Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Europe warned against defeat in Afghanistan

Posted by alifinmath on February 11, 2008

From Dawn:

The presence of the extremists in the tribal region was not just “a nuisance” to Pakistan, but “is potentially a threat to their government,” Mr Gates told an international security conference here on Sunday.

I want to parse these statements for amusement’s sake. The Pakistani government encouraged and supported Taliban. Probably still does via its covert agencies.

Mr Gates warned that the failure of the international force in Afghanistan would increase the security threat to Europe.

How? Most of Afghanistan is already in the control of Taliban and/or warlords. Karzai is really just mayor of Kabul (and his life even in the capital wouldn’t be worth a nickel without the foreign mercenaries guarding this American stooge, who used to be a Washington-based oil company lobbyist). The US invasion of Afghanistan has been a colossal failure even by American terms.

“But I am concerned that many people on this continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to European security,” he told the forum …

Spell out the nature of this “direct threat.” I don’t see it. There is a problem with Afghani heroin hitting European markets, but that’s about it.

“For the United States, Sept 11 was a galvanising event — one that opened the American public’s eyes to dangers from distant lands,” he said.

It gave US neo-cons carte blanche in a manner that has destroyed American power, influence, and credibility. And even Americans don’t believe that, say, Iraq was a threat to anyone.

“The threat posed by violent Islamic extremism is real — and it is not going away,” he said.

To the extent that it exists (i.e., is not a bogeyman like the commie threat used for the invasion of Viet Nam), what are the roots of it? How do you tackle it so as to do away with it root and branch? Or is it that the US needs to always have a bogeyman foe so as to justify its military posture and national security state?

He said the task confronting the US and Europe was to fracture and destroy extremism and deflate its ideology, and the best opportunity to do that was in Afghanistan.

Does anyone believe this drivel, Gates? You’ve less credibility than a snake oil salesman.

It’s *over* in Afghanistan. The German soldiers stationed there prefer to spend their hours playing cards in the barracks rather than risk their lives on patrol outside on a fool’s errand that certainly doesn’t serve European security interests.

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2 Responses to “Europe warned against defeat in Afghanistan”

  1. Chris Prouty said

    I think it’s silly to think that there is not a terrorist threat to Europe. Off the top of my head I can think of the Madrid train bombings, the London bus bombings, the car bomb recently found near Picadilly, and the crazy doctors who drove their burning Jeep into the front of a UK airport (I can’t recall which, not Heathrow).

    I think that there is clearly a terrorist threat to Europe. And I’m not even counting the smoldering suburbs of Paris replete with young Muslims angry at what they consider a raw deal given to them by the French. However, I will agree that the connection between “victory” in Afghanistan and European terrorist threats is dubious at best.

    As I observe the evolving terrorist attacks in Iraq and elsewhere, I can’t help but think that the traditional Al-Qaeda ideology is crumbling. It’s following the conventional genesis of zealotry: A few die-hards birth the movement and shortly a few bright ones among them realize that it can be used as a tool of psychological control and ultimately personal gain. The ideals are propped up as an advertisement to the intellectually weak, the disenfranchised, and the frightened. Once a critical mass of buy-in has occurred, the leaders wield the ideals to direct their followers for personal gain. I can provide specific examples of why I think this is so, but perhaps other readers have a similar impression.

  2. alifinmath said

    I agree with the broad thrust of your comment — with some reservations. The Madrid bombing had a clear political purpose — to get the Spanish out of the “Coalition of the Willing” — at which it succeeded, as the party in power promptly lost the election some days later and the new government pulled out of Iraq pronto.

    I’m wary of conflating disaffected and alienated moslem youth in Europe with Al-Qaeda type organisations (though clearly they are a source of funding and recruits for such organisations). As I understand it, Al-Qaeda and its ilk derive their raison d’etre from the American military presence in the Middle East, and from their propping up of corrupt and rapacious dynasties and governments (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, etc.) They see oil revenues being squandered on palaces, on private jets, and on whores, and untold billions of dollars entering the US financial system — at the expense of disenfranchised local citizens. And this resonates with people in the region. If I remember aright, Saudi youth unemployment is around 30% (or was it higher?): these conditions provide recruits in Saudi Arabia, in Egypt, in Pakistan, in fact throughout the region. Disaffected and unemployed youth in Europe are a different matter — though of course Al Qaeda will attempt to stress common denominators such as religion and cultural identity, and Western imperialism and oppression. And to an extent, there is truth in this common denominator: both the morass in the Middle East and the presence of Algerians, Moroccans, and Pakistanis in Europe are the direct consequence of European imperialism. But besides this common origin, *shrug*, I don’t think there’s anything else in common. It’s silly to stress a common moslem identity when this has never existed in history. And if it’s never existed, it’s equally mistaken for Europeans to conflate moslems in their midst with Al-Qaeda, and to adopt a common strategy for both. Note: I’m not saying I’m correct: just one line of reasoning that seems plausible to me.

    You’re quite right when you point out how Al-Qaeda and its bastard offspring have morphed in recent years into cartels, spheres of influence, and rackets. Without exaggeration, it is impossible to distinguish them in this regard from the Mafia, from the Yakuza, or from the Triads. Al-Qaeda was never a centralised organisation (except in the fevered imaginations of American demagogues and propagandists): it’s been a loose network or coalition (if even that) of autonomous bodies that have flitted into and out of existence. But then again, there’s nothing unique about this as crime and radical political activity have often been two sides of the same coin throughout history. Radical political activity requires muscle and transgressing laws: whoever has this muscle and transgresses the laws can easily turn to illicit money-making ventures; conversely, political activity has to be funded somehow: opium trafficking and extortion are quick sources of funds.

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