UN Guest House Attacked in Kabul; 8 More US Troops Killed in Bombings; FSO Resigns in Protest; President’s Brother CIA Agent, Drug Lord

Afghanistan continues to generate bad news at an alarming rate. Gunmen stormed a UN guest house in Kabul, deploying small arms fire and killing 3 UN staff members along with 4 other persons. A Taliban spokesman said his group was behind the attack and that it was aimed at disrupting the Nov. 7 presidential runoff election. At the same time, a rocket slammed into a five star hotel in Kabul.

Heavy gunfire reverberated through the streets shortly after dawn and a large plume of smoke rose over the city following the attack on the hostel in the Shar-e-Naw district. Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahman said seven people were killed, including some attackers.

The killing of 8 US troops by roadside bombs on Tuesday has brought the number of US troops slain in October in Afghanistan to 55, making this the deadliest month so far in the 8-year US war in that country. The US currently has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan, in addition to NATO forces.

AP has video:

Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and a Foreign Service officer in Afghanistan has resigned in protest against the conduct of the US war in Afghanistan, the first such FSO known to have done so. He protests that we are simply propping up a corrupt and feckless urban-based government that is being opposed by a rural religious-nationalist movement, and that we are highly unlikely to succeed in settling this three decades-old conflict. Karen DeYoung of WaPo reports that Hoh believes many Pashtun guerrillas have taken up arms against the US and NATO simply because these foreign troops are in their country, so that we are generating the conflict we say we are ameliorating.

Underlying Hoh’s point about corruption, the NYT reports that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, who has been accused of involvement in the drug trade, has for some years been on the CIA payroll. So it makes you wonder, has the US been winking at Ahmed Wali’s alleged drug running because he is an asset who is doing something for Washington? If so, how far up does this operation extend? Afghanistan looks more like Vietnam every day.

Meanwhile, Washington is abuzz with plans and counter-plans on Afghanistan. They include paying the Taliban not to fight the US, focusing mainly on Pakistan, and withdrawing US troops to the major cities.

The Soviets more or less withdrew to the cities in the mid-1980s, and it didn’t stop them from being forced ultimately to withdraw from the country. And they even had loyal Communist Party cadres and large numbers of urban women on their side. I doubt there is any similar genuine support group for US and NATO presence in the country, though the Tajiks don’t so far seem to mind it the way elements among the Pashtuns do.

What I still don’t hear is what the objective of the war is, and how it will be accomplished in some reasonable time frame. If the objective is that Pashtun tribesmen shouldn’t feud with each other and with their government, and should become secularized, then this really is a 40-year war.

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6 Responses

  1. Is there someone suggesting that is the objective? The objective wrt Taliban (Pashtun tribesmen being another matter) is plainly under discussion at this time. I imagine it will be to ensure that an Afghan government's nominal claim to control of all Afghan territory is not threatened or challenged in exchange for an understanding that near total tribal autonomy will be respected.

  2. The US is paying the Taliban not to fight in Afghanistan and instead they are fighting in Pakistan?

    Obama has no conscience !!
    This is how America fights wars ??

  3. With little to no critical thinking we invaded Afghanistan seeking revenge for 9/11, instead of justice. It took no courage or brilliant thinking to start the war. All it took was a macho cowboy attitude. Now after 8 years what do we do? As one General said, do we get out as stupidly as we got in? Once we are out, then what? We will have solved what? It seems there is an absence of critical thinking all around. Hopefully President Obama's administration is doing just that in the latest review. Whatever they decide let's be crystal clear, staying or leaving are both choices fraught with danger. Neither course is any guarantee of anything. Stay or leave the President will have to use his considerable communications skills to tell us exactly what we hope to accomplish. I'm sorry to say that real world issues are not like an hour long version of CSI where solutions are found just in time for dessert!

  4. Sounds like the US has decided to take President Karzai's brother out of politics. "Current and former" intelligence officers revealing an important CIA asset? Why, unless they have been given the green lignt to do so? Maybe we are getting serious about improving governance over there. It beats sponsoring a coup the way we did when Vietnam's President Diem was going down a self-destructive path.

  5. Hoh makes a cogent point, but one that could have been made about Iraq as well.

    The recent NYT series on the reporter being held and his realization of his captors belief in the caliphate is a worthwhile read. It also makes some sense to punish them enough that they give up that belief. To go back to the old Keegan quote –"The first world war taught the winners that war isn't worth it. The second world war take the losers the same lesson."

    And for the record, I think we should give Afghanistan to Pakistan as a strategic possession and let them deal with oppressing their Pashtun cousins.

  6. Informed people in Afghanistan and abroad already know about who and who in Karzai's government are involved with the CIA and/or drug trade. The question is why now. Why the turn in media against Karzai in recent months, from portraying him as a good ally in the 'War on Terror' to a bad puppet? Is it time to dump him? Has Washington found a replacement already? Zalmay Khalilzad or Abdullah Abdullah? Eric Margolis provides some good insights in this regard:

    Two Puppets Are No Better Than One (Oct 28, 2009)
    link to ericmargolis.com

    M K Bhadrakumar on the Khalilzad Possibility (May 21, 2009)
    link to atimes.com

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