Afghanistan is often held out as the “success” (as opposed to what even Bush loyalists cannot deny is the mess in Tarbaby Iraq) story. It is true that al Qaeda was attacked and the Taliban driven out. But Islam wasn’t driven out — Sharia was enshrined in the new Afghan Constitution. Islam wasn’t driven out of Afghanistan or Pakistan. And the Taliban, who are simply the Truest Believers in Islam as the Answer to Everything, found refuge and support and were re-supplied in Pakistan. Pakistan is not the same thing, though the Americans keep confusing the two, as General Pervez Musharraf, and he is meretricious in his dealings with the Americans, whose money and military equipment he wants to keep on receiving in such fantastic quantities.
Meanwhile, Karzai is amiable and weak. His government, and all the local governments, are as corrupt as they can be — and will remain corrupt. If you are an American taxpayer, you might not exactly wish to have your money flowing into the abyss of Afghanistan, enriching this or that local Muslim crook, just as so many Iraqis made off with a grand total of billions in American taxpayers’ money and are now living the high life in Beirut, or more likely, Paris and London.
Pakistan, our “staunch ally,” has in effect invaded, through the Taliban, its neighbor Afghanistan. The spectacle of the warlords flaunting the money they have taken or been given, has not been edifying. The corruption that naturally accompanies the public-works projects and dispensing of dough by the Americans merely increases popular resentment, and makes people who have short memories long again for the incorruptible (incorruptible, yes, but also intolerable, as we see it, but as not all pious Afghani Muslims see it) Taliban. This is not a problem to be “solved” but a permanent state: a Muslim country will always find itself tending toward Islam, and only the strongest and most ruthless of leaders — Ataturk in Turkey, or Bourguiba in Tunisia, will be able to constrain Islam long enough for enough secular forces to be developed who can then, holding onto power, continue to constrain Islam — and even then, only by employing methods that Westerners would never permit themselves to employ.
There are several Pakistans. There is the one-man Pakistan of General Musharraf, with whom the Americans have idiotically thrown in their lot. There is the Pakistan on parade, of the well-off anglophone upper-class (in strictly Pakistani terms) well-spoken smoothies, such as Haqqani. They have a network, and more than a few have managed to land jobs all over academic America, and to present their Islamic apologetics to unwary American students as the Good and Moderate Islam, the True Face of Islam. And to further disarm the unwary, they denounce “terrorism.” My, that’s an easy thing to do, why it takes nothing at all, especially if you never quite define “terrorism” or such phrases as “innocent civilians.”
And then there is the Permanently Primitive Pakistan, the Pakistan of the masses. The masses make up 95% of the population, and it is those masses that will decide the fate of Pakistan. The masses make up the rank-and-file (and even many of the generals) in the Pakistani Army. The masses are those who will decide to vote, or not, for Radcliffe-educated Pinky Bhutto, or vote, or not, for this or that smooth-talking outwardly westernized cricketer Imran Khan (deeply re-islamized). Yet, in the West, policies are made based on the outwardly westernized, anglophone elite, because “they speak our language.” Actually, that’s it — they only “speak our language” in the literal sense, but underneath is a completely different understanding of Pakistan, and of its interests, and of what people in Pakistan will want.
Even if Musharraf were not so meretricious, the real Pakistan, the Permanently Primitive Pakistan, will go on hiding Al Qaeda members and invading Afghanistan by means of its obvious proxy, the Taliban. Afghanistan is seen in Pakistan as a possible ally of Hindu India, believe it or not, unless it is kept firmly under true Islamic rule, and not allowed to stray or sway, and that is where the Taliban comes in.
What is to be done? Stop supporting Pakistan. Stop giving it planes. Stop relieving its debt. Stop giving it economic aid or allowing it to export its textiles. Bring Pakistan, or threaten to, to its knees unless there is a change in its policy toward exporting the Jihad to Afghanistan and to India (and not only Kashmir) and for that matter to Great Britain. For in Britain, Pakistanis (British citizens they may be, but Pakistanis they remain in all important senses) live and then go back and forth to Pakistan for Muslim inspiration, and training in all kinds of Jihad-related activities. Stop thinking that in order to prevent Afghanistan from turning into that fearsome thing, a “haven for Al Qaeda,” again, it is necessary to keep tens of thousands of troops on the ground, or pour in billions of dollars in aid. That aid, all that Western money, simply is a source of corruption, and that corruption, in turn, feeds the resentment that causes the Taliban to find new support. Do nothing or very little. Don’t build new roads which will only make it possible for the Taliban, or for others, to move about the country. Keep it as primitive as it is, and if the locals wish to do something about it, let them do it on their own, with Muslim funds and Muslim exertion. Anything else is rolling that Sisysphean rock right up the mountains of Tora Bora. It is too expensive, too distracting, one more example of not realizing that Al Qaeda doesn’t need Afghanistan to “regroup” or in order to train.
Because al Qaeda, and a thousand other groups and groupuscules, have all of Pakistan. No, they have all the world.
To focus on a particular Muslim country, to send in Western troops and spend vast sums of money in order to build up the country (as the locals keep grinning and saying yes, yes, more aid, more aid, more aid, that will do it, more aid) in the hope that this will do anything of use to the Western world, is foolish. It will only weaken the West, divert its attention from such matters as the islamization of Western Europe, and certainly prevent or get in the way of the idea that the best way to deal with the Jihad is, on all fronts, using all the instruments available, to weaken the Camp of Islam: to divide and demoralize that camp, where there are ethnic and sectarian and economic fissures, and to force Muslims to realize — if Infidels themselves first show that they realize — that the political, economic, social, intellectual and moral failures of Islamic states and peoples is a direct result of Islam itself.
This can and should and must be done. The Big Mess in Tarbaby Iraq, the Little Mess in Afghanistan, are both messy and messianic diversions.