Fixing what’s wrong in Washington… in Afghanistan

Tom Engelhardt, noting that the US government is broke and that there is a bipartisan consensus that Washington is paralyzed, asks:

Why does the military of a country convinced it’s becoming ungovernable think itself so capable of making another ungovernable country governable? What’s the military’s skill set here? What lore, what body of political knowledge, are they drawing on? Who do they think they represent, the Philadelphia of 1776 or the Washington of 2010, and if the latter, why should Americans be considered the globe’s leading experts in good government anymore? And while we’re at it, fill me in on one other thing: Just what has convinced American officials in Afghanistan and the nation’s capital that they have the special ability to teach, prod, wheedle, bribe, or force Afghans to embark on good governance in their country if we can’t do it in Washington or Sacramento?

Meanwhile, The Times reports:

Nato forces in southern Afghanistan bombed a civilian convoy, killing 27 people including women and children and injuring many more, Afghan officials said.

The airstrike in a remote part of Oruzgan province yesterday capped a bloody week for Afghan civilians that has seen some 60 innocent people killed by Nato weapons.

Afghanistan’s cabinet called the attack “unjustifiable” and condemned the raid “in the strongest terms possible”.

The New York Times reports on the latest fracture in the NATO coalition:

A day after his government collapsed, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said Sunday that he expected Dutch troops to come home from Afghanistan before the end of the year.

A last-ditch effort by Mr. Balkenende to keep Dutch soldiers in the dangerous southern Afghan province of Oruzgan instead saw the Labor Party quit the government in the Netherlands early Saturday, immediately raising fears that the Western military coalition fighting the war was increasingly at risk.

Even as the allied offensive in the Taliban stronghold of Marja continued, it appeared almost certain that most of the 2,000 Dutch troops would be gone from Afghanistan by the end of the year. The question plaguing military planners was whether a Dutch departure would embolden the war’s critics in other allied countries, where debate over deployment is continuing, and hasten the withdrawal of their troops as well.

The Times says:

… Afghans involved in western-backed attempts to start talks with the Taliban to end the war were furious, warning that the arrest [of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar] might have ruined chances of negotiations.

“It’s a spectacular own goal [for the US],” said one official. “They want to wreck talks,” said a close aide to Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai.

“Mullah Baradar was independently in contact with the Afghan government to find a way for reconciliation and the Pakistanis knew that from their secret agents.”

Finally, the Associated Press reports:

Pakistan will not turn over the Afghan Taliban’s No. 2 leader and two other high-value militants captured this month to the United States, but may deport them to Afghanistan, a senior minister said Friday.

Interior Minister Rahman Malik said Pakistani authorities were still questioning Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the most senior Taliban figure arrested since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, and two other senior militants arrested with U.S. assistance in separate operations this month.

If it is determined that the militants have not committed any crimes in Pakistan, they will not remain in the country, he said.

“First we will see whether they have violated any law,” Malik told reporters in Islamabad. “If they have done it, then the law will take its own course against them.

“But at the most if they have not done anything, then they will go back to the country of origin, not to USA,” Malik said.

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