Rumsfeld's Recipe for Disaster

US Defence Secretary interferes in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

As the voter registration campaign gets under way in Afghanistan, Donald Rumsfeld made a statement which demonstrates his inability to grasp the complex issues in the field, underlining once again the notion that the regime in Washington does not understand that the world is composed of a myriad of different peoples and cultures which do not necessarily want to lead the American way of life.

Speaking in heavily-guarded Kabul, Donald Rumsfeld declared to the press that "Those who have been defeated...would like to come back...but they will not have that opportunity". Referring to the Taleban and their regime, Donald Rumsfeld with this simplistic statement proves that he has no idea of the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan.

To begin with, the Taleban have not disappeared and instead of decreasing in influence, are increasing their attacks, pinning the NATO security forces inside Kabul where, on the same day that he spoke, there was an ambush by the Taleban on a convoy of trucks and a loud explosion near the US Embassy inside the city. Taleban activity in the south have again rendered half of
Afghanistan a no-go area for foreign workers.

Secondly, the Taleban regime based its principles not only on an extremist reading of Islamic law but also on Pashtun lore. The Pashtun are in general dissatisfied with the Karzai administration, considering that all the power has been taken away from them and given to the Tajikh, the other main ethnic group inside Afghanistan. While Hamid Karzai is respected, many of his ministers are referred to on the street as warlords and drugs barons.

"They will not have that opportunity" presupposes that it is Washington, and not the people of Afghanistan, that is responsible for the internal affairs of this country. If the Pashtun elect their representatives democratically and the Pashtun/Taleban mix get an increased share of the vote, who is Donald Rumsfeld to say that they will not get a better power share?

Donald Rumsfeld himself is not devoid of blame in the disaster called Afghanistan. He was a member of the governments which actively supported the Mujaheddin movement to topple the democratic and progressive government of Dr. Najibullah in Kabul, which the Soviet Armed Forces were called upon to protect. It was Rumsfeld's governments that created the chaos which would see Afghanistan spin out of control and the Mujaheddin transform into the Taleban and 1.5 million people dead or injured, in another blatant example of Washington's disastrous external policy.

If the electoral registration process is a barometer of the country's health, this does not appear to be too stable. To begin with, the government's authority becomes weaker the further one travels away from Kabul. International experts believe that the process will take longer than
six months to complete, due to the inaccessibility of large swathes of territory caused by Taleban activity. Professor Reginald Austin, the chief electoral officer, has declared to the press that if the current situation continues, there will not be a fair election, an opinion backed by other international officials in Afghanistan, who claim that if the Pashtun south is not given a fair representation of the vote, the election in June 2004 will not have the legitimacy it needs to stabilise the country which Donald Rumsfeld and his governments helped to destabilise.


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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey