Monday, September 13, 2010

A bit of sense

According to The Daily Telegraph today (a lot of Telegraph today, but that's the way the cookie crumbles), a senior former American national security adviser, Robert Blackwill, has warned that the Taliban are "winning" and the foreign forces are "losing" in Afghanistan. He thinks that the country should be partitioned along ethnic lines by pulling back NATO forces to deal with the problem.

Blackwill, who was Condolezza Rice's deputy as National Security Adviser in 2003 to 2004, will reportedly deliver a speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think tank in London on Monday, urging President Barack Obama to make changes in the war's objectives.

He further stated that the surge of forces launched in 2009 to stabilise Afghanistan was "high likely" to fail and that the death toll in the conflict was too high a price to pay. "The Taliban are winning, we are losing. They have high morale and want to continue the insurgency. Plan A is going to fail. We need a Plan B," is saying. "Let the Taliban control the Pashtun south and east, the American and allied price for preventing that is far too high," he adds.

According to Blackwill, the US should only seek to defend those areas dominated by Afghanistan's Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities by pulling out of bases in the south.

This is a start. It is about the most intelligent thing that has been said on Afghanistan for a while. As a solution, it is highly problematic, not least because it would not stop there. The new Pashtunistan would then immediately demand abolition of the Durand line frontier and re-integration with the FATA and Northwest frontier areas, thus putting Pakistan on the rack.

It would also upset India, which would not necessarily be able to use Afghanistan as a second front, maintaining its proxy war to keep Pakistan destabilised. Everything would depend on the status of the new Pashtunistan and its relationship with Pakistan.

However, now that someone is thinking what amounts to the unthinkable, maybe we could start to see some movement. Experience suggests, though, that it would be unwise to hold breath. My guess is that India would almost certainly block such a move, which means that Karzai would support his paymaster and be agin it. Britain would fall into line with the land of Pachauri.

The idea is a bit of sense, which - on reflection - probably means its a non-starter.