After watching recent news reports, it seems that Taliban forces are a mere sixty miles away from the Pakistani capital, capturing large areas of territory along the way. Establishment political commentators in the MSM assure us that the Taliban won’t be able to take the capital, but it remains a realistic threat nonetheless. Regardless of whether they succeed, it’s remarkable to look at the progress of the Taliban despite being removed from power in Afghanistan. Eight years ago, the Taliban sanctioned Al-Queda’s testing of primitive chemical weapons on animals with no serious weapons program in operation. Today the Taliban is on track to taking over a nuclear-armed nation. With this possibility in mind, we have to ask ourselves a very important question: how did we get to this point?
Even if the Taliban fails to take control of Islamabad, their success up to this point suggests that American foreign policy is seriously flawed. To be fair, President Obama has only been in office a mere three months and so he can only be blamed so much. Obviously this development has its roots in the “Bush Doctrine” which prevailed for the last eight years. Indeed, the failure of the neocon foreign policy isn’t limited to Iraq, but can be seen in other areas of American intervention as well. In fact, the present circumstances in Pakistan should be considered another form of “blowback” in which our efforts to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan only drove them to find fertile–and in this case, better–ground in Pakistan.
That being said, during his presidential campaign Obama made it clear that he favored a new variant of Bush’s neo-Wilsonian foreign policy, talking about unilateral action of U.S. forces into Pakistan in order to defeat Al-Queda and their Taliban allies–even against the will of the Pakistanis themselves. Despite his rhetoric of “change,” Obama apparently has no problem taking the “imperial presidency” to a whole new level. Those who thought that the election of Obama meant a defeat for the War Party were painfully mistaken. The new foreign policy (if you can call it new) differs only slightly in the sense that there is more of an internationalist streak about it, but it’s still as belligerent as ever. Just ask David Frum.
Our intervention into Afghanistan was flawed from the very start. Early on after 9-11, Bush spoke of the Taliban as though they were actually a typical government that you would find in any other nation-state. Military planners were slow to understand that this would be Fourth Generation warfare and thus couldn’t be won with conventional weapons and tactics. The leadership, most of whom spent a majority of their careers preparing to battle the Soviet Union, didn’t know how to fight such a war. Seeing what’s happening in Pakistan right now, it appears that they still don’t. Like the British and Soviets before us, we have followed the same failed path of imperialism and occupation. The Taliban continues to exist and thrive despite our “victory” in Afghanistan.
The pro-Western, puppet regime we helped establish in Afghanistan exists only to the extent that American forces continue to occupy the region. Once our forces leave, the “democracy” in Afghanistan will fold like a cheap suit. The same is true for Iraq and the “planners” in Washington know this. Taliban forces know this as well, which is why they’re buying time by moving into Pakistan. Simply put, our occupation is not sustainable politically, economically, and so forth. While we were preaching “democracy” for Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush years, we were simultaneously propping up a military dictatorship in Pakistan. The contradictions certainly don’t end there, but it’s worth noting that pro-Taliban sentiments in Pakistan were given a huge boost due to the unpopularity of the Musharraf junta. “Blowback” strikes again.