Friday, June 20, 2008

The Illusion of Saving Nations from Themselves

It is an axiom of history that no government put in place by foreign troops, or needing to be maintained in place by them against internal opposition, can be considered a legitimate government.

The Taliban in Afghanistan are not the Russian army, overrunning Afghanistan with tanks and helicopters, or an invading British colonial army. If they were, the problem would be simple. They are Afghans, members of the 40-million strong Pathan (or Pushtoon) people, who make up the largest part of the Afghan population. If other Pathans, inside Afghanistan, who are not religious fundamentalists, and the Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks who make up the rest of the country’s population, do not wish to be ruled by Pathan religious reactionaries, they should not need 60 thousand NATO and U.S. troops to defend them. If they will not defend themselves, there is nothing the foreigners can do to save them from their countrymen.

The same is true of the Iraqis. The only foreign army that has invaded Iraq is the American army. The Iraq government is resisting long-term American extraterritorial presence in the country, and Iraqis are increasingly pressing the United States to get out. They are finding that the Pentagon and the White House have actually been planning to stay indefinitely (for 100 years?). This automatically will sooner or later produce a popular uprising against military occupation.

Then what will an Obama or McCain administration do? They might order the troops to pull out. They will be accused of surrendering America to forces of evil.

Or they might order the army and Marines to do again what was done to Falluja. They could forget about democracy and nation-building.

William Pfaff yesterday....,