With the news of the change of government leadership in Kabul as the Taliban take over and as the old leadership fled from the country, I am reminded that most Australians would not understand that the style of government in so many of these Muslim/Arab countries is not as we know it. There is little central government infrastructure and so any semblance of democracy is only an illusion. In these places in each and every community a “strongman” effectively control that area often by subtle force but with the strong backup of actual oppressive violence with a degree of loyalty to the “central government”; bribes are commonplace in the administration arrangements. (I have spent many years in the Middle East and have observed the regional administration in several places in the area)
Winning a short term war against the Taliban is something that was hoped for by the West military forces; but gaining the peace was a different story as the occupation was just as it was in living memory – that is a “strongman” (the foreign forces) imposing an administration on a region with loyalty to a “central government” (a coalition of military commanders and the propped up Kabul government. During this time, well over a decade, the Taliban retreated to the hills and continued with skirmishes against the local “strongmen” and while they had little success in their attacks they did gain valuable manpower support since the underlining doctrine of much of the Muslim/Arab world is anti-American which taints all occupation forces with the same brush.
The biggest problem was that the constant need of enforcing the “peace” was undermining any chance of a mindset change that could have seen a changed style of administration that would have been needed to see lasting peace in the whole of Afghanistan. As a student of history I note that the Romans also had a similar problem where the transition between the military conquest and the establishing of a sustainable natural peace. The forced peace of the Romans ensured the rebellion of the population never quite died down and so the maintaining of the peace was difficult with the need to suppress uprisings in various places from time to time.
We must hope that those who have discovered a larger degree of freedom granted during that window will be able to sow and grow the seeds that will produce a more peaceful and free Afghanistan; however, the path ahead will be very difficult and very troubling.
Yours in Good Faith
Above is the backstory to my letter to the Newcastle Morning Herald. The events were highly predictable and those who are surprised are one without their fingers on the pulse though they should be fully aware. I find the failure to understand the type of usual government in Afghanistan is the main problem that has caused the Australian and USA governments to be unprepared for the how things need to handled in trying to change the way government happens in the Muslim world.
I would like to remind you that the words spoken before by eminent leaders. “There is no greater fear than fear itself”; it was this principle alone that that confused John Howard when he was looking for “weapons of mass destructions”. On each building that Chemical Ali was in charge of had in Arabic ” Remember the Kurds”. The Kurds were gaining momentum towards a potential challenge to the government of Iraq and so chemical warfare was engaged and over 12,000 Kurds were killed in one day. That single statement was the “weapon of mass destruction” that controlled the entire population of Iraq.