Thursday, October 29, 2009

We’ve Lost Nuristan

We’ve lost Nuristan, and I feel fine:

ISLAMABAD - The United States has withdrawn its troops from its four key bases in Nuristan, on the border with Pakistan, leaving the northeastern province as a safe haven for the Taliban-led insurgency to orchestrate its regional battles.

The US has retained some forces in Nuristan's capital, Parun, to provide security for the governor and government facilities. The American position concerning the withdrawal is that due to winter conditions, supply arteries are choked, making it difficult to keep forces in remote areas. The US has pulled out from some areas in the past, but never from all four main bases.…

The province is now under the effective control of the network belonging to Qari Ziaur Rahman, a Taliban commander with strong ties to Bin Laden. This makes Nuristan the first Afghan province to be controlled by a network inspired by al-Qaeda.

I can hear the children playing at the school by my house as I write this. Traffic is moving along the road, same as always. Flags aren’t flying at half-mast. The US empire is still crumbling apart like moldy drywall. It’s just another day.

And why should it be any different? After all, we’ll get Nuristan back. We always do. On that day, the recovery of Nuristan will be greeted with the same indifference as its loss.

Occasionally, we Americans show some intelligence.

Here’s a funny coincidence. On the day we hear about our retreat from Nuristan, the New York Times publishes an op-ed piece about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan entitled, “Transcripts of Defeat.” (Highly recommended.) Here’s a quote from a Soviet commander at the time:

“There is no piece of land in Afghanistan that has not been occupied by one of our soldiers at some time or another,” he said. “Nevertheless much of the territory stays in the hands of the terrorists. We control the provincial centers, but we cannot maintain political control over the territory we seize. …

“About 99 percent of the battles and skirmishes that we fought in Afghanistan were won by our side,” Marshal Akhromeyev told his superiors in November 1986. “The problem is that the next morning there is the same situation as if there had been no battle. The terrorists are again in the village where they were — or we thought they were — destroyed a day or so before.”

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