In Afghanistan — Taliban: Islam triumphant; America: self-defeated, ready to run

While Mrs. Clinton, General Petraeus, and Senator Kerry leak information to the media about “accelerating” peace talks with the Taliban, Mullah Omar and his lieutenants are thanking Allah for Islam’s clearly approaching victory in Afghanistan. The Clinton-Petraeus-Kerry disinformation now flowing is simply meant to prepare Americans for a U.S.-led surrender in Afghanistan. We are defeated there, and while Democrats and Republicans may tart up the retreat of the U.S.-NATO coalition as “mission accomplished,” the truth will be that the second superpower was defeated in Afghanistan by mujahideen armed only with faith and weaponry of Korean War vintage.

U.S. officials have told the media that they are talking to Taliban leaders about what “conditions” they want in exchange for joining a Karzai-led Afghan government. They ought to save their time. The Taliban and its allies today want what they have demanded since 12 September 2001: POWER. This is the non-negotiable demand of Mullah Omar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and other Afghan insurgent leaders. These men know that the Afghan war is a zero-sum game; they either win or they lose. They also know that there will be no post-NATO coalition arrangement that lasts any longer than the departure of the last Western bayonet. The Afghan leaders may give the U.S.-NATO coalition a decent interval to withdrawal — as they did the Red Army — but Karzai and any of his colleagues who stay behind will be tortured, carved up, and then hung from the same lampposts the Afghan communist leader Najibullah and his sidekicks were hung from in the 1990s after Moscow abandoned them.

Currently, the Taliban and its allies are on top of the world. The Obama administration, the British and French governments, and most of the other coalition countries are publicly discussing an accelerated withdrawal. Telling Mullah Omar and his colleagues that you are going to leave is — of course — music to the ears of men whose forte is patience, fatalism, and a killer instinct. And after all, what could be a more heady experience for Allah’s warriors than to hear the leaders of infidelity publicly admit they are licked and about to creep shamefully away, tails appropriately between legs.

The death of Osama bin Laden also helps the Taliban. Mullah Omar and the other mujahideen would have preferred that he lived, but his death does not hurt the Taliban’s war effort. At the most basic level, U.S. military officials already have said that al-Qaeda’s main assistance to the Taliban — training, logistical support, and intelligence gathering — continues without interruption. In addition, Mullah Omar will be forever honored across the Muslim world as the one Muslim leader who was willing to defy the United States and temporarily lose his country to host and protect a fellow Muslim mujahideen, the “great lion of Islam,” Osama bin Laden. Omar’s protection of bin Laden moved the largely localized Taliban movement onto the Islamic world’s center stage.

Bin Laden’s death also removes a hindrance from Taliban fund-raising. As long as bin Laden was alive and closely identified with Omar and the Taliban, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Peninsula regimes had to be circumspect in how much and how openly they funneled money to the Afghans. Absent bin Laden — and given their growing anger and contempt for the Obama administration’s slavish support for Israel and back-stabbing of Arab leaders — the Saudi regime and its fellow Gulf tyrannies can be less clandestine and more generous in moving funds to the Taliban, which, after all, is more accurately described as the product of the Saudi religious establishment, rather than that of Pakistani machinations. Private donations to the Taliban from wealthy Gulf Arabs and wealthy Muslims worldwide never ceased, and now are likely to increase.

Finally, the Taliban will receive even more support from the Pakistan’s army and intelligence service. With Obama and NATO leaders having thrown in the towel in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s generals must move to start cleaning up the mess NATO will leave behind and to begin stabilizing their country, which first of all means finding a modus vivendi with the Pakistani Taliban that will begin to curtail that group’s violence inside Pakistan.

If that can be accomplished — and supplies of Arab-provided money and guns will speak loudly — the generals will then encourage the Pakistani Taliban to assist Mullah Omar and his allies in intensifying their war of attrition against the U.S.-NATO coalition and, after the coalition’s defeat, to aid in the destruction of Karzai’s regime. All of this promotes Pakistan’s vital national interests: lessening domestic violence; removing U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Pakistan; eliminating Karzai’s pro-Iran, pro-India regime; reinstalling an Islamist government in Kabul; and leaving India’s presence in Afghanistan untenable, thereby restoring Pakistan’s strategic depth on its western border and allowing the repositioning of military units to its border with India.

The way ahead in Afghanistan, therefore, seems to have been clearly demarcated by the West’s feckless politicians, diplomats, and — most especially — generals. The coming bottom line appears to be: The West loses, and the Taliban wins.

But not so fast, there is more to it. While it is true that the West loses, it is more accurate to say that Islam wins. And when thinking about what that victory will mean, it is worth recalling that Osama’s bin Laden and his generation were galvanized in favor of defending Islam via a jihad by the Afghan mujahideens’ defeat of the Soviet superpower in Afghanistan. It probably is wise — although a bit late — to ponder what impact the mujahideens’ defeat of the U.S. superpower in Afghanistan and Iraq will have on this generation of young Muslims, including those in North America.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.