Yeah I know, I know ... We're supposed to "support" the War on Terror because, well, just because, dammit! War is cool.
Osama bin Laden: Who woulda thunk it? More than nine years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden and his number two compadre, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are believed to be alive, well, and living comfortably in the Pakistani borderlands with not a cave in sight, according to the best guesstimate of a “NATO official who has day-to-day responsibility for the war in Afghanistan.” With the globe’s “sole superpower” eternally on his trail — admittedly, the Bush administration took a few years off from the “hunt” to crash and burn in Iraq — he’s a prospective global winner just for staying alive. But before we close the books on him, he gets extra points for a singular accomplishment: with modest funds and a few thousand ragtag masked recruits, swinging on monkey bars and clambering over obstacles in “camps” in Afghanistan, he managed to lure the United States into two financially disastrous, inconclusive wars, one in its eighth year, the other in its tenth. To give credit where it’s due, he had help from the Bush administration with its dominatrix-like global fantasies. Still, it’s not often that someone can make his dreams your nightmares on such a scale.
The Taliban: Here’s another crew heading toward the winner’s circle after yet another typically fraud-wracked Afghan parliamentary election conferring even less legitimacy on President Hamid Karzai’s toothless government in Kabul. Think of the Taliban as the miracle story of the global backlands, the phoenix of extreme Islamic fundamentalist movements. After all, in November 2001, when the Taliban were swept out of Kabul, the movement couldn’t have been more thoroughly discredited. Afghans were generally sick of their harsh rule and abusive ways and, if reports can be believed, relieved, even overjoyed, to be rid of them (whatever Afghans thought about their country being invaded). But when night fell in perhaps 2005-2006, they were back, retooled and remarkably effective.
And it’s only gotten worse (or, from the Taliban point of view, better) ever since. Yes, they are now getting pounded by a heightened American bombing campaign, a Special Operations night-raids-and-assassination campaign, and pressure from newly surging U.S. forces in the southern part of the country. Nonetheless, as the Wall Street Journal reported recently, they are achieving some remarkable successes in northern Afghanistan. After all, the Taliban had always been considered a Pashtun tribal movement and while there are Pashtuns in the north, they are a distinct minority. The Journal nonetheless reports: “[T]he insurgency is now drawing ethnic Uzbeks, Tajiks, and other minorities previously seen as unsympathetic to the rebel cause.”
If, more than nine years later, the Taliban — the Taliban! — is attracting groups that theoretically loath it, have few cultural affinities with it, and long fought or opposed it, then you know that the American campaign in Afghanistan has hit its nadir. Thanks to us and our man in Kabul, the Taliban is increasingly the fallback position, the lesser of two disasters, for Afghan nationalists. This helps explain why more than $27 billion dollars in American training funds hasn’t produced an Afghan military or police force capable of or willing to fight, while Taliban guerrillas, lacking such aid, fight fiercely anyway.
Iran (in Iraq): Remember that old witticism of the neocons of the ascendant Bush moment back in 2003: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran”? Well, it’s turned out to be truer than they ever imagined. Just recently, for instance, Iraqi caretaker prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, went to Tehran to try to hammer out a deal to keep his position (see Sadr, Muqtada al-, below). It’s undeniable that Iran, a moderate-sized regional power the Bush administration expected to crush and instead found itself struggling with by proxy in Iraq for years, now has a preponderant position of influence there. Despite so many billions of dollars and American lives, not to speak of years of covert destabilization campaigns aimed at Iran, Tehran seems to have outmaneuvered Washington in Baghdad (and perhaps in Lebanon as well).
But hey, who really expects a government program to accomplish anything in the first place. It's "doing something, anything!" that matters, right?
Meanwhile, as Americans who claim to follow the Prince of Peace, sing songs of praise to the god of war ... Muslims quietly assimilate.
Shhhhhh .... it's politically incorrect to talk about culture ... but it's a-okay to talk about killin'? I know, I know ... They Hate Us Because We're Just So Nice.