In Front of Two Big Sharks

Here is what we know from our sources in Afghanistan: there is at least one (if not several) proxy wars going on; and, there are signs of the beginning of another civil war. Now, Dick Cheney would disagree with this, but the former vice president has been proven continuously wrong on the topic of Afghanistan and, indeed, without his deluded guidance on the issue (focus on Iraq, taking needed resources from Afghanistan in the crucial 2002-2006 period), we would not have ended up in the very situation in which we find ourselves. For reference about where it all went wrong, put in your advance order now for Eric Blehm’s fine book about the Green Berets in 2001 called The Only Thing Worth Dying For. Send a highlighted copy to Cheney while you’re at it.

Two Women in Little Pakistan (Photo by Nelson Villarreal)

That aside, the proxy war between India and Pakistan is very much on the minds of the wise men, a.k.a. the people who have actually been in and out of Afghanistan for the last 15 years.

The man who served as our fixer in 2005-2006 and is a respected journalist told us, “In terms of Afghanistan, it is located in front of two big sharks, which always try to have Afghanistan in their place of big interest. [When] one tries to get close, it makes the other one uncomfortable. There are a lot of politics going on like that, but these problems are still not at that stage when the whole international community won’t be able to control [it].”

He added, “It is possible that by putting more political pressure on Pakistan, and doing more drone attacks on the tribal areas of Pakistan, that it will help a lot.”

And then, what if the Afghan government collapses? We look now at the fact that our former safe house in Kabul, located not in the baroque grotesque of Little Pakistan but in a more sedate neighborhood, is now in bits of concrete thanks to a succession of bombs.

Collapse is a real possibility—as is civil war. So when President Obama lays out his plan tonight, we will be looking for what the “official” line is regarding US goals in Afghanistan regardless of a potential civil war. The latter is a quagmire beyond any nation’s skill set, and we’re not selling our military short in saying so.