Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

M K Bhadrakumar, "Taliban wake-up call for India," Asia Times, October 9, 2008.

[The US-India nuclear deal has done more than distract attention from the war in Afghanistan. It has created a call for similar treatment by Pakistan and aggravated an already unstable situation in the country through which NATO and the Americans must transport whatever supplies they don't fly into Afghanistan. The tightening noose is reminiscent of "The First Anglo-Afghan War." Surely the same mistakes won't be repeated. Air support is a big difference. Still, there is one line of analysis that says the Taliban won't mount a winter campaign. But Auckland's Folly took place in January. -jlt]

  From all accounts, the Taliban appear edging closer to the Afghan capital and tightening their control in the provinces ringing Kabul.

For the bulk of the Indian strategic community, the unthinkable is happening - the prospect of an Afghan settlement involving the Taliban is increasing.

A sensational expose by an investigative journalist, based on highly sensitive cable traffic last month between the French Embassy in Kabul and Quai d'Orsay in Paris, has thrown light on the Afghan war. For India, it is especially helpful in spotting the war, otherwise hidden behind the global banking meltdown and the India-United States civilian nuclear deal.

Claude Angeli, veteran journalist of Le Canard Enchaine, got hold of a copy of a coded cable by the French deputy chief of mission in Kabul, Francois Fitou, based on a briefing by the heavyweight

British diplomat, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who serves as ambassador to Afghanistan. What Sir Sherard told Fitou in confidence is worth recalling:

"The current situation [in Afghanistan] is bad; the security situation is getting worse; so is corruption and the government [of President Hamid Karzai] has lost all trust."

# "The foreign forces are ensuring the survival of a regime which would collapse without them ... They are slowing down and complicating an eventual exit from the crisis, which will probably be dramatic."

# "We [NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies] should tell them [United States] that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one. In the short term, we should dissuade the American presidential candidates from getting more bogged down in Afghanistan ... The American strategy is doomed to fail."

# Britain aimed to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by 2010.

# The only realistic outlook for Afghanistan would be the installation of "an acceptable dictator" and the public opinion should be primed for this.

Read the rest here =>
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