rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Is the Taliban 'on its knees'? Not very likely

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Mao Zedong in 1927

Mao Zedong, a guy who may have known a thing or two about guerrilla warfare, famously observed: "The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea."

So when you hear news reports that thanks to the efforts of NATO forces in Afghanistan the Taliban is now "on its knees" in what used to be its heartland of Panjwaii, you can be reasonably certain that your leg is being pulled.

This should be true even if you are the prime minister of Canada, who was told this very thing a few days ago by Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Habibi of the Afghan National Army. "There were 400 or 500 Taliban in the area when the Canadians came to Kandahar in 2006," Habibi told an apparently credulous Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "The enemy is on its knees here now."

Presumably, Habibi will say much the same thing again, and be quoted by major media saying it, when he visits the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., next month.

So, imagine yourself for a moment in the dusty sandals of the local Taliban commander who must face Habibi and his better-armed, better-trained, better-led and better-fed Canadian allies.

With the Americans saying they are about to pull the bulk of their forces out of your country, the French and Germans announcing the same thing, and the rest of the rickety NATO coalition certain to quickly follow, what would you do?

You don't have to be a graduate of a prestigious military college, or even a guest speaker there, to know that you would act like a fish in the water, or, in the case of the Panjwaii district, like a subsistence farmer. This will be easy to pull off, of course, because in all likelihood, that's exactly what you would be.

In other words, you would be patient and wait. Your Kalashnikov would be wrapped in an oily rag and buried -- deep enough to stay where it is, but not so deep you couldn't get it if you needed it. If you were feeling particularly creative on the night you did the digging, you might even scatter a few poppy seeds above it.

Would this mean you have gone away? No. Would this mean you have changed your mind? Nope. Would it mean you are on your knees? Absolutely not!

What it would mean is that you are behaving as elements of insurgent armies always behave. You know enough about war to know you cannot defeat a technically advanced army head on, even in your own backyard. You know enough about history to be certain no such army will stick around forever, especially if you harass it in your backyard. (Indeed, as Mao preached and the Taliban has practiced: "The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.")

You surely know enough about your own country to be certain that Habibi and the ANA will not stand up when the Americans, Canadians and all the rest "stand down."

You may even know enough about current events to have heard that your patience is about to be rewarded.

If it is, we Canadians will be entitled to ask what our soldiers were doing in your benighted country throughout this past decade, spilling their blood and spending in excess of $20 billion of our treasure that could have been used to build schools and hospitals right here in Canada.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.