War will not work in Afghanistan. I cannot believe that American mothers are happy for their sons to die in such a pointless war.

I have been reading some history of Afghanistan over the past few days. The period after the Soviet invasion at the beginning of the eighties is intriguing. During their occupation, the Russians killed between half and two million Afghanis. It is not surprising that they were hated.

The mujahedeen rose in rebellion, but their situation was futile until the gained support from the Pakistan security services (ISI). They became more effective when the CIA and MI6 started training the mujahedeen and Saudi Arabia funded weapons imported from China.

One important development was the International Brigade, a group of young Moslems from all over the Middle East who came to support the Afghans in their struggle against the Russians. They were trained and equipped by the CIA. Among them was Osama bin Laden, who came from Yemen. He was trained by CIA operatives to fight against the Russians.

The turning point in the war came when the US supplied stinger missile launcher to the Mujahideen and ISI operatives trained them how to use them. This neutralised the Russian fighter and helicopter support, which had given them superiority. Within a couple of years, the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan and the Soviet Union collapsed.

After the war, most of the International Brigade left Afghanistan and become key fighters in hotspots all over the Middle East. Osama bin Laden remained in Afghanistan and started Al Qaida. Training your enemies is really clever.

I am not sure why the United State is now fighting in Afghanistan. I presume they are supporting democracy, but western democracy does not work in a place with such diverse cultures.

Afghanistan is divided through the middle by high mountains at the western end of the Himalayas. The people to the north of the mountains are Tajik and directly related to the people in the north. The people to the south are the Pashtun. During the nineteenth century, when Russia was pushing south, the British were worried about the security of the Indian empire. They created Afghanistan as a buffer between the Russian and British empires by pushing two different tribal groups into one nation.

Worse still the boundary between Afghanistan and the Indian empire left half of the Pashtun people on the British side in what is now Pakistan. Putting the border right through the middle of a people group is not clever and is one reason why Pakistan is so unstable today.

The government of Afghanistan that was set up after the war with Russia is dominated by Tajik warlords who fought against Russia too. Many of them are corrupt, some are drug dealers and others are enriching themselves by creaming of the foreign aid money. The Pashtun, who are the largest people group in Afghanistan, are mostly excluded from the government. I do not understand why the United States and Britain are fighting to support a corrupt government that allows one tribal group to profit at the expense another. That policy will never produce peace.

Some Americans think that they are fighting against Al Qaida. The problem is that the Taliban is not the same as Al Qaida. Al Qaida consisted of only a few hundred people and almost none of them were Afghans. Most of those few hundred people are now dead or have escaped through Pakistan. The centre of gravity of Al Qaida has now moved west to Iraq and beyond, so Al Qaida cannot be defeated in Afghanistan.

The Taliban is totally different from Al Qaida. It is a Pashtun movement that emerged during the war with the Soviet Union when the Russians were attempting to impose atheism onto Afghani culture. The Afghans were mostly only cultural Moslems, but they did not want to be atheists. The Taliban became more fundamentalist as their resistance to the atheistic Russians hardened.

The Taliban protected Al Qaida while they were useful to their cause, but the Pashtuns are independent people who do not want to be ruled by foreign Arabs any more than they wanted to be ruled by Russians or Tajiks.

The Taliban have grown in popularity in the southern part of Afghanistan for three reasons.

The Taliban is not a nice group and I would not like to be under their control. However, there are nasty religious groups exist all over the world, but that is not a reason to go to war. Religious movements cannot be changed by Thunderbolt fighters and Hawk helicopters. Afghanistan is a desolate place with very little strategic value. I cannot understand what the American military expects to achieve there. This is another war that will not work.

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