This past weekend, the United States of America signed a peace treaty with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. I found it quite interesting that the treaty was signed in Qatar, which is where the leaders of Hamas, another Islamic terrorist organization, claim residence.
Also, the Qataris’ support of Islamic terrorism, including support for the Islamic State (ISIS), has been an issue of concern. Qatar took in the five senior leaders of the Taliban who were released from Gitmo by then President Barack Obama in exchange for an American deserter.
I spent two and a half years in Afghanistan, the southern region, based in Kandahar Air Base as the leader of a civilian/military advisory team to the 205th Corps of the Afghanistan National Army. I was there from June 2005-November 2007. Therefore, I would like to share my thoughts and perspectives on that combat theater of operations, which is part of a broader conflagration against militant Islamic jihadism or terrorism.
When I hear so many refer to the “war” in Afghanistan, I cringe. The real war has been waged since the Islamic revolution of 1979 in Iran, which produced the resurgence of Islamo-fascism, totalitarianism, jihad. This has been ongoing since the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983, conducted by Hezbollah, the Islamic terrorist proxy army of Iran.
The battleground in Afghanistan was just another theater of operations in this grander global conflict against Islamic jihadism. Sadly, over these past years, we have failed to grasp this strategically.
Certainly, no one wants a prolonged combat engagement, and this enemy knows that. Success, victory, in Afghanistan was well within our reach, but we looked at Afghanistan with Western-colored sunglasses.
First, the endeavor to bring “democracy” to Afghanistan was utter folly. This insidious quest of nation-building was never going to work in Afghanistan. The power in that country is with tribal leaders, which is the lowest level, closest to the people, and truly where the allegiances lie.
Afghanistan is made up of several ethnic groups: Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Hazaras (the smallest). These groups are about as distrusting of each other and have chasms within themselves, based upon tribes. For someone residing in Kandahar, Kabul is as far away as Washington, D.C. Herat Province is as distant to Mazar al Sharif as Rome Italy.
Any conception about making a national sense of Afghanistan was tough sledding. The most vital aspect of that culture is that they respect, regard, toughness…not a central government and processes which only open more avenues for corruption.
In Afghanistan, we became more focused on government institutions than on the enemy itself. We needed to decentralize our operations and dry up the sanctuaries of the Taliban within the borders of Afghanistan.
Much like the “strategic hamlet” program in the early days of Vietnam, that is where success lies when fighting against a non-state, non-uniform unlawful enemy combatant. Also, we on the ground knew that if you did not contend with the Taliban sanctuaries provided by Pakistan, you were just playing a recurring game of “whack a mole.”
I found that we had more success early on in Afghanistan with small strike operations-oriented forces that could immediately hit the enemy. What set us back, especially in southern Afghanistan, was when we broke up responsibility for provinces by nations — NATO.
Case in point: Kandahar province was under Canadian control; Zabul province, the Romanians; Uruzgan province, the Dutch; and Helmand province, the Brits. If we had fought World War II as we fought in southern Afghanistan, lots of folks would be speaking German today.
Oh, by the way, the Germans had northern Afghanistan and the Italians, Herat province. The darndest thing was that each country had their respective combat employment caveats, and cross provincial support was truly unheard of. The end result was that the Taliban got smart and understood who was fighting, and who was restrained.
Trying to build a grand Afghanistan National Army was never going to succeed. The literacy rate in the country was so horrible that we had to use cartoons and pictures to train many of the young enlisted soldiers. What was successful? A very highly recruited Afghanistan Commando Force, higher standards, and a greater commitment to fighting the enemy.
I have often been asked about the most memorable experience of my military career. That is an easy answer — seeing little girls go to school in Afghanistan in their uniforms. If there was one thing that was right, true, and vital, it was creating respect for the rights of women. I believe that they do indeed hold the future of Afghanistan. And that is why I do not trust, in any measure, an agreement with the Taliban.
I recall reports of these barbaric savages throwing acid on girls going to school, or even worse, gunning them down. We should never forget that it was Malala Yousafzai, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for actually doing something, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for being an advocate for education of girls.
I remember reports of school headmasters being beheaded right in front of their families. Local provincial government officials having their sons executed, our interpreter/translators being hunted down and killed, also by beheading.
As far as I have read, nothing has changed, or reformed, about the Taliban. They are still radical, militant, Islamic fundamentalists who seek to create an Islamic caliphate. Sound familiar?
Imagine if we had signed a peace treaty with Nazi Germany, even after knowing about the Holocaust genocide? What have we demanded in undermining the very violent Islamist philosophy that drives the Taliban? And, if we have signed an agreement with them, then what of the many other Islamic jihadist, terrorist organizations that proliferate in our world?
If you understand Islamic jurisprudence and tradition, the Arabic term taqiyya means to “gain the trust of non-believers (kafir) in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them with denial of religious belief and practice in the face of persecution.” In essence, taqiyya is all about lying, deception, and distraction, which is what Muhammed did with the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, circa 628 AD, with the people of Mecca.
Do I want to see a better future for the people of Afghanistan? Absolutely! Do I trust the Taliban, or any Islamic jihadist group? Absolutely not!
When negotiating with an enemy, it must be done from a position of strength, advantage, not from a lack of resolve. And that, folks, the latter, is what the Taliban and their ilk have interpreted.
This column was originally published at CNSNews
The views expressed in CCNS member articles are not necessarily the views or positions of the entire CCNS. They are the views of the authors, who are members of the CCNS.