The Great Escape – Taliban Style
by Eric Margolis: Why
bin Laden’s Ghost Is Smiling
rarely as good as the original, but last weeks Great Escape
from Kandahar Prison II was almost as exciting as the 2008 original
in which 800 Taliban prisoners were busted out of Afghanistans
This time around,
541 prisoners, including 106 Taliban commanders, tunneled their
way out of the notorious maximum security prison.
Great Escape II was a humiliating blow to American occupation forces
garrisoning Kandahar, and to Canada, which spent over $4 million
two years ago further fortifying the prison. There were red faces
and finger-pointing all around. The US claimed Afghan prison official
were incompetent, corrupt, and in cahoots with Taliban.
Of course the escape was an inside job. Afghan resistance forces
that we collectively call Taliban know just about everything that
goes on in the US-installed Afghan government, military and police.
As I saw during the 1980s anti-Soviet struggle, every military
offensive by the Soviets and their puppet Afghan regime was telegraphed
to the mujahidin resistance days in advance.
The Afghan Communist forces were filled with mujahidin informers
and sympathizers. Since many Afghans knew the Soviets were losing,
regime supporters began hedging their bets by informing and making
side deals with the resistance.
The same process is afoot today in Afghanistan. The 150,000 western
troops occupying that nation have lost the military, political and
Each US soldier
in Afghanistan costs a minimum of $1 million annually. Western forces
are on the defensive, in spite of all the ludicrously cheery war
bulletins shades of Good Morning Vietnam from NATO
public relations officers.
No less an authority than Afghan president Hamid Karzai recently
called the ten-year US-led war, ineffective, apart from causing
civilian casualties. Ouch!
Washington seems to be concluding it cannot defeat the national
resistance militarily. Its Tajik, Uzbek and Communist allies lack
the power to combat Taliban outside of their ethnic territories.
The US is spending $6 billion annually training Afghan government
troops and police. Even so, Afghan government forces are unreliable
and incompetent. They are mostly Tajik and Uzbek, who are hated
by the Pashtun majority.
The feared, Communist-dominated Afghan intelligence service NDI
son of the old Soviet-run KHAD is efficient. It continues
to brutally torture, abuse, and execute suspects. The US and Canada
have routinely turned over Taliban suspects to NDI for torture;
Britain and Holland refused to do so.
The International Criminal Court just announced it may investigate
Canada for war crimes for handing Afghan prisoners NDI for torture.
This is a disgrace for Canada, formerly admired around the globe
for its legal rectitude and adherence to international law.
Canada may be investigated, said the Court, because its government
had blocked and stonewalled all efforts to investigate these crimes.
George W. Bush did the same thing. The admiring Harper government
apparently followed Bushs lead.
The latest American plan for Afghanistan is to hold key urban areas
using a somewhat reduced US garrison backed by a new army of mercenaries
run by the US Embassy in Kabul which is being expanded to 1,000
personal the worlds largest. CIA paramilitary forces
will play an ever larger role in Afghanistan. Canadian forces will
stay on in reduced numbers by trying to avoid danger.
In line with Washingtons new policy, the current US commander
in Afghanistan, the politically savvy Gen. David Petraeus, was just
named CIA director. He is detested by Pakistans leadership
CIA boss Leon
Panetta, a wily Washington insider and budget expert, will become
Petraeus new role confirms CIA is fast becoming militarized
as an active combat arm of the US government. CIA is slated to deploy
more paramilitary units, mercenary forces and drones in Iraq, Pakistan
The Pentagon is also fast expanding its intelligence role. The Pentagons
shadowy special forces HQ, the Joint Special Operations Command,
has just been given the green light to conduct top secret intelligence
gathering and anti-terrorism missions across the
Muslim world from Morocco to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia,
with a special focus on the Mideast. These forces will answer only
to the Pentagon.
Veteran intelligence professionals lament CIAs going
cowboy. They say the agencys primary goal is providing
the White House with facts and balanced analysis, not indulging
in gunplay. Getting involved in fighting overseas will inevitably
corrupt CIA, they warn, and bias its judgment. We have already seen
this happen in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Washington just named a new ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker,
an ardent Bush neocon who was ambassador to Iraq, where he was widely
mocked for his absurd rosy pronouncements. Crocker replaces the
gruff, able ex-general, Karl Eikenberry who kept telling Washington
what it did not want to hear. Yes-man Crocker can be counted on
to issue politically positive reports on how well the war is going
as the US heads into an election year.
the war is not going well. Worse, by waging war in Afghanistan,
the US is relentlessly undermining and destabilizing Pakistan, an
infinitely more important nation.
relations have hit a new low as Washington keeps arm-twisting the
Islamabad government it finances to follow policies contrary to
Pakistans interests and public opinion and to attack its own
WikiLeaks just published documents showing the US deems Pakistans
crack intelligence service ISI a terrorist group. Washington
has clearly gone terrorism bonkers. What next? Terrorist camels,
terrorist dogs, terrorist babies, terrorist UFOs?
I call this new form of dementia, AfPak brain fever.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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