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December 14, 2009

With Allies Like These . . .
Posted by Michael Cohen

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the importance of political reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Turns out the Afghan government has not gotten the memo:

Lured to quit the insurgency by the government's promise of a job, land for his family and an end to the misery of fighting, Mohammed illustrated the hope of the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, for ultimately bringing about an end to the eight-year-old war.

Yet Mohammed's experience offers a cautionary tale: Four months after he gave himself up, the Afghan government has reneged on all its commitments, leaving him unemployed and his family of 10 with nowhere to live. Hunted by the Taliban and fearful of the U.S. military, he spends much of his time in hiding. "I'm stuck," he said one day last week, huddled beneath a tattered blanket to ward off the winter chill. "I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go."

These words are followed by the obligatory quote from US and ISAF officials about the "significant investments" and energy that is going to be committed to solving this problem (further evidence by the way that we're definitely NOT doing nation building in Afghanistan - nothing to see here, move along).

While in fairness budgetary woes have slowed the program's effectiveness, a effort like this will rely on the initiative of the Afghan government and there has been precious little of that to date. Once again we're relying on unreliable allies to make our strategy in Afghanistan work - and as I noted last week even if we do everything right the unreliability of our supposed Allies could sink the whole thing.

This brings me to Pakistan where apparently the idea of expanding the drone war to the Quetta Shura is meeting plenty of resistance:

Five administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that the president has sided with political and diplomatic advisers who argue that widening the scope of the drone attacks would be risky and unwise. Obama is concerned that firing missiles into urban areas like Quetta, where intelligence reports suggest that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and other high-level militants have sometimes taken shelter, would greatly increase the risk of civilian casualties. It would also draw protests from Pakistani politicians and military leaders, who have been largely quiet about the drone attacks as long as they've been confined to the country's out-of-sight border region. The White House has been encouraged by Pakistan's own recent military efforts to root out militants along the Afghan border, and it does not want to jeopardize that cooperation.

Sigh. I'm willing to wager here that Pakistani protests rather than concern over creating "accidental guerrillas" is driving this policy. But, if you're not going to get the Pakistani government to crack down on the Quetta Shura it's going to make it pretty hard to encourage those reconciliation efforts that are likely ill-fated as well.

I don't mean to sound overly pessimistic, but the limitations of our allies in this fight should be concerning - and suggest that the ambitions of our efforts in Afghanistan (like believing we can pacify Helmand province) may need to be pared back.


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This post tells you the mindset of the muslim insurgents,I'll take sides with the ones that pay me the most,the Taliban or the corrupt government. Its not about I want to fight and give my life and cause for peace. To fight against the evil that tries to destroy my wife and children and my country. These people have no moral value or even care about life itself. Oh yes they cry,they weep and show sorrow but if you give these insurgents alot of cash there tears dry right up with smiles on there faces. One day they may swap sides again if needed by the Taliban.

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