his initial charges.  If he’d kept the dump relevant to his whistleblowing, I’d think much better of him (aside from the fact that he didn’t go through the normal channels the military has set up for whistleblowers). 

But this dump, purporting to merely foster transparency, has damaged our credibility with potential sources, and given our enemies a boatload of late summer reading.  Just as there were other, proper ways for Pfc. Manning to get his point across, there are better ways to foster transparency than giving aid to our enemies and discomfort to those who might help us defend ourselves.

An "Atta’ Boy" for Obama

On Sunday, President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to visit the troops and speak to them.  They deserved a show of support, and I’m glad they got it. 

The Long Road to Democracy

Some on the anti-war Left, while they disagree with having gone into Iraq, did agree that entering Afghanistan was justified, since we were attacked by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden was being harbored there. That’s a fair and debatable point. However, bringing democracy to the country is proving difficult for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the culture.

In an article on “Strategy Page”, some of the reasons are listed.

NATO military officials understand that not enough foreign troops are in Afghanistan to shut down the Taliban, but also realize that unless the Afghan government can deal with its own problems (corruption, mainly, but lack of administrative skills, religious bigotry and incompetence), the country will continue to be a lawless, poor, and violent backwater in a rapidly changing world. The senior people in the Afghan government are trying, but the obstacles are formidable. The drug trade fits in with traditional Afghan, “get all you can, when you can, any way you can” attitudes. Meantime, the establishment of a national government has backfired in some respects. Religious conservatives are trying to impose their own version of Islam in the entire country via the courts. This is causing unrest, just as it did when the Taliban tried the same thing in the 1990s. The national government has a tricky problem here, since religious tolerance is not an Afghan custom. In the past, the different parts of the country simply ignored each other, because there was no national government that actually imposed national laws everywhere. Whenever that has been tried, like in the 1970s by a communist dominated government, the results are disastrous (as in rebellion and much civil disorder).

Note how culture plays much of a role, and the idea of a shared national identity, outside of tribe and religion, is required for democracy to flourish. In addition, the wrong kind of shared values, such as the “get all you can, when you can, any way you can” thought above, keep this from happening. These are many of the problems faced when giving people control of their own government who have never, in their lives, had this responsibility. Democracy in Afghanistan may be a long time coming, but fortunately the slow progress isn’t being beaten up in the press.

I say all that to say this; cut Iraq some slaq … er, slack. Those suggesting we pull out of Iraq because of their slow progress politically should give it a chance. Radical change takes time. Selfishness is so much easier to express than selflessness, and that’s why building a democracy takes so much effort.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Al-Qaida Is in Iraq

Christopher Hitchens is no fan of religious folks, and enjoys the infighting he sees among religions. However, there is one argument at least that he finds even lower than those.

Arcane as these disputes may seem, and much as I relish seeing the faithful fight among themselves, the believers are models of lucidity when compared to the hair-splitting secularists who cannot accept that al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is a branch of al-Qaida itself.

Hitchens takes apart the arguments that are used by folks to try to convince themselves that Iraq isn’t really a front in the war on terror. A short but meaty read. He closes by putting it all in context.

We can not only deny the clones of Bin Ladenism a military victory in Iraq, we can also discredit them in the process and in the eyes (and with the help) of a Muslim people who have seen them up close. We can do this, moreover, in a keystone state of the Arab world that guards a chokepoint—the Gulf—in the global economy. As with the case of Afghanistan—where several provinces are currently on a knife-edge between an elected government that at least tries for schools and vaccinations, and the forces of uttermost darkness that seek to negate such things—the struggle will take all our nerve and all our intelligence. But who can argue that it is not the same battle in both cases, and who dares to say that it is not worth fighting?

Isn’t that sort of idea, and indeed reality, worth fighting for?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tony Blair on Who the Real Enemy Is

Preach it, Tony.

“It is so comforting to people to say there was an error made in the planning. Someone didn’t spot what was going to go on,” he told the House of Commons liaison committee, made up of all the chiefs the lower chamber’s scrutiny bodies.

“That is not what has created the problem. What has created the problem is that the people we are fighting have decided to give us a problem.

“What they have decided is that if they can hang on long enough in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, then we will lose the will.”

He said that Islamist militants purporting that Muslims were being oppressed by the West had a “difficult argument to make” if Muslims were being given a free vote for the first time.

“If we end up saying that because these people are committing these acts of terrorism in Iraq or Afghanistan, that we shouldn’t have done the removal of Saddam or the removal of the Taliban, then we are making a fundamental mistake about our own future, about security, about the values we should be defending in the world.”

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Abdul Rahman Still a Marked Man

Abdul Rahman is a convert to Christianity from Islam, and escaped the death penalty in Afghanistan (in what was mostly a face-saving maneuver by the courts there). See my previous posts on the subject here and here. Having moved to Italy, he’s gone, but not forgotten.

The kidnappers of an Italian journalist in Afghanistan have offered to free him in exchange for a Christian convert who fled the country, an aid agency says.

Photojournalist Gabriele Torsello was seized last week while travelling on a bus in southern Afghanistan.

The kidnappers will free Mr Torsello, a Muslim convert, if Abdul Rahman returns from Italy where he was granted asylum earlier this year, the aid agency says.

Mr Rahman had escaped a possible death sentence for becoming a Christian.

He had been charged with rejecting Islam and released this March after being deemed mentally unfit to stand trial on a charge of apostasy.

(Hat tip: Michelle Malkin)

Rahman still needs our support and our prayers.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,