Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Poles pack their bags for PR stunt in Afghanistan

Another token force of Polish troops gets mixed up in the ‘war on terror’ and the hunt for Mr. Bad Guy No. 1.

The UK Herald reports:

‘UP to 400 elite British, American, Australian, Polish and Canadian special forces troopers are to be transferred from Iraq to Afghanistan to step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man.‘

But because of Poland’s severely limited defense budget resources, the number of ordinary troops that Poland planned to commit to ‘stabalizing’ Afghanistan has been reduced from 1000 to 500.

Currently, Poland has just 100 troops stationed there.

Condoleeza Rice said to foreign minister, Anna Fotyga, during her recent trip to the US:

‘The United States was a friend to Poland in difficult times. Poland has been an inspiration to Americans in difficult times and now in good times. And I thank you very much, Foreign Minister, for the good discussion that we have had, of the support to the new Iraqi Government and I thank you for your government's steadfastness in Iraq, your work in Afghanistan.’

Fotyga said she was delighted to see Condi, too:

‘Poland is a faithful ally to the United States and we intend to remain. So it was my pleasure to meet Dr. Rice once more and to invite her to visit Warsaw. It will be my pleasure further to discuss all issues already mentioned today.’

Nice. Sounds like they are getting on like a humbie on fire.

But the Afghanistan where the albeit token force of 500 Poles will be going to is one where the American led attack on the Taliban and al-Qaeda has failed. Conditions for ordinary Afghanis have got little better, women are still suffering from the oppressive culture - Taliban or no Taliban.

This will be a much more dangerous mission than the one the Poles got involved in, in the quiet area of central Iraq near Babylon after the invasion to oust Saddam.

David Dastych, a 64 year old journalist and former intelligence operative based in Poland, reported in May that the Taliban are back in control of much of the south of the country, where the Polish troops will be stationed.

These claims have been proved right by the audio taped statement by the one-eyed leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, released yesterday.

The Taliban leader, still on the run from 'the coalition of the willing', claimed for the first time since 9/11 that a large area of Afghanistan, including a lot of the mountain areas in the south, is still under the control of the Taliban.

The truth is that Afghanistan has never been under the control of the Americans or Kabul. Afghanistan is not a country with a central, controlling capital anyway. It never has been since the British got kicked out a century ago. In a way, Afghanistan is not a nation at all, but a collection of ethnic groups and areas under the control of warlords.

If the special services guys from the US, Poland and elsewhere do finally get Bin Laden then it will be a PR coup like no other, but it will be a meaningless one. Unstable areas like Afghanistan cannot be reconstructed by occupying forces. In fact, occupying forces are often part of the problem, not the solution.

So why is Poland spending scarce resources on what is a glorified PR exercise to make US leaders appear more credible at home, with a mid-term election just round the corner?


roman said...

Are you going to serve a little cheese with that whine?
Coalition forces CONTROL Afghanistan. Control means being able to flood a problem area with boots on the ground within a short time and take possession of it. The Taliban are just a few rag tag remnants of a fighting force that is still able to cause problems in small and remote towns. They remind me of the Shining Path bunch. An anoyance to the ruling government but no serious threat to seize control.

beatroot said...

Camembert, please…

Nobody has ever had control of Afghanistan. It’s just not that type of country. The British never controlled it. The post colonial regimes never controlled it. The Taliban only controlled Kabul and some other areas.. And now the government and Americans have control of the same areas. But the government is losing it…

The coalition never have had control of Afghanistan. See this BBC report from 2003


See that one from May this year


or see ‘Taliban in complete control of tribal areas along Afghan border” here


and it’s not only the Taliban. Take warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar…


I could go on…

roman said...

I prefer Stilton myself...

Look, the Taliban are history. They lost their official support in Pakistan and depend on some small tribes straddling the border. They are not going to make a comeback. Most of the warlords hate them more than they do the coalition forces. These same warlords were humiliated and marginalized under the Taliban government and having them regain power is just not very likely.

Agnes said...

"and depend on some small tribes straddling the border." - Roman, where did you get this from? That area belongs to the warlords and the army. The army purchased much of the land, corruption is huge. So even if Musharraf goes, the power still will be in the hand of the present army, they own almost everyhting now. And they 1. either sympathiuze or need the Taliban support. And they sem to go hand in hand: Pakistan is radicalizing. If they had no power in the area, how can you explain that that the Talibans still 'control' the area, even if not officially?

beatroot said...

Actually, Roman, many of the warloards suppirted the taliban. In fact, the 'Taliban' were made up of a bunch of oppotunist warlords who entered into agreements with taliban leaders for conrol of various areas. That is how it works in Afghanistan.

But let's not exaggerate the role of the Taliban...it is a collection of warlords, including talibanic sypathizers who are leading the new violence.

And let's be clear about something else: we will not be bringing human rights etc to Afghanis...many resent all these western NGOs coming in giving them lecturers about human rights.

Can you think of a society where rights - women's rights, for example, have preceeded development in the economy? Afghan needs to develop, and as it does Afghanis will start to demand rights themselves! Rights cannot be given to them by western NGOs or armies...they have to be won by the people themselves.

let's get out of Afghanistan now!!!

roman said...


Point of clarification; straddling the border within Afghanistan. I agree that Pakistan is another story entirely.

roman said...


Substitute US with coalition force and I mostly agree with your views. The only reason we attacked the Taliban was to get at Al Qaida and their training camps.
So much for the left leaning pundits who talked about oil pipelines and other crazy theories. Once most remnants of Al Qaida and the Taliban are gone, we're gone. Like you said about "caring" who runs the country. If we did and tried to exert influence then the same left leaning pundits would call us the "evil" colonialist empire. We're bad if we do and bad if we don't. Why worry?

Agnes said...


Not very pro-American army factions do support the Talibans (still), both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Progressive forces want them go, on the other hand they are in a very difficult position: the invasion does not make the coalition very popular.

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