In September 2011 Former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a key Northern Alliance leader and the only Tajik to be President of Afghanistan, was murdered after Taliban emissaries promised to deliver him an important message of peace. When welcomed, they blew him up.
In August 2011, after a conspiracy that lured in members of our Seal Team Six with other heroic Americans, the Taliban set up an ambush and murdered them.
Following those brutal attacks, President Obama’s strategy has been to hasten negotiations with the Taliban. Additionally, the Obama administration has now not only offered to release known Taliban terrorists from detention, but has already released some and additionally offered to legitimize our sworn enemy by furnishing them a princely office in Qatar.
In return, Obama’s agents defend that they are being tough on the Taliban by demanding that they not use the office to raise funds to support their terrorism. That is a bit reminiscent of the Clinton-Albright demand of North Korea that if we give them nuclear technology, they must promise to use it for electric generation and not weapons.
According to many Afghans, all of these and other Obama Administration actions give substantial credence to the Taliban claim, supported privately by some Pakistani leaders, that the U.S. has lost in Afghanistan and is now begging them for negotiations. One Taliban leader who was released from detention by the Obama administration for medical and end of life purposes, is now back in command and recently demanded on Afghan TV that since the Americans have now lost and are begging for negotiations, Afghans disloyal to the Taliban must come ask forgiveness and for safety from the Taliban.
A Northern Alliance leader says that of the more than 800 Taliban detainees that have been released, he is now seeing many of them fighting, killing and terrorizing again. Yet, the Northern Alliance leaders are being effectively shut out of the plans for the way forward, while being demonized by the American government they helped.
The State Department even went to extraordinary links to attempt preventing the writers from meeting with the Northern Alliance leaders. We were able to meet, with some help from foreign friends, but clearly the Obama administration and its comrades mean for our allies to stay under the bus when they throw them there.
In late 2001-2002, the Taliban were defeated with less than 500 Americans embedded with the Northern Alliance, but now the Taliban is stronger while we have more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Though Vice-President Biden says the Taliban are not our enemies, American soldiers in Afghanistan say the Taliban are still creating IED’s, firing bullets, firing rockets and doing all they can to kill Americans, so it seemed to them that the Taliban certainly think they are our enemy. This points straight to the fact our military is not the problem; its their commander in chief who is the current weak link in our chain of command.
To date, the U.S. nation-building experiment in Afghanistan has produced instability, violence, skyrocketing drug production, widespread corruption, fraudulently rigged elections and the general disapproval of this new government by its own people. Under the U.S.-approved, Afghan Constitution, President Karzai appoints all governors for the provinces, all mayors, police chiefs, the slate for one third of the Senate candidates, and even a segment of the Class 1 teachers in the country. He even has power of the purse that the U.S. President does not have. Clearly this is a formula for heightened corruption, while isolating and ignoring many ethnic groups that make up the very essence of Afghan society.
Many with first-hand experience fighting the Taliban say they are dependent on Pakistan for their marching orders, strategy, and weaponry. In the meantime, President Karzai’s regime has dropped every pretense of appreciation for American sacrifice in blood and treasure as demonstrated by his recent threats to align with Pakistan, Iran and China even as we continue to prop up his government. From Karzai’s perspective, he may well see the Taliban and Pakistan as holding his fate in their hands once the U.S. pulls out.
At the same time, the U.S. is pouring billions of dollars into Afghanistan that comprises the largest portion of the Afghan government’s own budget. U.S.A.I.D. alone is pouring $3.6 billion a year into the country for aid and projects while the money often fails to get past corrupt government officials with 80 percent going to Taliban areas and a tiny fraction going to areas where our allies reside.
The Afghan leaders have become increasingly enriched as their contempt for us has continued to grow. At President Karzai’s encouragement, we have politically and militarily undermined the natural and historic barrier to the Taliban, which is the non-Pashtun peoples of the North, Central and Western parts of Afghanistan. As these non-Pashtun communities were weakened, their leaders were undermined by U.S. support for Karzai and his concentration of power.
The critical next step should be to insist on a new Constitutional Loya Jirga, or convention, that will draft a new constitution enshrining federalism as the new form of government. This would break the Taliban’s ability to dominate Afghanistan by strengthening those communities opposed to the return of the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies. It would give Afghans the kind of hope that our founders provided Americans 225 years ago with our Constitution.
We should insist on local elections of Afghan governors and mayors who may then select the police chiefs. Electing regional leaders would serve to eliminate the conduit of corruption built into the present system, while at the same time giving the governing authority back to the people who are now being disenfranchised.
This course would establish the basis for a political system that allows each of Afghanistan’s ethnic communities to retain their identity and protect them from the Taliban’s violent ethnic repression, brutality and regressive domination. The resulting political framework would also enable trust and goodwill to be built between Afghanistan’s diverse communities as each community would have a direct and important say in its own future.
Perhaps we should even consider support for a Balochistan carved out of Pakistan to diminish radical power there also. Surely, leaving Afghanistan to the same terrorist thugs who enabled the September 11th attacks is the very definition of insanity.The way forward should not include the current Obama plan of putting our future in Taliban hands that are covered with American blood.