Responding to a Bush defender, I posted the following (slightly edited) to a group discussion list:

X_____, I am not alone in noting that Bush redirected our attention from Afghanistan to Iraq where the bulk of our Middle East efforts have been focused.  The basic flaw in our approaches to both has been the failure to recognize that each is an ethnically and/or religiously divided nation:

Sticking with Afghanistan, we moved in and supported the warlords who variously preside over its separate ethnic communities — they are not exactly models of democracy and most are very much into the opium trade, making Karzai a weak figure head.  Possibly if we had worked on reconstruction there rather than diverting to Iraq, we would not have made the Taliban look now like a keeper of the peace which seems to be a a large reason for their come back.

Do a little research — what the Neocons did not do — on the indigenous cultures over there which are exploding now that the lids are off in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Needless to say our soldiers are not trained to be policemen — particularly vastly under staffed policemen for nations engaged in deadly civil wars.  It has been standard practice for our troops to keep the peace — when it has been already established.  We have under Bush tried to do exactly the reverse with terribly predictable consequences which we are now seeing unfolding.  And a few thousand extra troops will unhappily do little more than provide more targets for the resistance.  You can’t police 2 times 25 million hostile people with the relatively few troops that we have in each of these large countries.  The landscape of Afghanistan and its proximity to Pakistan (with it 5 tribal groupings with a large overlapping in each nation of Pashtuns) makes Afghanistan particularly difficult to control.

I don’t know whether Bush recognizes the mess that he has made of things.  Whatever, the appropriate place for him to have been sounding off on Afghanistan was precisely at the AEI which invented his latest improvisation (Kagan’s proposal for escalation):

Bush will apparently never be able to detach himself from the Neocons, but let us hope that he stops where he is and does not move on to Iran which is the goal of some of them, e.g. Perle:

Needless to say this is damned scary stuff now that Bush looks to be running wild with two years available to do even more damage to the U.S.   Can you imagine our standing with the world if we launch a ‘nuculer’ attack which is reputed to be the only way to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacities?

Maybe you should move out of Brooklyn to a more secure neighborhood — and start praying for Musharraf’s good health!  He, by the way, is a from India originally and not a member of any of Pakistan’s five tribes.

Best, Ed

P.S. Note that the Pashtuns are not a majority in either Pakistan or Afghanistan, but they are the largest subgroup in each from which derive 98% of the Taliban:  They also make Pakistan a haven from which to attack and — with its nuclear weapons — a particularly unstable nation which offers the greatest potential threat to the area and us!

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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