Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A New Season of War

Saurabh Das/AP

Remember Afghanistan? Think hard. I know other, more important stories have taken over our attention lately: the gushing geyser of oil threatening the eco chain in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond, the pseudo civil war in Thailand, the European economy in the toilet, Rachel dating Jesse St. James of Vocal Adrenaline...

But guess what tovarich? Spring in Afghanistan doesn't just mean a fresh, new field of fiery red poppies to refine into opium and heroin. No suh, you crazy trainspotters. May means we're back in the business of war, wa-hoo! Unlike most Americans who have so moved on with this story, yours truly is obsessed with the "Central Asian Roundabout." Maybe it's because, as the namesake of You Know Who The Great who failed to annex Afghanistan to his collection of real estate, I feel the need to vindicate my brother-from-across-the-centuries and pick up the slack--pen, not sword, you understand. Hey baby what can I say... I'm a lover, not a fighter.

Or maybe it's because somwhereabouts the winter of '79 your not so humble opinion writer was hanging around a disgusting pensione in Rome, waiting for his entry visa into the United States, and befriended an old Soviet emigré who proceeded to school yours truly on the catastrophic mistake the CCCP had just made, invading Afghanistan. And ever since, this always-curious writer has been shaking his head at just how idiotically analogous to the Reds, America's meddling into افغانستان has been. Maybe not.

In any case, Spring has sprung, the roads have defrosted, and it's back to the front we go. If you haven't yet heard, Taliban insurgents launched a brazen assault on the American base at Bagram Wednesday morning, sparking a "large and confusing gun battle that left at least five American soldiers wounded and seven guerrillas dead." (NY Times)

Taliban leaders claimed that seven suicide bombers had blown themselves up at the gates of the base, clearing the way for more than 20 other fighters to get inside. The Taliban reports appeared a bit conflagrative, as they often are. But American officials confirmed that the base, one of the largest in Afghanistan, had come under an "ambitious and unusual assault." (NY Times)

An American official confirmed that the base was bumrushed by as many as 30 insurgents, but that no one had actually breached the defenses.

The assault on Bagram comes on the heels of an attack Tuesday by a suicide bomber in Kabul, who rammed an explosives-laden bus into an American convoy, killing 18 people, including five American soldiers and a Canadian officer.

That attack — and the one on Bagram on Wednesday — appeared to be part of a larger campaign directed at the capital and its environs. In recent days, the Taliban have smuggled five suicide bombers into the area, an American military official said.

A last check still has the White House muttering something about packing up and getting out only after establishing a strong, local governance. Historically speaking...good luck with that. If the Achaemenid Empire, the Macedonian Empire, the Indian Maurya Empire, the Muslim Arab Empire, the Sasanid Empire, and the Great Soviet Empire couldn't tame the baby, chances look a bit thin for our broke-ass selves. But hey, have you heard? Fox is putting on Glee after the Super Bowl next year.

In a move to head off questions about its long-simmering tensions with Hamid Karzai, last week the Obama administration rolled out the red carpet for Our Man in Afghanistan, granting him unprecedented access to Washington's top brass and royal treatment denied to even the closest of US allies.

But don't be fooled by appearances. Tensions are still boiling just below the surface. For all the pomp and circumstance of the four-day visit by the Afghan president and his posse of cabinet ministers and senior advisors, the Obama administration is working hard behind the scenes to weaken his authority by reinforcing local governance to boost elusive stability of the war-torn country.

Stay tuned. This series is slated to develop very slowly. And more than likely, never end. But you know, in the wise words of Eric Arthur Blair (aka Georgie Porgie Orwell): "War is Peace."

A salam alaikum brothers, and pass the AK-47s.


Deni said...

Good post Alex.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sir.