"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."


November 21, 2013

The media would like us to be worrying about whether an Afghan loya jirga (a grand council of elders) is going to approve a SOFA (status of forces agreement) that immunizes U.S. troops from Afghan prosecution.  But here's what we're wondering about instead:  Why aren't we talking to the Taliban?  When you want to leave, it's with the other side you negotiate.

Back in June, the United States and the Afghan government were said to be preparing to enter into negotiations with the Taliban and bring to an end the longest war in American history.  But these negotiations were called off, supposedly because Taliban representatives in Qatar displayed a white flag—not a flag of surrender, but the same flag the Taliban used during the years they ruled Afghanistan (1996-2001).  President Hamid Karzai, the former CIA contractor who has been the U.S.'s man in Afghanistan, hopes to hang on after the American departure.  He called off negotiations.

These negotiations should be resumed. This is more important than persuading a loya jirga to let the U.S. continue waging war with impunity.  As Matt Aikins's investigative reporting in Rolling Stone reminded everyone two weeks ago, U.S. Special Forces consider themselves a law unto themselves.

Too much blood and treasure has already been wasted in pursuit of the Afghan ignis fatuus.  While the U.S. government has done all it could to hide the numbers, the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated recently that through the end of September 2013, the U.S. had spent $641.7 billion on the war in Afghanistan.  There has been almost nothing beneficial to show for it.

Not that there have not been beneficiaries.  American "aid" serves largely to fuel a system that in December 2012 placed Afghanistan at the top of Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.  Huge sums are skimmed and placed in offshore bank accounts, and one in every seven Afghans has had to pay a bribe.  The American military itself is obliged to bribe the enemy in order to enable its convoys to supply the troops.  Who can really believe that this serves U.S. "national security"?

In fact, as UFPPC pointed out in April 2009, four and a half years ago, it is impossible "to identify a single group, region, or sector of Afghanistan or Pakistan that sympathizes with or that will promote American interests in the region."  This is even more the case today.  As for the supposed "war on terror" that supposedly justifies the U.S. presence there, it is more a war against an ethnic resistance movement than an ideological movement.  The U.S. strategy of strengthening the government in Kabul is therefore as doomed to fail as the strategy of strengthening the government in Saigon was fifty years ago.

So why are "we" in Afghanistan?   "[N]ever reading the words 'Afghanistan' and 'oil' in the same sentence is still a source of endless amusement for me," journalist Pepe Escobar likes to say.  What he calls the "high-stakes, hardcore geopolitical game that follows what flows along the pipelines of the planet" is likely to go on.

But it will go on at a lower intensity.  U.S. élites have decided to ease the pressure for hydrocarbon imports by risking the health of the general population, since risking the lives of soldiers hasn't done the trick.  The "fracking bonanza" is on at home, and the safety of the water supply in affected areas is in danger.  They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: at this week's COP 19 in Warsaw (the 19th session of the Conference of Principals to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), discussion of the growing disaster of global warming has been given a sharper edge by the catastrophe of Typhoon Haiyan, a super typhoon that had sustained winds of 196 miles per hour.


"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."