October 24, 2010

Is Karzai planning to bring the Taliban (and their Pakistani backers) into government in Afghanistan again? The old warlords of the Northern Alliance are preparing to arm to meet this eventuality, yet NATO soldiers are fighting and dying (mainly) in the south in order to push the Taliban back over the border. If Karzai engineers a re-entry for the Taliban into Afghanistan, then the political floor will vanish beneath NATO’s feet and the ISAF mandate could end abruptly.

Entry of the Taliban into the Afghan government will be an disaster only mitigated by an uncertain limit on the degree of Taliban expansion and infiltration. Already moderately secure in their heartlands of the North West Territories, in spite of a half-hearted Pakistani Army attempt to pacify the region and US remote strikes at the networks there, the Taliban will then have enormous manpower resources and be able to rebuild a terrorist, military and political infrastructure.
Pakistan will be competing with the government of Afghanistan to be the first to fall to the psychopaths of Islamism, while any concern over especially women’s rights in the Taliban controlled areas will be utterly futile. A government in which the Taliban participate will result in one of two outcomes: either Afghanistan beings to look like a Sunni version of Iran with the armed forces and police controlled and remoulded as Islamic forces, or the Taliban will retain their militia and hardcore professionals and simply wait to overthrow the government and seize control.

In the event of Taliban entry into government and with no action taken to support the Northern Alliance, the spread of al Qaeda groups into central Russia and the satellite states would accelerate and bring further instability. With the Northern Alliance threatening to rearm its militias in response to this prospect, what course of action could the NATO coalition take in order to either: prevent the Karzai plot from coming to fruition, or if that fails, organise, arm and support the Northern Alliance while working to turn it into a reliable ally. But overall, this prospect remains a very dangerous one which could wreck the last nine years of work.

Russia itself is hampering operations in Afghanistan, the likely drive behind this is a fear of US influence and the Russian government’s own attempts at suppressing democracy within Russia proper and in the border states. This leaves Pakistan as an unreliable base of support in the region, given its temporising and treacherous politicians and generals and its fanatical proxy-war with India. Yet, the insurgency is in the south of Afghanistan, leaving the ISAF logistical base to be critically vulnerable.

If the mission in Afghanistan is to be rescued then a new front is needed and a new ally. Here I believe that India could provide the manpower, political willpower and economic strength to invade and subjugate the North West provinces of Pakistan. This is a radical option but I fear the situation is starting to approach a crisis which will provoke the need to seek radical options. Another would be retreat from Afghanistan but the consequences of this are too horrible to comprehend. As with Iraq in 2006, retreat would only seed the ground for further insurgencies and terrorist cells to spring into being and would, as above earlier, allow the creation of a vast area of hardcore Islamist rule from which terrorist attacks would multiply. Add into this the danger of Pakistani nuclear weapons and we being to comprehend the dangers of failure here.

If Michael Yon is wrong and we are not able to sufficiently defeat the Taliban in the next two years, then to protect the West, radical changes in policy will have to be contemplated.

Waiting for good news

October 8, 2010

“Taleban on verge of collapse after surge success, allies insist” according to the Times.

I truly hope this is true. We saw this begin to happen in Iraq about six months after surge troops went into place and the reports sound similar in so far as the enemy’s infrastructure is falling apart under pressure and critically reports state that the locals are deserting the Taliban. Again, if this is so then this is a major breakthrough but a number of questions remain which render this apparent progress null and void.

1. Pakistan. It is well know that the Pakistani intelligence services and part of the Army are either sympathetic or “fifth-columnists” in regard to the Taliban and the Islamist insurgency. Pakistan is unable to control, let alone defeat the Pakistani Taliban, and for the NATO alliance the Pakistani government has shown itself to be unreliable and treacherous.

2. The Obama problem. The moron also known as POTUS has decreed that by November next year, US troops will start to withdraw from Afghanistan. The danger this presents takes on manifold possibilities.
a. The Taliban will be better able to infiltrate back into the south of Afghanistan into a population, which however sickened by Taliban atrocities, unless protected by security forces will be logistically supporting the Taliban (either willingly or through the nexus of terrorisation).
b. The Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police are not in the slightest bit able to stand up to the Taliban at present. They need constant “corset-stiffening” by NATO forces to hold ground and there are constant worries about infiltration into the ranks.
c. If the Republicans are not able to win enough seats to at least regain the House of Representatives in November, the Democrats may be emboldened to begin running the war down in terms of funding.
d. If the Republicans do win enough to take the House and (please!) the Senate, will Obama simply dig in and refuse to be budged from a position of retreat? I don’t know on this point but there is a danger of a Democrat refusal to allow anything to continue the Afghanistan campaign especially as the liberal-socialist wing of the Democratic Party has been campaigning actively against this war.

3. The Allies. How long will our allies be able to remain in the field in Afghanistan? The Canadians are leaving next year as are the Dutch (to both courageous nations, we owe a great deal), what of the British Army? How long will the will in the Army and in Cabinet remain to continue with the war? These are questions which cannot be answered with any certainty.

What lessons can we draw from this now? Well, the news of progress and a turning point are being backed up by reliable sources, notably Michael Yon (who covered Iraq) and from David Petraeus himself. If the reader also follows the Long War Journal, then there is a great deal of good micro-news (small events) which indicate a good trend.
For the British Army itself, I can only hope the institution has begun to correct its horrible assumptions made in Iraq and for most of the Afghanistan campaign but that requires a much larger leap of faith!

The choice for France

September 4, 2008

The French nation today faces a stark and real choice, between realising the glorious past of French arms or succumbing to the legacy of defeat and defeatism left over from the six weeks of 1940. Will France say to its leaders and political elite – the Taliban have pissed on our soldiers’ graves and insulted our honour, we will fight – or, will the French clamour to retreat and leave the fighting to others?

There is no middle way here. Either France decides to fight and commits more troops to the battle, waving aside their former mistrust of the British and Americans; or France pulls out, does as defeatists like Simon Jenkins say and declare the war lost and tacitly admit that only Europeans and Americans are allowed to live as civilised beings.

The future lies before France; it is now she must choose glory or ignomy.