Playing Ostrich with the Taliban

The more I read about the western world’s adventure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bombing villages here and there to bits and occupying a country, the more surreal it gets. The latest news is a doozy – the taliban leader the US have been negotiating with for a peace deal turns out to be a fake – an enterprising Pakistani or Afghani out to make a quick buck for himself. Full props to the guy… as to the US Army and what not, no suprise they got fooled yet again:

For months, the secret talks unfolding between Taliban and Afghan leaders to end the war appeared to be showing promise, if only because of the appearance of a certain insurgent leader at one end of the table: Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, one of the most senior commanders in the Taliban movement. But now, it turns out, Mr. Mansour was apparently not Mr. Mansour at all.

This guy strung around NATO for over a year! The suprising, and very interesting thing about the US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan is that they get every single thing wrong, over and over again.

Every time the US utters any finding, or paper on what they’re going to do next, all the hacks in all the Pakistani newspaper points out a bunch of things which the new US plan has got completely and utterly wrong. It’s not even that some random writer somewhere figures out what makes no sense in each new and improved NATO plan – practically every single newspaper manges to figure it out.

Here’s a case in point:

The gentleman on the right is Pakistan’s minister for Tourism. In case the picture doesn’t tell you all already, he thinks America is the devil and the Taliban are the best thing since even before sliced bread was invented. He has never touristed in his life besides visiting taliban training camps and doesn’t know tourism if it came and hit him on the head. Heck, he has ran tons of madrassas which produce taliban types. Mullah Omar, the actual leader of the Taliban, trained at his best friends and partner in politics madrasssa.

The point being that the Pakistan government is in bed with the Taliban, in many cases IT is the Taliban, and still the Americans insist on talking to random fogies who walk in off the streets of Peshawar rather than the actual guys. It’s not just the guy in the picture above, it’s so many of the other guys running the govt…

Someone on twitter pointed out, no one knows whats actually going on in AfPak, and while that’s true, some people not only don’t know what’s going on, they also hold too many really really wrong beliefs about what is going on. Even the writers who tend to be right about America’s moronic bumblings in Pakistan don’t know whats going on, they’re just pointing to the drunk in the room falling all over the place making things worse. What they’re making worse and what’s going to happen, no one knows, but the shit is sure flying through all the the bombed down walls. It’s a wonder there’s still a fan for the shit to hit, but American’s billions of dollars is buying them a efficient shit spreading fan, if nothing else.

One of their most efficent shit spreading techniques is GIVING MONEY TO THE VERY PEOPLE running the madrassa’s which give aid to the Taliban. Not the brother of the guy who is funneling some money to his shadier brother, but direct aid and money.. Which has been convered before in this weblog, many years ago, and in Pakistani newspapers all the time, but sadly USAID and the Dept. of Defence didn’t get the memo yet.

Some wag in some foreign land always points out, no, the US/Brits/Aussies/Germans does no such thing! NATO is running a mighty good war in a mighty nice fashion! Which leads to the interesting spectacle on where all the money, even that sent solely for a good cause, gets spent. Ethics breaks down at a distance, as Peter Singer has been pointing out recently, and the US/Brit/Aussie/German ethical approach to aid delivery in Pakistan is a fine example of that. Of course, Singer’s points out that distance doesn’t excuse the lack of ethics, it just makes it easier to be unethical further away.

American writers, like this one, even when understanding part of the issue tend to get the big picture wrong:

America is stomping around the moonscape of Afghanistan trying to do the right thing, but we can’t because we’re clueless about the culture to the point where we can be faked out by an imposter masquerading as Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, a high-level Taliban commander.

What’s wrong with that para, a lot of people would think. From actions on the ground, the things actually funded v.s the things aimed for in speeches, it doesn’t look like America is even trying to do the right thing, or whether it even set out to. Bush made it clear – they were going in for Bin Laden back in 2001. At some point they failed in that very specific mission. How and where exactly anyone in this scenario, whether the Taliban or NATO is doing the right thing fails me. Journalists like the one quoted above live in a world where too much information comes from the people dedicated to doing the wrong thing, like the US Dept. of Defence, the Pakistan government, the Taliban and of course all the fake Talibans.

Notice how NATO has little to no interaction with anything or anyone which is not fucked up in the countries they operate in. There are a few random useful projects which the US Embassy in Pakistan actually funds, like a archaoelogical dig here, a restoration project there, one scholarship somewhere else – all to the tune of a few thousand dollars as they shovel over arms and billions of dollars for all the very bad stuff, like giving a random fake Taliban leader more money than all the money they actually spent on anything usefull.

Mind you, there isn’t just one fake Taliban leader, there is a whole legion of them living it up all over Afghanistan and Pakistan on the NATO dime. It’s getting so bad that some of the fakes have had to band together and fund some attacks on NATO themselves so they have some useful intel to pass along to the Americans to establish their credibility.

On the bright side for NATO, while they can hand wring and ID the person they speak to next, they can keep going on killing people without much doubt:

So, tell me, spy novel world, how is it that you cannot identify someone you give money to, someone you introduce to highest officials but you ask us to believe that you know without any doubt that someone you kill without any formal charge, any trial is the right target?

Anyways, Joseph Heller covered all this a lot better decades ago in Catch-22. Here’s as good a reason as any as why the shit will keep flying:

The chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization, and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.

And more:

“When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven, or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and human tragedy.”

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