Saturday 09 Oct 2021 | 10:34 | SYDNEY
Saturday 09 Oct 2021 | 10:34 | SYDNEY

Reader ripostes: The Afghanistan escalation


Sam Roggeveen


27 March 2009 09:53

Two responses to a reader riposte by Scott Burchill. The first is from Jehangir Karamat, former Chief of the Pakistan Army, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US and now head of Spearhead Research:

Giving up in Afghanistan or withdrawing can lead to unimaginable consequences and misery. Victory is also not really possible. The answer may be a strategy of effective containment — hardened borders, notional red lines beyond which no expansion is permitted in Afghanistan and Pakistan, effective check on weapon inflows and drug outflow and stabilization, development and capacity building in areas that are secure and under control. This strategy should include the return of refugees because their camps are involved in the drugs and weapons trade. This strategy would be transitional and selective military actions could continue. Depending on the success achieved, there could be talks with segments of Taliban.

An American reader, Pete Speer, didn't like my suggestion that the coalition has a moral obligation to Afghans:

Here we go again. 'Moral obligation' raises its ugly head. We have paid our dues with the dead American bodies. There is no moral obligation to keep on paying in the same coin, especially when the Karzai Government and the tribes bound together on the loya jurga cannot band together and defeat the fundamentalist Taliban.

Getting the young ladies out of the burkha and into schools is something that has to be demanded by the citizens of Afghanistan and within their culture. In the long run, if it does not mate within their culture it is beyond our capability to maintain by force what clearly only a minority want. The Soviet occupation could not enforce Communist rule. Nor is ours able to enforce Judeo Christian democracy.

With the Iranians supporting the Baluchis in southwest Pakistan (even as we spend special forces into that country), and with Sharia rule of the Taliban infecting the northwest territories of Pakistan, we have brought Pakistan to the edge of irrelevance, and shortened the al Qaeda roads  into Jammu-Kashmir. We are affecting the future of Pakistan and India. We have been fighting three forces, one in-country and two outside — the Taliban, the Pakistani ISI, and al Qaeda with its multi-national volunteers and its multinational funding.

Our duty is to our own citizens, and if we have been feckless to date in executing our avowed purpose of capturing bin Laden and destroying his headquarters, that mission should be the primary one. He has created for himself the image of an Arab Scarlet Pimpernel. Time to decamp.