Zbigniew Brzezinski—former national security adviser, co-founder of the Trialteral Commission and (which might come to a frequent reader’s surprise) one of the scholars I’ve avidly studied most on geopolitics—discusses the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan (4:20):

What I find worth noting:

“A foreign operation tends to mobilize opposition. And the more large scale it is, the larger the opposition becomes…. If Afghans are fighting the Taliban, counterinsurgency can succeed. If we are fighting the Taliban, the chances are that if we give 40,000 more troops for counterinsurgency against the existing levels of the Taliban, a year from now we may be fighting Taliban levels that are 25% higher. And then, we have to send more troops in, etc., etc.”

This articulates the cyclical nature of a counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan at its root. I’ve hit this point on the micro-level saying that this COIN uses force for the Afghan government, not the people. COIN in this manner “is either self-defeating or purposefully manufactures the self-fulfilling prophesy of a long-term occupation virtually enslaving the Afghans and their government to U.S. interests”. Sayyid, my co-editor, makes a stronger point, in my opinion, along these same lines against the counterinsurgency operation labeled as “the alternative” by White House officials in his comment on airstrikes boosting Taliban recruitment.

Prof. Brzezinski knows this well, seeing as his was one of the primary architects of the insurgency—known at the time as the “mujahadeen”—against the U.S.S.R. that would become The Taliban and al-Qa’ida. Here’s the—now, infamous—picture of him with Osama bin Laden:

Prof. Brzezinski follows that the 2001 U.S. invasion started with the Air Force, a small number of Special Forces troops in the hundreds that sustained a larger partnership with homegrown resistance—mostly, cynical druglords whose interests were plundered by the ruling Taliban—and there was little resistance from the locals after the small Taliban ruling faction was overthrown. But now, the U.S. troop levels are over 60,000 and the “military commanders are telling us we’re not winning. What’s that tell you? Where’s the resistance? Obviously, it’s from the Taliban.”

But it’s not “The Taliban”, as in those overthrown in 2001. He continues:

“It’s Afghans. Afghans who increasingly identify themselves with something they were pleased to be seen overthrown eight years ago. That’s a bad trend.”

Asked if the U.S. is following a trend similar to that of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—which led to the U.S.S.R. demise—in the 80’s, he replies, “I’ve been saying that for three years.” Last month, he said it was due to the “Afghan perception that [U.S. troops] are foreign invaders“.

Prof. Brzezinski likens the U.S. “imposing elections” on the Afghan people “based on the American model with polling stations, candidates, debates, now—perhaps—even a runoff election” to the Soviets attempting to export its brand of “communism” to Afghanistan. “I think it’s high time we draw some lessons from it,” he added.

As a suggestion, he says, “Why not a jirga?”—loosely: a three branch government structure traditional to Pashtuns, consisting of people’s referendums, a Congress and a judiciary of elders acting as a dispute resolution assembly to form consensus.

My family’s from a relatively informal municipality in India that operates with a jirga. The one with which I’m familiar is genuinely democratic, in the purest non-mob-rule sense, but I’d assume the Afghans wouldn’t form a system as matriarchal as that. Either way, we’re talking about a country that—liberally—estimates a 20% literacy rate. The rational next question is: what makes one literate in Afghanistan?

You can’t establish a ‘rule of law’ when the people can’t read the law, let alone the enforcers.

As critical as I’ve been toward the Afghanistan occupation and the retardation within the mainstream so-called “debate” common in the U.S., don’t take my comment about Afghan literacy as American exceptionalism. Zbigniew Brzezinski is an amoralist, yet he rationalizes the situation in Afghanistan and the U.S. role closer to truth than people claiming to focus on justice. This is sad.

If you’re unsold that the U.S. needs to get out of Afghanistan, this is post #75 here on the occupation in the ten and a half months since this blog launched. There’s plenty to go through; most recently:

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