Friday 17 Aug 2018 | 13:52 | SYDNEY
Friday 17 Aug 2018 | 13:52 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Getting out of Afghanistan

2 July 2010 13:29

Professor Harry Gelber from the University of Tasmania writes:

There's not much to disagree with in the Heinrichs blog. But a few simple points should, surely, by now be clear. The idea of a modern, Western style 'democratic' polity in Afghanistan was always a chimera. The idea that foreigners, and especially foreign forces, could create an essentially new Afghan culture was always absurd. The idea that the West could achieve a traditional kind of 'victory' — with parades and marching bands at home — was and remains a nonsense.

The situation is that if the West wanted to get Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, that aim was achieved several years ago. What remains is to find a way out that will avoid having new Al Qaeda bases and facilities in Afghanistan and that can plausibly be presented to Western Parliaments and Congresses as some kind of success.

That must mean some sort of deal between President Karzai and the Taliban, who already control much if not most of the country, administering justice and order and even issuing passports in the name of the 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan'. That will require some kind of balance between Karzai and the new Afghan army, together with most of the long-established warlords on the one hand, and the Taliban on the other, that looks sustainable without the presence of large Western forces.

How long such a balance might really work once American and other forces have gone home is a secondary issue and is unlikely to be of huge concern to Western governments (or Western media) after withdrawal has happened, though it may greatly concern Western NGOs and aid organisations.