"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


this & that


Anonymous fpfj said...

Okay, here's the thing. There is no single entity that is the Taliban. I think it's easiest to think of them like this:

Al Qaeda: Foreigners taking advantage of lawlessness. Probably not able to buy them off. They'll move somewhere else while Afghanistan is lawless.

Afghan Ideological Taliban: Not going to be able to buy them off. They're motivated by ideals. There aren't that many of them. They can be defeated.

Everyday Taliban: They want jobs and the assurance that they have a place at the table. They should be part of the reconciliation process. Many of them in the south are frustrated by the haphazard military techniques (alternately attacking and abandoning villages) and lack of opportunity. There are alot of them and they can be dis-armed and reintegrated to the culture.

I know I haven't offered any citations (let's leave that for another day) but I've worked in Afghanistan and have studied it.

Friday, October 30, 2009 7:48:00 PM

Blogger Charlie Mac said...

Similar pictures could also taken from thousands of places in the world, even in the US.

Actually the first thought that jumped into my crazy mind was this was I-10 just west of El Paso, TX as it swings close to Anapra, MX.
Charlie Mac

Sunday, November 01, 2009 5:58:00 AM

Blogger dcat said...

As for the PS picture: Actually, I'd argue that it is NOT that telling specifically because it does not take into account change over time. Anyone who spent time in South Africa in the period from, say, 1994-2000 and the period since can tell you the dramatic difference in the number of informal settlements. Yes, that picture is still appalling, but it is also static. A full picture of the highways outside of Cape Town and their relationship to settlements looked far worse in 1997 than it does now. South Africa has a long way to go, but it is fatuous (nah, screw that -- it's just plain disingenuous) to imply that things have not changed.


Monday, November 02, 2009 9:26:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, if foreign forces leave, most of the hospitals will shut down before long, either because the Taliban close them and the doctors flee, or because they are abandoned by skittish aid organizations and run out of money.

FPFJ is correct to break the insurgency into subsets. The ideological Taliban are a gang (several gangs, actually) of genocidal (Yes, genocidal --there's a reason Iran nearly invaded in 1998), misogynist fanatics who cannot and will not run even a minimal state. Though a protracted military campaign is unpalatable, letting the Taliban retake even half the country should be seen as a non-option. It would have disastrous humanitarian consequences for Afghanistan and for its neighborhood of weak states.

The everyday Taliban are a different story. As FPFJ said, they can be disarmed and reintegrated if given real opportunities. The phenomenon of the "Taliban-by-the-hour" can definitely be reduced by creating jobs.

And, of course, the Taliban aren't the only problem. Most of Afghanistan's many non-Taliban warlords are not much better, and some as just as bad. A collapse would mean militias re-arming and going at each other all over the country. Last time, a million people died.

It should be emphasized that none of the above actors has appeal with more than 10% of the population.

The current situation sucks, and alternatives need to be devised, but certain options do need to be off the table.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009 9:23:00 AM


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