February 3, 2012
A problem, at least it seems to me, is that as soon as you get yourself involved in other people’s business you have a responsibility towards them. Once you’ve intervened and influenced things, all of a sudden everything that happens in your responsibility and you have an obligation to see things through to the end, whatever that end might be.
This problem is highlighted by the Taliban’s declaration that they will retake the country when NATO leaves. They’re probably right, unfortunately. Once NATO leaves, the current government (if it can even be called that, it behaves like a nepotistic crime syndicate) will collapse, with most of its members defecting to the Taliban, and the psychopathic, sexually repressed lunatics in charge of the insurgency will roll into Kabul, triumphant in their victory. More than ten years of foreign occupation will have not made one bit of difference to what will ultimately happen in Afghanistan, except perhaps that our governments will be poorer and those in Afghanistan who did not take the side of the occupation will be angrier. Women will undoubtedly suffer at the hands of their rulers, and much of the relative progress that has been made in the country since the invasion will be undone.
We already have a model of how Afghanistan deals with a prolonged military occupation – the invasion in the 1980’s by the Soviet Union. They too were attempting to instil their preferred model of government in the country but could not sustain their military presence faced with a growing Islamist insurgency and impending bankruptcy and economic recession. The Soviet Union left Afghanistan in rubble, with the Taliban strengthened by their apparent victory. Whatever good came of the Soviet presence, secularisation of society, education for women, and an improved infrastructure was vastly outweighed by the damage the occupation inflicted on Afghan society.