Thursday, December 18, 2008

the American foreign policy establishment's War On Human Nature continues

Belatedly, I want to express outrage upon reading Graeme Wood's story in the New Yorker about US Afghanistan policy. Basically, the story chronicles the US's tactic of having ethnic minority Hazara police officers patrol predominantly Pashtun, Taliban-dominated regions of the country:

Hazaras are mostly Shia, with a history of ties to Iran, whereas most Pashtuns are Sunni and have turned to Pakistan for support. Over the past century, the two peoples have fought periodically, and the Hazaras, who are thought to make up between nine and nineteen per cent of Afghanistan's population--the Pashtuns make up nearly half--have usually lost. On the border between the Hazara heartland, in the country's mountainous and impoverished center, and the Pashtun plains in the south and east, conflicts over grazing land are common. But, working alongside NATO soldiers, Hazara police units are now operating far to the south of these traditional battlegrounds and deep into Pashtun territory.

If this is our Afghanistan policy, we should just turn around and go home now before we get somebody killed. I mean, seriously? Pitting regional ethnic groups against each other... has this ever produced a good outcome in a country in human history? Usually what it produces is Rwanda, whether the favored minority group gets the business end of a genocide at the first opportunity. This is guaranteed to make the overall situation in Afghanistan worse, no matter what short term security guarantees can be arranged. It's also guaranteed to help drive the Pashtuns further into the arms of the Taliban and extremists in Pakistan who have historically backed the Pashtuns in Afghanistan.

American and NATO forces can beat any army in combat, but they can't beat human nature. And in Afghanistan, they won't, not with a strategy like this. I'm appalled.

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