Are we committed to Afghanistan? – Christopher Hitchens 1


Yes this is a science blog, and yes, once again I’m posting something that appears to be out-of-scope. Its the latest article by Christopher Hitchens in Slate that appears yesterday. I’ve two reasons for posting about it here …

  1. I’m a Hitchens fan … but if you read this blog, than I guess that is obvious. Hitchens describes himself as an anti-theist and believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment, and both of those very much put him in scope
  2. This is not just a science blog, its specifically a skeptical blog that promotes critical thinking, the values of the Enlightenment, and the scientific method … hence the strong science theme in many entries.

OK, so on to the details. Chris starts off with a reference to Richard Holbrooke …

it was sad to know, as Richard Holbrooke’s heart eventually burst, that he had strained a good deal of it in upholding a policy in which much of his best advice had been, or was being, ignored. He was frequently left off the Obama plane when sensitive talks with Pakistani officials were in prospect. He was publicly rebuked by the administration when he stated that almost every Pashtun family contained at least one Taliban sympathizer. His early warning about the stupidity of incinerating the Afghan poppy crop was often ignored. And his death coincided with the latest confused review of a policy—known as “Af-Pak”—whose very abbreviation contains the seeds of its own negation

Chris, then moves to to make some very insightful comments regarding policy in Afghanistan … here are some extracted sound-bites …

There are policies that might permit victory and policies that merely guarantee defeat. At first sight, a “surge” that emphasizes the date of its own abandonment so well in advance belongs in the latter category …

The critical political question is now this one: Are we committed to Afghanistan or to the Karzai government? …

…in what sense are these allies represented by a regime that cannot any longer even claim to have won an election?…

…The American side was warning the president that a precipitate cancellation of contracts with overseas private-security firms would leave many crucial targets unguarded. Karzai’s response, before storming out of the room, was to shout that he now had three main enemies: the Taliban, the United States, and the international community, and that, “If I had to choose sides today, I’d join the Taliban.” …

OK, so why read yet another ho-hum commentary on all this? The answer is because Chris is not simply commenting from afar, he has tapped into sources who are very close to what is really going on and so he has insights that are well worth considering. The specific policymakers he has discussed all this with includes Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the former British envoy and special representative to the country, who has now discreetly furloughed himself in order to be able to speak more openly. The second is Peter Galbraith, who was unceremoniously removed from Kabul by Ban Ki-moon’s U.N. bureaucracy after exposing the misuse of U.N. funds to underwrite Karzai’s undisguised vote-stealing last year.

Thats why this insightful article is well worth reading in full, you can do so by clicking here.


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