zundel

Tuesday 343

Effective janissaries for NATO

Filed under: Politics — Tags: — zundel @ pm

Letter from Pashmul: Policing Afghanistan” by Graeme Wood in The New Yorker 2008-12-08

It is also a classic counter-insurgency gambit.

“It’s a common tactic in irregular warfare situations to pit the rivalries of an ethnically diverse populace against each other.” The difficulty is finding a way to avoid unleashing a dispossessed minority on a rampage of revenge against the group it is asked to control.

cf Rawanda

European use of privileged local minorities in colonial Africa contributed to the continent’s most destructive post-colonial wars, including the Rwandan genocide.

No NATO officer I met seemed to appreciate the full significance of the Hazara-Pashtun rivalry.

Seeing a weapon triggered the rules of engagement, and we ran toward the position. … We leaped over an irrigation ditch, and, when I looked up to make sure I was still running in the right direction, I saw the soldier again. He had his grenade-launcher in one hand and, in the other, a colossal bunch of grapes, which he had started to eat. By the time we arrived at the place where the surveillance had spotted the insurgents, the Taliban had long since vanished back into the surrounding villages. As we stood in the empty Taliban position, I noticed that most of the Afghan soldiers carried grapes that they had picked up during the maneuver, and that they looked pleased.

Ah yes, the familiar experience of ‘helping’ locals with counter­insurgency. It’s a job, not a mission. The Taliban came to power, and returns to power, because not enough chose to oppose them.

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