Ignorance of Afghanistan

It really just keeps on getting more and more depressing.

This morning, I opened up media center in order to watch Colbert Report or Daily Show, but I saw that it had also recorded Frontline’s latest episode, entitled “Return of the Taliban”. I highly recommend that you watch this — they have the episode available online.

Right now in the Waziristan and tribal regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban has consolidated massive power and even land for itself, and its hosting of Al-Qaeda continues. The Taliban is stringing people up again for violating its laws, and rumors of Zawahiri’s and other high level Al-Qaeda operatives’ presences are many. Tribal elders are being executed. Musharraf has limited power to send in his military because many are sympathetic to the Taliban and the mountainous regions are difficult to control. His intelligence agency openly supports the Taliban and is probably the truer seat of power in Pakistan.

Bush is blissfully ignorant of the situation there, while his intel and military services struggle to find ways to get cooperation from Pakistan without him. Even more ignorant are Americans, who think that the “War on Terror” exists in Iraq only and that Afghanistan was taken care of a while ago.

But the truth is that jihad is stable and successful in Afghanistan right now. Recruitment is increasing as the Taliban churns out more new disciples from its madrassas. Money is flowing in, as are suicide bomber volunteers, arms, and tactics fresh from mujaheddin in Iraq.

I joined the Army to hunt Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. I want to go to war but not in Iraq. I want to be in Waziristan. That is where the key leaders of the global insurgency are, and also where key terrorists are. That we are not fighting where we should be pains me very much. I wanted to go after the top guys.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, 17 soldiers have died in three days. For what? I remember that I wrote in my Iraq journal, which I had to remove once I got in trouble, about all these American soldiers who would end up dying in some shitty little hole in Iraq, in often less than honorable ways, blasted apart. Their presence there was known only to their families, and as soon as they died, they disappeared into nothingness, remembered only as a number in the GWoT casualty count and as memories to their families.

CNN has had some great reporting in Iraq lately. Michael Ware (Wikipedia bio), for instance, is reporting from Baghdad. He was featured on a previous Frontline episode about Al-Qaeda, because he managed to gain trust amongst high-level insurgents so he could conduct interviews with them.

In his report to CNN today, Ware lays out the situation. The US is propping up Al-Maliki’s government right now, even though he is a fringe player, just because he is manageable. Nothing new — the US has been propping up weak politicians for decades now.

But he also properly explains how the death squads are engrained into the Iraqi security system now. The Iraqi police not only have death squads in their own ranks, but allow them to freely pass between checkpoints at night. The situation is the same in Afghanistan. You must understand that the people Bush wants to work with, like the military, police, and government, are often sympathetic to strict interpretations of Islam and the insurgencies. It sometimes becomes a matter of tribal loyalties or sectarian loyalties. They are only Bush’s friends on the face of it — they will of course act in their own interests when it comes to things that affect them personally.

We are flooding money into Afghanistan and Iraq to support their militaries and governments, which they use to provide regular income for stability in conducting jihad. This idea of Bush’s to build up security will not work and is going to bite us in the ass in the future.

There IS some good news. I finally solved the mystery of who the journalist was that I met in Iraq. It turns out that Arwa Damon is back in Iraq, reporting for CNN. I met her in Haditha, shortly before some Marines slaughtered some civilians there. In the story I link above, she mentions a high school that she went to with her producer and cameraman. This high school was where I met her. While we were there, the Marines set off four or five controlled detonations, which they use to blow up discovered IEDs.

We talked for a little bit as I was curious about what stories they’d been working on. They’d all deployed more than I have! One of the team guys prodded me to get a photo with Arwa and her producer, since they were both pretty hot and all the Marines were staring at them. So I went up and asked them and they said yes. Later, some other team guys wanted a photo but her producer refused since we wouldn’t tell them what unit we were with.

Me, Jennifer Eccleston, and Arwa Damon in Haditha

I also found out her producer’s name from the article. And apparently, she, Jennifer Eccleston, has a fan site. =P

Anyway, it seems clear to me that the Bush administration is not going to give up its power. Nothing is surprising anymore, not even suspending habeas corpus for detainees. The Constitution no longer applies as most of us recognize it. There are damning research articles coming out daily now. Read my links about Bob Woodward’s book and Rolling Stone’s exposé on a young boy kept at Gitmo for more.

What we need is leadership, and there is none to be found in Washington. Bush has his own agenda which does not coincide with Americans’, whether they realize it now or not. Denny Hastert refuses to resign even as more details about his lack of leadership in handling the Mark Foley scandal come out. I might even venture to say that the stock market is rallying not only because of seasonal bias but also because there’s a better chance the Democrats will at least break up the Republican lock on all branches of the government.