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« Changing U.S. Policy for Afghanistan? | Main | How Much Is There Beyond Our Differences? »

Guest Blogger: Sarah Chayes on Negotiating with the Taliban

(Photo by Robin Holland)

There was one issue Bill and I did not have time to address in our interview today: the notion of negotiating with the Taliban.

It has been startling to witness the parade of international policy-makers, not to mention members of the Afghan government, now opining that way out of that country's gut-wrenching situation is to cut a deal with those who are victimizing its population. For, make no mistake, no matter how this prospect may be packaged, "reconciliation" with Taliban, at the level at which exploration is now underway, will involve some kind of power-sharing.

The proponents of this approach rest their case on a couple of fallacies. One is that "no insurgency has ever been defeated without negotiation" -- one of those assertions that takes on the force of truth by dint of repetition. It ignores all the diversity in texture and outcomes of insurrections down the years. Not to mention the question of whether what is happening in Afghanistan can really be called an insurgency.

This is not just a matter of semantics. The second fallacy, which I have heard perpetuated even by some Kabul-based Afghans, is that the Pashtuns in the Afghan south generally favor the Taliban. I live in Kandahar, the former heartland of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. I have lived there since the week he was chased out. I can attest that the support for the Karzai regime and its international backers at that time, and for the next several years, was unanimous. Kandaharis suffered the worst punishment at the hands of the draconian Taliban regime, and were delighted by its demise, and filled with hope for the new chapter in their nation's history that opened in December 2001.

Two things have happened since then. One is that the Pakistani military intelligence agency has been diligently reconstituting the Taliban which it first created in 1994. The injection of this newly reconstituted Taliban back into Afghanistan represents something closer to an invasion by proxy than it does an insurgency. And secondly, Afghans, including Pashtuns in the south, have been bitterly disappointed by the behavior of the Karzai government. The word "corruption" does not do justice to the scale of the phenomenon.

It is the people's objection to their treatment at the hands of government officials that explains the headway the Taliban "invasion" has made. In some cases, Afghans are making a calculated judgment: the Taliban are threatening all those who collaborate with the Afghan government, and the Afghan government is abusing the people. So why take the risk that allegiance to Kabul entails? In other cases, the Taliban are actually providing services in a more respectful and equitable fashion than the government. In other cases, people are turning to the Taliban simply out of a sense of outrage, as a kind of protest vote. None of these adds up to a groundswell of ideological support for the Taliban movement or an active desire for its return to power. More like acts of desperation by a population that has no means of recourse.

We, the international community -- led by the United States -- have never called to account any of the Afghan officials we ushered into power back in 2001, and have backed with our money, our weaponry, and our moral support, ever since.

Sarah Chayes poses the following questions. What do you think?

  • Why, after seven years of effort, are we thinking about inflicting the Taliban, again, on the long-suffering Afghan people? Why does that seem like a solution to this problem?
  • Why is it so hard to imagine that Afghans, like most of us, wish to be governed by a respectful, educated cadre of people who are open to suggestions and to whom ordinary people have access for the redress of grievances?
  • Why has it come as such a surprise that when we empowered known and previously repudiated criminals, providing them an unfettered and unchallenged grip on power and public resources, Afghans became disaffected? Why is that disaffection seen as a sign of the Afghans' inveterate tribalism and resistance to government of any kind, rather than as a sign of their attachment to basic democratic principles?


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    I start with thanking Ms. Chayes for her help and friendly face to the Afghan people. I thank for her courage and her being eager.

    But I heard also that now she is top advisor for U.S. Generals in Kabul. In the first instance, I believed she is showing these Generals the good way, but then I think: Can the lamb live peacefully in the wolf's cave? There is no change to U.S. terror to the peaceful Afghan people, even when Ms. Sarah Chayes pretends to guide the Generals. I think she must protest this crimes! I think she must defect if her Generals do not stop this killing. And what does her advise to the Generals stop their help to corrupt government officials and narcotics barons who step on the backs of poor Afghan people?

    I am sorry, but my opinion of Ms. Sarah Chayes is wounded by her decision to hurt my people.

    Ignorance can contort people's thoughts into strange shapes. The typical American knows almost nothing about Islam, the history of Pakistan, Afghanistan, or muslim culture.

    Several people have tried to tell me about horrible, irrational teachings of the Koran. Yet none of these people have actually read it. I ask them which of the sulas they are quoting, so that I can check my copy of the Koran. Invariably they simply insist that the words must be there, because a reputable source (like Sean Hanity) has told them so.

    The United States used to support a repressive federation of tribal warlords called the Northern Alliance. They terrorized the countryside. It bacame so bad that young students created an idealistic religious movement in opposition to the Northern Alliance. This new movement became the Taliban.

    Of course, the Taliban became corrupted and repressive. But at various times we have supported either the Taliban or the Northern Alliance, as was convenient to us. The decision of which group to support has never been based on the welfare of the local population.

    Americans think of muslims as fanatics; Pakistanis and Afghanis as tribal fanatics; of Iranians as hateful fanatics; of Saudis as rich fanatics ....

    When you view people as irrational, their religion as dangerous, their problems as self-inflicted, and their culture as ridiculous, how reasonable can your foreign policy toward them be?

    It is easy for our policy toward these people to disregard their welfare because we are so used to disregarding them as a people.

    Until we understand and care about the people there, our government will continue to support whichever repressive, victimizing force is most convenient.

    Regarding the interview with Mr. Simon. My heart is heavy with what confirms my own feelings and/or opinions on America's Congress and responsiblity to uphold the Constitution and equality for all Citizens of America. I have said for many years, "It is not given that so few have so much and so many so little!"

    Is the Tea Party to late to turn the tide of Congresses failure to serve all Americans? Bartlett & Steele have written two powerful books (as many other have) on how America's Congress allowed a Few ulitmate control and the taxing Many!

    Like Mr. Simon spoke about the recent (but gradual) failures of Government to regulate and oversee Corporate America and International business activities may bring down America. I totally concur. The party is over. Turn out the lights.

    "Wallstreet is the route of all evil!" The middle class absorbs all the losses in the stock market.

    More another time.
    John

    Excellent site. It was pleasant to me.

    Dear sister, after all this, ask a non-Muslim what it is that he wants from you? Does he want you to be liberated? Liberated from what? From Allah and his Messenger? From the Quran and the Sunnah? From Jannah? From this deen that Allah chose for you?
    And what is he going to give you in return? Happinness? By Allah, he does not own any happiness to give. Is he going to give you love and protection from punishment in the grave and from the gatekeepers of hellfire and from death? Why is it that they want to liberate young beautiful women? Why don't they liberate the seniors? Why don't they liberate the indigenous? Why don't they liberate the inmates? Why is their target audience a young and skinny and tall women (their definition of beauty) between the age of 13 - 28? And why is their first call for you to take off your Hijab?

    The removal of mountain tops (mind-boggling that this barbarism and rape of the land is even allowed in the US in this century) and wanton destruction of nature, coupled with the intentional fouling of waterways should be considered high treason. To think that short-sighted people with no regard for future generations and no regard for nature, those only interested in 'making' money', are allowed to fould their own nest is disgusting. Clean up your backyards before you worry about cleaning up various backyards of the world. You don't dirty your own nest if you are remotely civilized.

    I hope your plan for afghanistan has actually been given to the appropriate people in the new administration.

    I will feel much better if it has.

    Thank you for your bravery and effort for these people.

    Sarah, it is good to see your recent comments, I was worried by the lack of activity on ARGHAND!

    I would like to know if your plan for action in Afghanistan, the one on your website, has been given to anyone in the new administration.

    I would feel so much better if it has been.

    Bless you for your bravery and your rational ideas.

    Given Ms. Chayes access and placement in Afghanistan (unparalleled by any member of the US Dept of Defense), her numerous presentations to multiple DOD organizations since the 2006 publication of her book, all of her presentations having basically the same indictment of how poorly the war in AFG has been handled, and the fact that her indictments have never been been refuted, one might conclude that she is right and everyone knows it. That, or the DOD really likes hearing how pathetically they're being employed.

    It comes as no surprise that Mr. Moyers, in his "Journal" show of 1/2/09 makes no mention of the fact that the phrase "Barack the Magic Negro" comes from the March 19th, 2007 article of David Ehrenstein, a liberal columnist of the Los Angeles Times.
    The Shanklin piece that Mr. Moyers speaks of in the piece is a parody of that article.
    If Mr. Moyers did not know that, and reported the story in the fashion in which he did, then that would be unfortunate. If he knew that, and reported the story in the fashion in which he did anyway, then that would be unforgivable.

    The Taliban? Why are we waging war against a religious sect? Because of 9/11? Pshaw. Get real.

    The decades long history of the US CIA/Pentagon presence in Afghanistan MUST come to an end.

    Whatever the situation in Afghanistan, it is none of my, none of our business. I should die in Afghanistan? Who cares about the Taliban? Seriously.

    The Appalachian mountains are not so high and rugged as those on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but America suffers open sores there rivaling those in the Kyber Pass.
    Please, will some kind bloggers comment on the Harriman, Tenn. slag disaster and the deceit of cleancoal on the Allen Johnson page. (Hit on "more posts" and scroll down.) Thanks, I appreciate your input.

    Almond Kootenei

    Fearmongering is becoming quite tiresome.

    Why is the US in Afghanistan? What is the justsification?

    There is no evidence Osama Bin Laden was involved in 9/11. None whatsoever. The Taliban offered to give him up if evidence was presented. None has. And none will. Because there is no evidence.

    The war on terror is a scam. It should be called the war of terror.

    You accuse the Pakistani government of terrorism. What do you call the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq with no evidence or justification, and on top of that the threatening of invasion to several other countries?

    Are you so gullible? Do you actually believe these wars are fought for freedom or democracy? Do you really believe those who run our government care about those things at all?

    Excuse me. $11 BILLION!
    And I apologize, Musharraf designated LeT a terrorist group... even as, by all accounts, the ISI supported LeT as a tool to destabilize Kashmir, or so the media is reporting.

    Okay, here's my thing, the USA PATRIOT act laid out severe punishments for giving material support to terror groups or those that give aid to terror groups, and yet the Bush administration has given the Pakistani ISI at least $11 million. Since the attacks in Mumbai the media have been reporting that the ISI has been supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan and Afghanistan (this was no surprise as the intelligence community only needed to read newspapers from the region, unless Bush also failed to "beef up" intelligence after the massive failures that got us into Iraq). This is a group that was designated as terrorists by Ahmadinejad. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before Bush is hooded by Special Forces and extraordinarily rendered to Gitmo for some good clean torture, uh enhanced war crimes, er enhanced interrogation. We can only hope.

    I simply want to thank Bill Moyers Journal for continued excellence, for making me think, for expanding my view. This week's program, "Beyond Our Differences", should cause us all to rethink the beliefs we've created in the name of God. Our world would be a much better place if we only all practiced what we say we believe.

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2008/12/guest_blogger_sarah_chayes_on.html#more

    Thanks again to Bill Moyers for holding the magnifier to what is happening to people of another part of the world, all in our name.

    And many thanks to Sarah Chayes for trying to help out Afghans.

    Many previous commentators wrote about what our govt is doing in that god-forsaken country, what it should or should not do. Sarah also clearly demonstrated the desperation Afghans feel from being squeezed by both a corrupt US-installed gov't and the backward Pakistani-backed Taliban. She warned against negotiating with Taliban. Although I agree with her on that point, but what is implied from her interview is to rely on foreign forces to ward off Taliban. I disagree with that implication.

    No nation ever been liberated by outsiders unless able to govern themselves and run their affairs independently. I understand that may be interpreted as leaving Afghanistan to be taken over by Taliban and Pakistani agents. But consider the alternative: the current situation of foreign intervention and installation of a US-puppet govt that gradually but surely the people we "liberated" are turning against.

    Capitalist classes of countries that can support their ambitions for taking over markets beyond their borders have and will try to interfere in internatl affairs of those "market" countries. Afghanistan, like Iraq, is one of those markets.
    We can speculate and debate ad nauseum about why they invade or interfere in this or that country. That doesn't change much in the toll that people of those countries end up paying. Nor does it change the recourse.

    An informed, organized, and self-assured population can surmount any obstacle in time. That is why all anti-people gov'ts in the world, from west to east and south to north, try to keep people uninformed, disorganized, and living in fear - does that remind you of any situation you've experienced?

    Sarah and well meaning people like her, Afghan or non-Afghan, can take advantage of this brief period of relative "freedom" Afghans have in those areas where neither of warring parties have established full control of power. They can use this transient period to empower people of Afghanistan; people who have been down beaten and dragged in mud of war for the last 3 decades, thanks again to foreign gov'ts.

    I have witnessed places where long-term pressures, like war, poverty, and pure hunger had exhausted the population to a point of hopelessness. No amount of force or reasoning can make hopeless people to stand-up for themselves and demand the life that befits free humans in the 21st century.

    Any major issue that people of a locality face and need a resolution to can be a rallying cause to organize and empower people. This is the recipe any movement that became popular and achieved its goals has followed- think of sanitation workers' strike in the South as one of those sparks that started Civil Rights Movement here at home. Land reform, better work conditions, higher wages, access to potable water, electricity, adequate education, healthcare or public health, forming community centers, libraries and so on without fear of reprisals from corrupt officials are a few rallying issues that I can imagine.

    It is in the process of organizing and taking steps to address these demands, as a community and not just facing them individually, that the same downtrodden and hopeless people grow and flourish. That's how they learn ways to address social issues, realize their collective power, and gain a self confidence that can enable them withstand brute forces such as Taliban - or the warlords who want to control all of Afghanistan.

    I can only hope Sarah and other well meaning people realize that, no matter what the end result of current war, they have only a relatively short time and focus their efforts to empower Afghans to enable them withstand the deadly forces they have to deal with long after foreigners abandon their land.

    "Beyond our Differences" (airing Dec. 26th) is an impressive attempt to concoct a natural *sense* of agreement about what religion is.
    Your attempt to define religion and say what is and what is not authentically religious is more inherently a sociology argument than a religious one. As such, it cannot ultimately pass judgment on what is in fact out of its field and beyond its purview to judge. Why? Because God is God and may do something that you don't expect. No matter how hard you try to define religion to the contrary, it may in fact turn out that God can indeed work through armies and countries, as He did in the OT, and as He can still do today when men pray. So even though it is founded on good intentions of non-violence the seeking of authenticity in religion, the general thesis of the program ultimately fails.
    As a sign of the fact that you're not the final word, I note that there are absolutely no high Catholic clergymen in your lineup of experts (and Anglicans don't count). Why couldn't you get a Catholic bishop? Because no true Catholic would assent to your claims (or at least your implication) that (1) all religion is personal--rather than social--(2) the big culprit is 'organized religion'--rather than the devil, who corrupts both people and institutions--(3) that no religion can account for all the ways to relate to God and (4) that it's wrong and arrogant to simultanteously claim that you're right and others are wrong (Since we
    believe in an absolute Truth, not just incomplete, relative or partial ones).
    At heart, the problem is that the various religions are different in kind, and not even in the same genus, as G.K. Chesterton pointed out. One is truly a religion (of God), another is truly a philosophy (of man), another is a political-movement (of circumstances), and another is purely a racial struggle (of the flesh). So you cannot group them and generalize about all religions.

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2008/12/guest_blogger_sarah_chayes_on.html#more

    Thanks again to Bill Moyers for holding the magnifier to what is happening to people of another part of the world, all in our name.

    And many thanks to Sarah Chayes for trying to help out Afghans.

    Many previous commentators wrote about what our govt is doing in that god-forsaken country, what it should or should not do. Sarah also clearly demonstrated the desperation Afghans feel from being squeezed by both a corrupt US-installed gov't and the backward Pakistani-backed Taliban. She warned against negotiating with Taliban. Although I agree with her on that point, but what is implied from her interview is to rely on foreign forces to ward off Taliban. I disagree with that implication.

    No nation ever been liberated by outsiders unless able to govern themselves and run their affairs independently. I understand that may be interpreted as leaving Afghanistan to be taken over by Taliban and Pakistani agents. But consider the alternative: the current situation of foreign intervention and installation of a US-puppet govt that gradually but surely the people we "liberated" are turning against.

    Capitalist classes of countries that can support their ambitions for taking over markets beyond their borders have and will try to interfere in internatl affairs of those "market" countries. Afghanistan, like Iraq, is one of those markets.
    We can speculate and debate ad nauseum about why they invade or interfere in this or that country. That doesn't change much in the toll that people of those countries end up paying. Nor does it change the recourse.

    An informed, organized, and self-assured population can surmount any obstacle in time. That is why all anti-people gov'ts in the world, from west to east and south to north, try to keep people uninformed, disorganized, and living in fear - does that remind you of any situation you've experienced?

    Sarah and well meaning people like her, Afghan or non-Afghan, can take advantage of this brief period of relative "freedom" Afghans have in those areas where neither of warring parties have established full control of power. They can use this transient period to empower people of Afghanistan; people who have been down beaten and dragged in mud of war for the last 3 decades, thanks again to foreign gov'ts.

    I have witnessed places where long-term pressures, like war, poverty, and pure hunger had exhausted the population to a point of hopelessness. No amount of force or reasoning can make hopeless people to stand-up for themselves and demand the life that befits free humans in the 21st century.

    Any major issue that people of a locality face and need a resolution to can be a rallying cause to organize and empower people. This is the recipe any movement that became popular and achieved its goals has followed- think of sanitation workers' strike in the South as one of those sparks that started Civil Rights Movement here at home. Land reform, better work conditions, higher wages, access to potable water, electricity, adequate education, healthcare or public health, forming community centers, libraries and so on without fear of reprisals from corrupt officials are a few rallying issues that I can imagine.

    It is in the process of organizing and taking steps to address these demands, as a community and not just facing them individually, that the same downtrodden and hopeless people grow and flourish. That's how they learn ways to address social issues, realize their collective power, and gain a self confidence that can enable them withstand brute forces such as Taliban - or the warlords who want to control all of Afghanistan.

    I can only hope Sarah and other well meaning people realize that, no matter what the end result of current war, they have only a relatively short time and focus their efforts to empower Afghans to enable them withstand the deadly forces they have to deal with long after foreigners abandon their land.

    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2008/12/guest_blogger_sarah_chayes_on.html#more

    Thanks again to Bill Moyers for holding the magnifier to what is happening to people of another part of the world, all in our name.

    And many thanks to Sarah Chayes for trying to help out Afghans.

    Many previous commentators wrote about what our govt is doing in that god-forsaken country, what it should or should not do. Sarah also clearly demonstrated the desperation Afghans feel from being squeezed by both a corrupt US-installed gov't and the backward Pakistani-backed Taliban. She warned against negotiating with Taliban. Although I agree with her on that point, but what is implied from her interview is to rely on foreign forces to ward off Taliban. I disagree with that implication.

    No nation ever been liberated by outsiders unless able to govern themselves and run their affairs independently. I understand that may be interpreted as leaving Afghanistan to be taken over by Taliban and Pakistani agents. But consider the alternative: the current situation of foreign intervention and installation of a US-puppet govt that gradually but surely the people we "liberated" are turning against.

    Capitalist classes of countries that can support their ambitions for taking over markets beyond their borders have and will try to interfere in internatl affairs of those "market" countries. Afghanistan, like Iraq, is one of those markets.
    We can speculate and debate ad nauseum about why they invade or interfere in this or that country. That doesn't change much in the toll that people of those countries end up paying. Nor does it change the recourse.

    An informed, organized, and self-assured population can surmount any obstacle in time. That is why all anti-people gov'ts in the world, from west to east and south to north, try to keep people uninformed, disorganized, and living in fear - does that remind you of any situation you've experienced?

    Sarah and well meaning people like her, Afghan or non-Afghan, can take advantage of this brief period of relative "freedom" Afghans have in those areas where neither of warring parties have established full control of power. They can use this transient period to empower people of Afghanistan; people who have been down beaten and dragged in mud of war for the last 3 decades, thanks again to foreign gov'ts.

    I have witnessed places where long-term pressures, like war, poverty, and pure hunger had exhausted the population to a point of hopelessness. No amount of force or reasoning can make hopeless people to stand-up for themselves and demand the life that befits free humans in the 21st century.

    Any major issue that people of a locality face and need a resolution to can be a rallying cause to organize and empower people. This is the recipe any movement that became popular and achieved its goals has followed- think of sanitation workers' strike in the South as one of those sparks that started Civil Rights Movement here at home. Land reform, better work conditions, higher wages, access to potable water, electricity, adequate education, healthcare or public health, forming community centers, libraries and so on without fear of reprisals from corrupt officials are a few rallying issues that I can imagine.

    It is in the process of organizing and taking steps to address these demands, as a community and not just facing them individually, that the same downtrodden and hopeless people grow and flourish. That's how they learn ways to address social issues, realize their collective power, and gain a self confidence that can enable them withstand brute forces such as Taliban - or the warlords who want to control all of Afghanistan.

    I can only hope Sarah and other well meaning people realize that, no matter what the end result of current war, they have only a relatively short time and focus their efforts to empower Afghans to enable them withstand the deadly forces they have to deal with long after foreigners abandon their land.

    Betsy Toll: Capitalists engage in the wars having the most potential profit, or so has been U.S. history under corporate capitalism. Which should we engage? Well, our populace is becoming so imperiled by debt that the choice will soon be moot. Adventurous sadists will continue to be able to engage in violent warfare as mercenary employees of renegade enterprise and imperialist states (say China). Switzerland was impoverished in the 18th century but sold their young men as soldier-prostitutes to the highest bidder: Hence the so-called Hessians opposing the Continental army in the late 1770s.
    It was another form of human trafficking: Let's hope that is not our future, as imposed by our wealthy capitalist/fascist elite. Good questions Betsy Toll; hold the nukes Randy Newman!

    This begs the question of how many wars the US should fight. We duck this question all the time, but eventually we have to address it, if we feel the US has obligations to exert its military might around the world.

    And if this were agreed to be a universal good, then who makes this decision, who chooses whom we liberate, and whom we leave to their own fate? Are there open, transparent criteria? Who decides them?

    Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Venezuela -- and then there's Tibet, and Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand -- the list can go on and on and on. Is it our national mission to become one huge military machine, policing the world, forsaking all other values?

    Why is one war of choice or military adventure politically correct, urgent, and another not? Why is one people deserving of our passion and commitment, but others not?

    This is the horror world of "endless war", imposition of global order by force, everywhere. How do we justify leaving some nations on their own to sort out, however brutally, their own problems, while leaping in to expend vast amounts of blood and treasure for others?

    Have we failed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Yes, we have failed. Bitterly failed. So is our best response then to ramp up those efforts, expand those failures? Or best now to just nuke the whole world and get it over with?

    Perhaps then we could finally declare success: perhaps a dead planet would be safe for democracy.

    Or do we need to stop? Do we need to commit to zero more wars of choice, zero more pre-emptive invasions? Do we have the moral courage to make that commitment?

    We can pray in this new year that we find the courage to chart another way.

    Interesting Interview.

    I hope that you will be able to also bring in some guests that could shed some light on the travesty in Darfur, Sudan, Chad, etc...

    There are people suffering over there far worse than they are in Afghanistan. Or is that not as popular. If you look around there are also people suffering in Georgia, and many, many other places in the world.

    Why don't we have some dialog in regard to all these other places? Should we send troops and resources to all these other places as well, and then hear journalist broadcast about how we need to do more to bolster their economies and safety in those countries?

    We are fighting two wars, why not three? Isn't there somewhere else in the world that deserves our help just as we think Afgan and Iraq do? At what point would Americans stand up and say no more wars. Three, four, five, six, how many? At what point would Americans say it is not worth it? What about our own country?
    We are in the worse mess since the depression and things are getting worse, not better...while we talk about spending more money and sending more young boys to die...and for what.

    Could someone tell me why we are actually fighting in Afghanistan? I ask the question often and get no response...except "Well, we need to fight the Taliban." Why do we need to fight the Taliban? What does America gain from that, really?

    We don't have money to pay our own bills, and we are willing to borrow money to fight a war that will have no real effect on America in the end. I realize the people in Afghanistan suffer, but so do the people in Darfur, I don't see any troops over there, or even the DISCUSSION of it. Why not? Because this is all about politics I am afraid, and shows like the one I just saw only help to worsen this political means for war. If George Bush was talking about putting more troops in Afghanistan, the show I just saw would be more about the discussion if such a thing would be warranted, but since Bill Moyers is a democrat, he is happy to go along with the Obama mania. This is nothing more than propaganda, and it makes me sick to my stomach!

    We are suppose to be helping those in Afghanistan, right? How do you help someone by dropping bombs on their villages and then call it "collateral damage." This is just a joke. What if some Afgan troops were dispatched to your neighborhood and commandeered your house, saying "We need this structure, we are concerned about the homeless situation here in America, and we are turning your house into a refugee camp for the homeless." Meanwhile in Afghanistan the people get to hear news reports about how the Afgan army is single handedly whipping out the homeless problem in America. Would you mind giving up your house to the Afgan army for such a thing.

    Has the propaganda become so thick that we quit asking the important questions. I saw a broadcast from a very long time ago when I could hardly even recognize Bill Moyers, because he was so young. Bill spoke with much more fervor and discourse about events that seemed to lead America in a direction that did not support its best interests. And now, where is that fervor and discourse over the wickedness of war? Gone?

    Is everyone so content with Obama that these questions need not be asked anymore.

    Like I say, why don't we send troops into all the countries that could use our cluster bombs and then have this meaningless reports on how we need to actually do more. My God, haven't we done enough?

    I hope everyone in America has a very clear picture of what we stand to gain by sending our brothers and sisters into Afghanistan to die. Because I sure don't, and I follow news as much, if not more, than anyone I know. Democratize the middle east. What about the Democracy back in America, what about the state of our own republic as the government spies on us with programs like the patriot act? The patriot act I will remind everyone that Obama voted to renew.

    I fear we are at a very dangerous time in American history, as Obama has seemed to represent the grass roots movements of this country, yet I fear it is really business as usual...especially when you look at the appointments he has made as it pertains to war. What about the fact that he is leaving Sec. Gates in as Defense Sec. No president has ever done that, except Obama, and worse still Gates is a BUSH appointee. Does that not seem a little crazy to anyone else?

    What will happen to the dissenting voices that try to keep our country between the lines when it goes astray if they are all preaching the propaganda that Obama and his cronies are writing? We are at a very dangerous time.

    Wouldn't change represent less war, and not more war?

    I hope the majority of America, the ones that voted for Obama, can wake up and realize that change starts with doing things different, not adding more to the problem.

    What excuse could be given to Americans, that they would accept, to have a foreign army on our sovereign soul? I would guarantee there could be none!

    War, what is it good for?

    Great interview, keep up the great work Sarah. I hope Prez Obama will hear your requests.

    Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW)

    Statue of Liberty occupations
    On December 26, 1971, fifteen VVAW activists barricaded and occupied the Statue of Liberty for two days in a successful attempt to bring attention to the antiwar cause. Simultaneous protests took place across the country, such as at the historic Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia (for 45 minutes) and Travis Air Force Base in California (for 12 hours). Other VVAW members in California also briefly occupied the Saigon Government consulate in San Francisco. VVAW occupied the Statue of Liberty a second time in 1976 to bring renewed attention to veteran issues
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_Veterans_Against_the_War#Statue_of_Liberty_occupations

    I was at a christmas party this year listening to aggressive liberated American women do mid eastern war chants with their tounges, .disgusting behavior gyrating on thier mommy daddy money ,obviously never been any where near a war or made any real effort to do something for real people anywhere.
    It was a familiar wave of ignorance similar to the frat waves that greeted the vietnam war home. I realize now that right and left were being lied to indifferent ways each believing they had the right answer The old hind sight trick rears its ugly truth.

    I would have dismissed the argument we should not negotiate with the Taliban if it were not someone living in Afghanistan who makes it.

    However, the only military officials who say the war can be won are Americans -- and not all of them. British officials admit the war can be prolonged but cannot be won against a well armed guerrilla supported by the population and I trust them rather than the Americans.

    So, if the war cannot be won, what then?

    Improving governance is essential, but, how can one do it? Replace Karzai with another, less corrupt and less weak president? If NATO did it, how would that go down with Afghani people and how would that echo in the international arena? The world would be heard laughing any time the West speaks of democracy (most of the world already does, of course).

    Replace the governors? If that were possible, Dostum would not be there, but he will not go down without fighting. Is NATO prepared to fight him -- in addition to the Taliban? I don't think so.

    So, what is left? I do not think there is an optimal solution. The choice is between ugly solutions -- but NATO should have not been involved to start with. NATO should have disappeared alongside the Warsaw Pact.

    If NATO withdrew, it will be clear for all to see which side the Pashtun are. Will they support the Taliban or fight them? If Ms. Chayes is right, they will choose to fight, and may win, with the support of the West. But until we are out this clarification will not take place. We must leave Afghanistan.

    Thank god,someone finally understands the dire problems in Afghanistan.Sarah Chayes is puting her life on the line to bring justice to Afghanistan-I WISH HER Merry Christmas and a happy new year with alot of success.It is time the US government listen to her and actually include her in making decisions about Afghan operations as she is a real worker in the field as opposed to so many armchair experts blowing hotair in Washington ,DC.ALSO IT IS HIGH TIME,we stop giving any kind of support to the Pakistani regime.Pakistan is country where it is state policy to practice terrorism and we have witnessed this in action in India,Kashmir,and Afghanistan and Sarah is absolutely right in obseving that Pakistan created the Taliban to take over Afghanistan by proxy.The ISI AND THE PAKISTANI REGIME must be stopped before it is too late which would make 911 pale in comparison.We all need to wakeup now and urge our government and Congress to use all means to defeat the Taliban.Alqaeda and the Pakistani secret powers behind them.Enough is enough and we be resolute.We also need to urge our government to be serious about fighting corruption in the Afghan government as this problem is eroding our credibility with the Afghan people and the international community.We should empower young educated Afghans to serve their country by couching and training them and we should disempower the warlords and the religios groups.This will help us alot in regaining our credibility in the world and all our money and efforts would not be wasted.Go Sarah and more power to you!!Thanks Bill for this program -happy holidays and happy new year.Almond

    I find it interesting that people who suggest that we continue to fight the war in Afghanistan do not suggest that Americans enlist into the U.S. Armed Forces. Our troops are suffering in Afghanistan because they don't have enough comrades in arms, and the U.S. military is stretched nearly to its breaking point.

    We need 400,000 troops in Afghanistan to win, but the Army does not have nearly that much available, so we will lose. People who truly want us to win control of Afghanistan—a region that has never been properly conquered by even the most brutal conquerors—might at least ask young, healthy people to enlist. If an advocate of the Afghan War is unwilling to do that, then he or she is unwilling to make a credible argument for staying in Afghanistan.

    I wish the network media would have posed Sarah Chayes story to Bush, Cheney and Rice, who ignored the systemic and demoralizing problems the Afghans face every day at the hands of the government power structure. What would they say? Main street media has failed us and the Afghan people by focusing solely on the Iraqi war and the Bush administration's unholy partnership with the previous Pakistani regime.

    We, in most cases, are listening, S.C. Let us hope the new president, rumored to be a good listener, is listening.

    Keep talking.

    MS Chayes: Watching your interview with Bill Moyers I was impressed that, here at last, was a voice of calm, informed reason. The situation in Afghanistan has frightening similarities to our misadventures in Viet Nam and Iraq (just to mention two in a long line). I hope that the Obama administration will be aware of and take into consideration your arguments and suggestions. I particularly favor your suggestion to involve experts in civil infrastucture to aid the Afghans.

    I will address my views recommending your advice to the Obama administration and the Congress.

    MS Chayes: Watching your interview with Bill Moyers I was impressed that, here at last, was a voice of calm, informed reason. The situation in Afghanistan has frightening similarities to our misadventures in Viet Nam and Iraq (just to mention two in a long line). I hope that the Obama administration will be aware of and take into consideration your arguments and suggestions. I particularly favor your suggestion to involve experts in civil infrastucture to aid the Afghans.

    I will address my views recommending your advice to the Obama administration and the Congress.

    Why are we considering negotiating with Taliban? Because we don't want to be there for another fifty years.

    I listened to Ms. Chayes, read her follow-up and many of the blogs.

    Follow the money. Buy the entire poppy crop for the next ten years, with strings attached to how the money is spent by the poppy farmers.

    Require every major national and regional Afghan official to have a shadow professional working with him or her, starting with Greg Mortensen at Karzai's side. S

    et up a special corruption court with witness anonymity; set the punishment to fit the crime according to Singapore standards.

    But the toughest nut of all to crack is Islam. I do not have an answer for that short of what Pol Pot did in Cambodia: Declare Afghanistan to be a secular state and shoot anyone who disagrees. As K. Marx opined, the twin roots of all evil are greed and religion. He focused mostly on greed, probably because religion was even more intractable.

    It would be nice if our high mucki-mucks would listen to someone who knows what they are talking about. So far we are batting one thousand when it comes to the wrong response.
    "Ye", the right response for the situation.
    Dave

    Does this apply to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the Middle East?

    - It has always been true that the men who were defending Western ideals were bound to be in alliance with men who intended to defend only Western interests. (Henry Butterfield)

    http://hnn.us/roundup/comments/56120.html

    Thank you Sarah for all your efforts in bringing justice to Afghanistan.I am an Afghan-American who is educated in both countries and wholeheartedly attest that Sarah Chayes understands well the problems facing Afghanistan and the international community.Let's all wish her much success in this very difficult job-she is very brave in living in Kandahar to help the oppressed Afghan women.Alot of evil has arisen from Afghanistan over many centuries and you all noticed it here on 911.All freedom loving people have a responsibility to rid Afghanistan of its many evil and fanatic groups.The Afghan people have endured this evil system that was imposed there by Arab forces in the 7th century AD for 1400 years now-the Afghan women and children ask how long must this continue??!!Please American citizens,ask our government and the congress to stop empowering the corrupt Afghan officials and the religios and warlord groups and instead to empower ordinary Afghans who are willing to serve their people honestly with freedom and demodracy- and there are alot of Afghans who are willing and eager to serve with justice-we just need to empower these.Sarah if you are reading this email.please , write me back as i want to network with people like you-we need to work together so we all be more effective.Thank you.Kanishka

    Sarah Chayes is the reason I got interested in helping Afghan women and children in 2002. She is not only brilliant - she has an insight and advice that should be listened to. She is right - the Afghan people have been pawns in this game - and they should be higher in the scale. When others saw barefoot women in burkas held back by their husbands, I saw barefoot women standing in the snow with their babies, and their frantic husbands trying to find help for their families. these are people just like us - they want the best for their children and their families. They need more help in the civil realm and her idea of a Senior Peace Corps to help is excellent and I will bring it up at the next 'seat at the table' meeting I attend. she is amazing!

    American foreign policy over the years consistently shoots itself in the foot and kicks itself in the ass, and is in a perpetual state of disaster. Afghanistan is no different. The USA is continuously trying to clean up after itself. Such a deal.
    The people of Afghanistan have to endure a murderous group of truly barbaric heathens called the Taliban. How do you negotiate with the ultimate evil ?

    Sarah Chayes

    I believe that violence and war are always evil, but you are right that at times it may still be necessary as doing nothing would be a greater evil.

    I do not know if this country should have engaged in WWII. That war to a great extent has been whitewashed in this country. Corporations and banks played both sides in the conflict. The atomic bombings were obviously unjustified.

    But what is the justification of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan? I repeat again as many do not seem to understand this-There is no evidence Osama Bin Laden was involved in 9/11, and the Taliban offered to give him up anyway if evidence was produced. Obviously the motive for the invasion was not to get Bin Laden. What is the justification? There is none. It is pure imperialism.

    As fortold by some of our own comrades -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPMT-2p8NBU

    (800K views on this one! -that's the pop size of Qandahar, Herat, Jalalabad and Mazer- e- sariff combined!)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Passage_to_Bangkok

    Lyrics: A Passage to Bangkok, Rush 2112 (that's 4 years away comrades)

    Our first stop is in bogota
    To check columbian fields
    The natives smile and pass along
    A sample of their yield
    Sweet jamaican pipe dreams
    Golden acapulco nights
    Then morocco, and the east,
    Fly by morning light

    Were on the train to bangkok
    Aboard the thailand express
    Well hit the stops along the way
    We only stop for the best

    Wreathed in smoke in lebanon
    We burn the midnight oil
    ***The fragrance of afghanistan
    Rewards a long days toil*** pulling into katmandu
    Smoke rings fill the air
    Perfumed by a nepal night
    The express gets you there

    It looks like Afghanistan and it's people have a long and dangerously difficult road ahead. Perhaps if Amerca got out of the way, they would get there sooner by finding there own way.

    Why are we there anyway?

    =
    MJA

    All those "ya know's" on todays show made Bill look quisical.

    I see no real bright star here and of course the road to hell is paved with "good intentions" and Sarah proclaiming to have "moved in" the same time as the taliban idiot left town seems ... curious - to be um - polite...

    I would like Sarah to comment on how operations such as this aptly named albatross (if one can even believe they would "code name" this as that)

    http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr061308a.html

    - "helps" - does she believe that afghanistan citizens shouldn't be allowed to enjoy their own cultural version of reality and plants?

    People in wise countries like Holland may have paid good money for something which the united states in many states has laws for it's medical use and everybody else on the planet knows what a joke the illegalized cannabis story is - but not the peasants in afghanistan -this was for their own good. This is somehow tied into terrorism and the also frighteningly scarry opium "problem" cause ya know ya know that's a special deal we "let" the indian's have a monopoly on (except that it grows legally all over the united states also - you just aren't allowed to bite into the pods or make a tea out of it). The u.s. the largest importer of "opium" in the world by the way.

    Always a side show. 262 tons at 5 bucks a gram in Holland (or more) I get about 250 million dollars that could have helped some poor afghani farmers buy some clothes etc...

    No keep prices high on a product that reduces domestic violence (ergo mostly violence against women). So it's do as we say not as we do. That's great - I predict huge success.

    Also, the Russians didn't leave because they had to, they left becasue they aren't stupid and have enough land and natural resources that all they have to do is sit back and watch the u.s. squirm. I predict they soon will be able to "outspend us" like we allegedly did to them via an arms race (which we all need more of) -to cause the break up of the soviet union - which if I was a thinking russian - would have liked to shed those pounds anyways!

    Obama's first albatross- Or should states like California re legalize this plant and tax sales of it to pay for schools just like the afghanis might have wanted to do?

    No way - look at the social decay that would result - just like it did a hundred years ago when your great grandparents were sucked into such a terrible addictive poison they barely could raise their offspring - afghanistan peasants need to understand this so please contectualize this Sarah, I'd really appreciatte it since you love the military help that's on it's way -or so you allude to but with a disclaimer about "one-size-fits-all fallacy thinking".

    Great to see Sarah Chayes discussing Afghanistan on the Journal again. Hers is a rare voice, steeped in direct cultural knowledge (including the Pashtun language she speaks) and historical knowledge. I wish our officials listened in earnest to people like her.

    It's true, I think, that from the start in 2001, we allied ourselves with people as ruthless and thuggish as any of the Taliban members we had supported prior to 9/11. The Northern Alliance (many of whose top members ended up in the Karzai administration) became our allies. Assorted warlords and criminals filled the vacuum of power. This has never, as Chayes suggests, been rectified, and it has exponentially driven up recruits into the Taliban.

    Her proposed solution of cleaning up corruption and getting infrastructure experts involved in administering services (electricity, water etc.) are at best partial, though. Things have gotten to a point where solutions (if there are any ) will have to be more comprehensive than that. The conflicts in Afghanistan have taken on a life of their own and will not disappear even if corruption is attenuated. The fundamentalist elements within the Taliban are considerable, and they are not willing to accommodate the Karzai Gov't or some other propped up US proxy state. We're in over our heads.
    I would welcome any suggestions--other than leaving the region-- on how to quell or defeat those ISI-backed militants who basically run the roost in the Tribal Regions of Pakistan and the Afghan border regions, and are intent on bringing US/Nato backed forces to their knees.

    A thousand thanks Sarah for taking the time to respond and for your advice to "...consider that one-size-fits-all is poor policy, no matter what size it is"

    The mention of Rwanda - and if I might add the Dafur, Nepal, and Zimbabwe are a few examples of many situations where dire humanitarian crisis are ignored, or paid only lip service, and offered very minimal actual support from the US government because there are no interests in these lands that directly benefit the predator class. The predator class who owns and controls the US government are not concerned about humanitarian issues. So the US government that is owned and controlled by the predator class does support engagements for humanitarian reasons or ends. US military interventions are driven by economic and political demands and goals. Though message-force multipliers mass market humanitarian justifications, these deceptions cloak the ultimate ends which are entirely economic and political and serve primarily the interests of the predator class.

    The one-size-fits-all admonition applies to theleft and theright as well. Many on theleft do not align with those who believe it is possible that there can be peace on earth and good will towards men. Sadly war and warmaking is as deeply entrenched in the DNA of humanity, as love and lovemaking.

    The critical issue for me is not warmaking in and of itself, (which I believe is an affliction that will always plague humanity)- but the fundamental reasons, causes, and goals for engaging in wars.

    Should the people tolerate and burden the terrible costs in blood and treasure for wars and warmaking that benefit economic and political interests of the predator class exclusively?

    Your comments were insightful. It appears as though there is some change coming, a Canadian academic, born in Kanadhar has taken over as governor there. He comes with a background in rural development, agricultures, etc. Can that make a difference?

    I'd like to thank all of you for writing in. And I'll rapidly answer a couple of your notes, which I feel can be addressed in less than several thousand words.

    1. Of course the Taliban are not entirely monolithic. But those who are "reconcilable," to use a current catchword, would "come in" if the Afghan government were tolerable. You wouldn't need to engage in a formal negotiating process to make that happen, unless to set conditions under which they would not be liable for prosecution!

    2. One documentary was done on me, it was called alternatively "Life After War" (Sundance Channel) and "A House for Hajji Baba." (Frontline/World). It was produced in 2002. And I think you would be astounded at how the issues it reveals echo everything I discussed with Bill. It was all there to behold, back in 2002 -- for anyone who was watching.

    3. Beware of ideologies, even those of the "left." To suggest that any military intervention of any kind, anywhere in the world, for any reason, is evil and ill-begotten is just as ideological as to mechanically favor pre-emptive invasion as a solution to major international problems. Please. Use your intelligences. Different cases in different countries and historical periods are different and require different responses. If Pearl Harbor had not been bombed, should we not have engaged in World War II, for example? What about Rwanda? Shouldn't there have been a more robust international military intervention there? I am not comparing Afghanistan to those cases, I am just saying that distinctions need to be made, including between Iraq and Afghanistan. While I was strongly opposed to the war in Iraq, and while I thought that having made the decision to prosecute it, there were ways to have prosecuted it that would have been much less disasterous than the way we did, I would not wish to discourse on the best way, now, to disengage. I simply don't know enough, as much as I may read and think about it. I would urge you all to consider that one-size-fits-all is poor policy, no matter what size it is.

    4. I must say that in my experience in Afghanistan, I have encountered a higher proportion of military officers who are acting in genuinely good faith, who are throwing themselves to the best of their ability and with rather little compensation, into efforts to improve the situation of people half a world away, than many "humanitarians," who are not without their share of corruption and careerism. This isn't to say the military, both institutionally and individually, hasn't gotten it wrong, often, sometimes with devastating effect. But I have been impressed by the motivations and good faith efforts of a great many of the US and NATO officers I have encountered.

    Shaw

    That's a very important and very difficult question. I wish I knew the answer. And I wish Bill Moyers would commit more time to that question. But I do have a few ideas.

    1.Spread information. With economic troubles, endless wars, and more and more obvious violations of our laws, people may be more interested in actually thinking about things, and in information they normally would not be. This information can be spread through simply talking, books, radio programs, and of course the internet. Different methods of distribution will be more effective with different people.

    2.Non-compliance. The powers that be only do what we allow them to. Paying federal income tax is in my view both immoral and illegal. Don't join the military or law enforcement, and encourage others not to as well. As much as possible, stay out of the corporate system. Don't be bullied.

    3.Contact "Representatives"
    While they aren't going to end the war because you ask them to, some might take notice of a large movement.

    Protesting is another method, but I'm not certain of its merits.

    I consider the spread of information the most important tool for real change. Too many people operate under either ignorance or propaganda.

    If you track back to when Karzai first start "wooing" the Bush administration - warnings went up all over the place over the fact that he was corrupt and would do Anything to gain power- including let the Taliban back in.

    Another case of reality being ignored while our government tried to fulfill it's fantasy. We should not be surprised that the Karzai regime is corrupt - nor that the Taliban are making new headway. Every country that has fought in Afghanistan has left the country in more devestating condition and turmoil after realizing they can't win.

    History repeats......

    It seems that all the people who posted are pretty much on the same sheet of music in regards to the imperialistic state of our government. TonyForesta's term "predator class" is as accurate description of the people who truly rule this country and "our" elected "representatives". It is not correct to ask how do “we the people” take our country back, for we have never had it. So I ask each one of you, how do we take ownership of our country? For me this is the root of all our most urgent problems. How do we show ourselves en masse in solidarity to voice our command? How?

    These questions assume the US government is operating under good faith, and has merely made mistakes.

    9/11 was an inside job. The invasion of Afghanistan was planned well in advance.

    The government wants war, not peace.

    Ms. Chayes says '"reconciliation" with Taliban, at the level at which exploration is now underway, will involve some kind of power-sharing.'

    I would like to ask Ms. Chayes if
    1. there could be different types of Taliban, it might not be a monolithic organization

    2. there could exist moderate Taliban

    3. that negotiating with Taliban does not necessarily mean empowering them; negotiation can be a means to divide the Taliban psychologically and weaken their leadership

    War is not the solution. War is the goal. Ask any arms manufacturer or dealer. Their lobbyists, of course, will couch it in more moralistic raiment.

    The U.S. government will not be trusted anywhere in the world (including Main Street USA) for many generations to come unless we start raising up the downtrodden anywhere and everywhere we can.

    Clean up your act America! reestablish transparency and the highest standards of ethical behavior in all the public offices in the land. Accept nothing less!

    Recall Nancy Pelosi among others for dereliction of duty.

    Take NOTHING of our Constitution "off the table". EVER.

    While in no way diminishing the great and courageous work of Ms Chayes, - humanitarian efforts are of no concern to the US government in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else on earth, including here in America.

    The predator class, which owns and controls the government is bent on expropriating and dominating wealth and political power exclusively. What little lip service, and meager resources are applied to humanitarian efforts are deceptive, selfserving, and manipulative.

    Expecting the predator class which owns and controls the US government to apply any real resources to humanitarian efforts is delusional. The government/predator class message-force multipliers talk about these things on TV, but as her article and your video vividly prove, - in practical application the government/predator class is working in entirely different seemingly contrapuntal ways and means to achieve the geopolitical ends, - which have absolutely NOTHING to do with any humanitarian concerns or interests.

    All the various evil regimes, warlords, tyrants, despots, crime syndicates, - are the government/predator class allies or freedom fighters one day, and enemies or evildoers the next totally dependent on political and economic expediency. Any cursory perusal of history proves this terrible truth.

    The point being, it is fruitless and delusion to imagine the government/predator class operating in any meaningful way to advance humanitarian interests.

    Has anyone done a documentary on Sarah Chayes? What an impressive, fascinating person! I've now seen her on Bill Moyers twice and last night the conversation went by way too fast for me to follow the fratricidal craziness she reeled off. Moyers himself was having trouble keeping up! I'd like to hear/see Chayes in a format more resembling a lecture on a very complex subject that the American public really needs to get its collective head around. Can this happen?

    Max: I don't think they (Power and Chayes) sound alike. They certainly don't behave alike. Chayes is doing her thing for development, not profit. She risks her life and begs for assistance for others.

    What have you done for others lately, Max. Are you activist or only a pundit. We need co-operatives and worker owned and run enterprises in this country too.

    Are you a dancing chicken working for a corporate daddy, Max. Hey, turn up the burner on Max's hotplate. And Bojangles sadisticly asks:"Why is this chicken so-o-o happy?"

    Why Does Sarah sound like Samantha Powers - the self-righteous humanitarian interventionist - who think military force is an acceptable means to the end of some hell-bent notion of human rights?

    As soon as Saharh responded affirmatively to Bill's question about Obama planning to increase troop levels, I knew this was being framed in the same way that all Empire transplants have done for centuries.

    Sarah has a cooperative and she wants that business no doubt to thrive. She may have good intentions, but the narrative leads to endless blood drenching as it unfolds.

    The US has a history of intervening. Whether one group prefers to see it as a means of bringing human rights or freedom to the indigenous people, the US Power Structure has no such intention. Be very sure of that.

    Neither we nor the Afghans can afford the kind of "cure" that Saharh and her ilk think will "save the day".

    We are thinking about “inflicting” the Taliban on the Afghan people because we are losing the Afghanistan War, and it's not a matter of inflicting--it's a matter of surrendering. It's not a solution to the problem because we have no credible way to punish the Taliban if they continue to harbor al-Qaeda.

    While it's easy to see “normal” Afghans as wanting to have a respectful, open form of government, not all people who want freedom have it; in many cases, the peoples' desire for freedom is crushed under the boots of soldiers, and that is what is happening in Afghanistan. If the Afghan people want freedom from the Taliban, they will have to fight the Taliban to get it; the United States--a rapidly declining oil empire--will have little power to help them.

    The Taliban have nearly unlimited patience; that is one of the things that make them such a formidable adversary.

    What sadness! I am speechless. Why do our leaders do everything the wrong way?

    Sarah, it was so good to see you on here again and still with the courage to speak the sensible truth.

    “Klark” who posted before me touched on most of what I would say, but I will add that it is not a surprise to any that pay attention that the Afghans are between a rock and a hard place. And, like you, I am horrified when I hear “negotiation” spoken about the Taliban. Don’t the ones speaking that know what they did to the women?

    I am hoping that you get a chance to speak with Obama about Afghanistan and that he has the sense to listen to you! I am going to send the link to this show to everyone I know and encourage them to send it on to Obama, just like I’m going to do now. He needs this input, if he doesn’t have it already....

    Thank you and stay safe, Sarah!

    Thank you Bill!

    I don't think Sarah Chayes sees a war, but competing occupations. The Russians had to leave after it became a war. The Afghan people and their strategic land are a valuable commodity for which outsiders are competing. Even the government the U.S. installed has become an occupying parasite.

    When we Americans meet our political leaders we are polite and patient and expect them to listen to us. When Sarah and her Afghan friends meet their leaders it is very much the same. We are only a little higher on the hog so to speak. People in peril resort to the basest affiliations, a group to stabilize things and protect their lives. This is the tribalism Sarah describes. Such desperation can happen to westerners: witness Yugoslavia. We have exported our corrupt practices and not democracy. Our corporate business seeks a strong client to hold them down while we do it to them. As our economy collapses our human rights and stability will backslide. If we can't help Afghanis become self-sufficient and legitimately self-governing in short order we are next. You will then need to obey your warlord to get food or a job. It's just that simple. We have to become mature caring citizens here and there simultaneously. Good egalitarian democratic Globalism:Bad corporate hierarchical Globalism? It's your choice. But don't negotiate with outlaws, corporate or taliban.

    This is in large part why we lost in Vietnam. If Musharraf was pulling our chain, it seems Zardari is in no better position.

    I wonder why this administration thinks we can win a war there when the Soviet Union couldn't in all their years there.

    Like Iraq, Afghanistans' citizens are of absolutely zero concern to the US predator class, oligachs, or government, and will have no say in how the future of their nation is developed.

    Also, like Iraq, -Afghanistan and the socalled neverendingwaronterror against the evildoer de jour - is actually ALL ABOUT THE OIL.

    The US geopolitical designs and machinations in the region are bent on caging in Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India, and China militarily (through cross purpose military agreements and increased military presense in South Asia and South Caucasus).

    While blandisments of liberation democratization, and defeating evildoers may be entertaining, - the bruting is a distraction masking the construction and securing of a gas and energy corridor through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan bypassing Russia.

    The US is using the "rubric" or the masquarade of increased US military presense in Afghanistan and the necessary "support" presense, logistic infrastructure, and air rights and power along critical supply routes into Afghanistan as a backhanded means to control oil and natural gass flows out of the Caspian.

    The real negotiatons with the Taliban will involve security and financial agreements concerning future oil distribution routes, - and not the best interests of Afghan people, or any people anywhere on earth.

    Decisions of war and peace are always made by the predator class, for the predator class with absolutely no concern the people of any nation as more than soldiers or consumers, - in Afghanistan, like Iraq, - it's all about the oil.

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