I believe the main focus of the discussion between us was if the Taliban did it or not; or am I talking about two different things to two different people?... that is not contradicted neither. We can shift to the reason... or a solution; I'm game for that.
The hardcore Taliban who are doing this do not support the traditional Afghan tribal/elders leadership system: they move in, pretty much as political outsiders, and replace this traditional system with their own system of government. Don't forget; most adult Afghans remember the Taliban being in control... there is no doubt in their minds what is going to happen if they seize power again. Afghans are very religious, way more than most people, but they do not aspire to the hardcore interpretation of the Taliban for the most part. Afghans being Afghans, they are going to fight back against this intrusion, USA/government support or not. I think there's little doubt about that amongst us here.
Of all the 3 systems/sides fighting in this goat fuck I'd like to see those poor tribes and elders "win" the most. They more than the others are in my opinion the Afghan people the thread is titled about. The conundrum is for me anyways is if we just "cut and run" like many here seem to want we are pretty much throwing them to the Taliban [again]. A total hands off approach to Afghanistan would almost guarantee the Taliban the ability to dominate the new power vacuum not out of popularity from the population but just because they are so fucking brutal, have money and weapons support from various Pakistani/Islamic groups and won't give a fuck what world opinion, posters on Babble or anybody else for that matter thinks about their tactics or oppressive system. All they need is for the world to turn a blind eye for them [again] to overwhelm the people with their brutality like after the Soviet withdrawal. If the people are armed and determined to control their own destiny (as the elders said in that article) all they need is our support i.e. weapons and some training to keep the Taliban in check. The Taliban are not supermen, they have their weaknesses as much as anybody else.
So the question is how do we get out of Afghanistan without throwing the people to the wolves again and almost guaranteeing our return in 5 or 6 or 10 years? Cut and run is not an option I like, nor is it realistic. I say major army units out by 2011, Special Forces and training support (to include training in logistics) stays to assure the government and the people have the military strength to negotiate with the Taliban form a position of strength... and go from there. Seems to be the lesser of all the evils to me but still not a good one.
I'm more than willing to hear everyone's ideas. I've typed enough... Solutions? Ideas? Bitches? Smart Assed Remarks, Gripes? Go for it...
Malalai Joya put it best when she said that the Afghan people are fighting a number of enemies: foreign soldiers, (Karzai) government forces, the Taliban and Northern (Alliance)/drug criminal warlords. If the foreign forces leave, that will be one less set of forces the Afghan people will have to fight against.
Freedom and democracy is something the people have to want and fight for themselves. Freedom and democracy cannot be imported from abroad.
Thus, all foreign troops OUT of Afghanistan NOW. Who will ultimately triumph and what the next national government of Afghanistan will look like will be determined the way it often is in Afghanistan - by a feat of arms. May the strongest win.
The mooj, the Northern Alliance warlords, the Taliban and the current puppet Karzai regime were all created by the CIA and ISI. From 1996 to 2001, the Pentagon and Clinton and baby Bush White Houses and State Departments cynically supported and played the Northern Alliance warlords and Afghan Taliban government against each other, supporting the Taliban just enough to keep them in power. Up until the end of the week prior to 9/11, the Bush White House, Dick Cheney, Haliburton, Unocal and Enron were in negotiations with the Taliban government for TAP (the Trans Afghan Pipeline.)
By 9/11 (and many think it was an inside job, myself included), the Bush White House and the Pentagon decided to throw their support behind the Northern Alliance and use them as proxy gladios to overthrow the government because the Taliban rejected the offer for TAP and held out for more money.
When we pull out, there will be a civil war - the result of a power struggle for who will govern Afghanistan. Most likely it will be either the most powerful warlord, the Taliban or some other unsavory group.
If the Taliban, then we will have gone there, had our sons and daughters murdered there by our criminal governments, and things will revert back to the way they were antebellum - as if we were never there at all.
If this happens, it is because WE made (for the past 30 years) Afghanistan this way. We have no one to blame but ourselves.
From the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even in the 1980s during the Soviet Afghan War, there was modernity in Afghanistan where freedom, democracy, equality for women and education for women and girls took place. This occurred in the big cities like Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, etc. This was not the case in the rural countryside.
Trying to ram these alien and foreign ideas down the throats of the rural Afghans isn't going to work. The reason why the Taliban are singling out these village elders is because they have painted themselves into a corner by allowing U.S. Spec. Ops. forces and the CIA to convince them to take up arms against the Taliban. They are in an unenviable position. Just like in Vietnam, they are murdered, intimidated and bribed by U.S. forces when they are most numerous in the area. They are murdered, intimidated and otherwise convinced to support the Taliban when they have the upper hand in the area.
When we are gone and should the Taliban form the next government, what will happen is the Taliban will govern from Kandahar (Kandahar may become the de facto capital), Kabul and the other large cities in the south. The people in the rural countryside will govern themselves. For centuries, Afghanistan has been very parochial and decentralized. The people in the countryside have always pretty much ruled themselves and adopted a "Fuck you" attitude toward the central government. Any outsiders come in and try to throw their weight around, they will be met with fierce armed resistance.
The people of the south are Pashtuns. The Taliban are Pashtuns. The Taliban have the 'home team' advantage. In the long run, who do think is going to win the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan people - us or them?
I certainly ain't going to put any money on us, I tell you what.