In one of my fondest memories intersect empire, literature, media, solitude, nature, asphalt, and urban and mountain landscapes. It was the mid-70's and I was listening riveted to one of Chicago's then three classical radio stations driving up Lake Shore while returning to my apartment on the North side in a spring down pour very late one Friday night. That evening's feature was a reading from Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King. The movie starring Michael Caine and Sean Connery would be released that summer. I saw the film for the first time with three dear friends at a large theater in the city. We gentlemen wore sport coats and ties. The ladies wore fancy dresses. The times were different then, and too the cultural sensibilities.
I've viewed the film often since, enjoying it most when I watched it with my boys; my son Adam, his cousins Nathan and Scott, and Nathan's half-brother Graham. It made an impact on Nathan at least, because he would later ask me to play and sing The Minstrel Boy on the piano.
One of my favorite scenes occurs after the two fortune seekers, Peachy and Danny, have endured a grueling mountain climb through blinding snow and emerge to a pastoral setting and meet Billy Fish, a Ghurka soldier trained by the British in India, who speaks both English and the native tongue. Billy Fish, acting as interpreter puts for their proposition: to help the local leader fight and conquer his enemies.
"Ask him if he has enemies Billie."
"Enemies. Yes. Many enemies," comes the reply.
Thoughts of that exchange occurred while reading this AFP article in which enumerations of the numerous enemies the U.S. is fighting in its support of its puppet Karzai government. Included amongst the enemies in Afghanistan are:
1. Taliban Fighters
2. The Taliban (also Taliban)
3. Low and Mid-level Extremists
5. Islamist Insurgent Groups
7. Taliban Movement
8. Taliban Foot Soldiers
9. Hardline Taliban Supporters
10. Taliban Leadership
11. The Militia
12. Hizb-e-Islami Afgahnistan
13. Radical Insurgent Groups
14. Senior Most Taliban Leaders
The important people named in this article include
Hamid Karzai: Afghanistan President
Robert Gates: U.S. Secretary of Defense
Zabihulla Muhjahid: spokesman for "The Militia" (see above)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: leader of Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (see above)
Zubair Sediqi: spokesman for Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Hillary Clinton: U.S. Secretary of State
Barak Obama - U.S. President
From the article, we are told that the Afghanistan President announced an "ambitious" plan to offer money and jobs to "tempt" (bribe) the Taliban fighters to "lay down their arms," in other words to surrender. The money to pay the bribes will not come from the Afghanistan coffers, but will be "Western-funded." Reading between the lines, the U.S. will be doling out cash. Karzai seems willing to spend unlimited amounts of American money to buy the peace as he later states "we must have peace at any cost."
The hopes are that this plan will "quell" the "crippling insurgency."
The use of "quell" here is interesting. The Miriam Webster online dictionary gives two meanings:
1. To thoroughly overwhelm and reduce to passivity
2. quiet, pacify
Since the insurgency is crippling, and "an increasingly deadly rebellion" has been waged since the U.S. outed the Taliban government in 2001, we can conclude that the second sense of quell is intended. Therefore, the long-term potential for success of this program of bribery would seem to rest upon whether or not the insurgency is fueled because of money issues.
We are later learn that "the Taliban will not sell themselves for cash" nor will they negotiate with "this government" (i.e., they do not recognize the Karzai government to be legitimate) and that the militia's goals include enforcing an Islamic government and the withdrawal of foreign troops.
The requirements of one of the "other radical Islamist group(s)" to come to negotiations is similar: unconditional exit of all foreign forces, new administration in charge for a year, permanent cease-fire, freeing of political prisoners.
U.S. Def Sec Gates calls the Taliban part of the "political fabric" of Afghanistan but demands that their future role contingent on a present surrender (laying down of weapons) in order to prove that they want a "role in Afghanistan's future." Clearly this segment of the Afghanistan political fabric is playing a very serious part in Afghanistan's present.
We are also told of U.S. Sec State Clinton has a long-term non-military strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan which "complements" President Obama's troop escalation strategy and apparently also complements Karzai's announced non-military bribe strategy (which will certainly enhance the coffers of the corrupt Karzai regime.)
The picture presented is of a group of committed fighters who are causing serious damage. Their goal is to boot out the U.S. and NATO troops and removing the present Afghanistan political administration.
The bribery strategy sounds like the Petraeus plan implemented in Iraq to make the troop escalation there look like a "success" on the basis of the ex-post facto basis of reduced violence.
Nowhere do we see mention of the 100,000 plus mercenaries (contractors) already in Afghanistan, nor any mention of the CIA paramilitary. Nor do we see the amount of money to be used as bribes, nor the period over which the bribery plan is scheduled to be in effect.
Nor do we see any estimates of the size:
The Taliban Movement
Taliban Foot Soldiers
Hardline Taliban Supporters
Senior Most Taliban Leaders
Nor are we told of the number in Afghanistan of
Radical Insurgent Groups
Islamist Insurgent Groups
Nowhere do we find the size of Hizb-e-Islami Afgahnistan.
There is no quantification for the numbers of
Low and mid-level extremists
What we are left to conclude, however, is that we have enemies; many enemies. Enemies, thy names are legion.