Sunday, April 15, 2007

Afghanistan Fight Will Only Get Tougher

By Eric Margolis

"The death last Sunday of six Canadian soldiers in southern Afghanistan reminds us of Santayana’s famous maxim that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.

The soldiers were killed near Maiwand, a name meaning nothing to most Westerners. But there, on July 27, 1880, during the bloody Second Anglo-Afghan War, the British Empire suffered one of the worst defeats in its colonial history. Two years earlier the Raj (Britain’s Indian Empire) had invaded Afghanistan for a second time. The British put Afghan puppet rulers into power in Kabul and Kandahar.

Ayub Khan, son of Afghanistan’s former emir, rallied 12,000 Pashtun (or Pathan) tribal warriors to fight an advancing British force whose mission was, in London’s words, to “liberate” Afghan tribes and bring them “the light of Christian civilization.” Today, the slogan is “promoting democracy.” The fierce Afghan tribal warriors routed the imperial force, composed of British regulars, including the vaunted Grenadier Guards, and Indian Sepoy troops, after a ferocious battle......

The invasion of Afghanistan was marketed to Americans as an “anti-terrorist” mission and an effort to implant democracy. It was sold to Canadians as a noble campaign of “nation-building, reconstruction, and defending women’s rights.” All nice-sounding, but mostly untrue......

This week, the same think tank issued a shocking new survey based on 17,000 interviews. “Afghanis in southern Afghanistan are increasingly prepared to admit their support for Taliban, and belief that the government and international community will not be able to defeat the Taliban is widespread.” Senlis’ study concurs with my own findings in South Asia that Pakistan and India have independently concluded NATO will eventually be defeated in Afghanistan and withdraw. The U.S., however, may stay on and reinforce its 30,000 troops there because it cannot admit a second defeat after the Iraq debacle......"

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