Bloggers react to news of renewed Taliban presence in Afghanistan, the pushed-back deadline on Darfur, and the European Union’s walkout on Serbian integration over Ratko Mladic.
Talibanistan: With the announced departure of American troops from southern Afghanistan—and particularly from the Uruzgan province—the Taliban has begun regrouping, according to a front-page article in Wednesday’s New York Times. Bloggers assess the threat of that “other” insurgency and wonder if NATO peacekeepers who will replace the U.S. soldiers can do much to restore stability.
Ron Chusid at The Democratic Daily brings the war home: “If only George Bush had been serious about fighting terrorism after 9/11, rather than seeking political gain and an excuse to implement previously held plans for Iraq. If he had been serious, he might have concentrated on destroying the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan (and capturing bin Laden).” Conservative A.C. at Fore Left! is more analytical: “[R]egardless of who’s there, Bin Laden’s plan is clearly to fight a war of attrition. It took them over ten years to push out the Soviets, but they finally did. Our situation is different, as despite what the far left ‘thinks’, we did not invade that country to capture territory, therefore setting up the government and sheparding a security force to keep the peace was the goal. Such was being accomplished without serious side effects up until about a year ago.”
Berkeley resident Robert Silvey at Rubicon calls Afghanistan the “forgotten war” and thinks the recent headlines mean both that nation and Iraq are on the brink of fratricidal chaos: “The decades-long civil war, which was in abeyance for a few years before the American invasion, has picked up again. As in Iraq, there are enough American (and other NATO) troops to create a constant irritant, but not enough to pacify the entire country.” “This is exactly why we can’t signal when we will withdraw from Iraq,” submitsDon Singleton, who also thinks NATO forces are useless if they don’t take up arms.
Michael Galien, a Dutch law student who runs Liberty and Justice,is suspicious of the timing of the news and its relationship to deployment schedules: “The Netherlands agreed to send troops to Afghanistan, this year and next year, so that the US forces can withdraw. … We were told that, yes the Taliban is stronger in Uruzgan than in other parts of Afghanistan, but it is mainly under control. … Now we have agreed to send our troops, all of a sudden everything seems to be changing.”
Read more about heightened Taliban activity in southern Afghanistan.
’Til Thursday: With the deadline for a Darfur peace settlement postponed yet again—this time until Thursday—international mediators and cyber-watchers are entering deep solicitude mode.
Madman of Chu at his self-titled blog laments the hoary and inexact categories of armistice brokerage: “The fact that there are ‘two’ combatant sides in Darfur, however masks the true character of the crime being committed as the world watches. … [T]he indiscriminate murder of 200,000 individuals that has occasioned the moral horror of the world is almost exclusively the work of Arab ‘janjaweed’ militias funded and encouraged by the government in Khartoum.”
Yet Daniel at the left-leaning blog Crooked Timber hopes that online calls for action against the Sudanese regime don’t create false expectations in its domestic opposition: “The Sudanese government, who are villains right enough and who I am sure will face charges at the ICC in the future, are actually not the problem now; they are co-operating at the peace talks. … At present, ill-informed comment in the developed world is potentially even worse than annoying; if it persuades the Darfurian rebel groups that the world is gearing up to decapitate the Khartoum regime, it’s actually dangerous.”
One way around the issue of state sovereignty would be to hire a private contractor—not a foreign government—to stop the violence, suggests Chester at The Adventures of Chester. And one such contractor has already volunteered itself: “Blackwater … seeks to insert itself due to one particular detail of the particular externality of Darfur. Namely, no powerful state in the world has any inherent national interest in preventing the killing there, except solely out of a sense of altruism. Blackwater offers to solve the problem for them, if only someone will pay for it all.”
Read more about the Darfur talks.
The Ratko-catching catch: The European Union called off its membership negotiations with Serbia after the country’s repeated failure to hand over wanted war criminal Ratko Mladic. Serbian center-left Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is angry that this ultimatum will further damage his post-Milosevic homeland, but many in cyberspace think that the European Union is within its rights.
At TheHypocrisy Weblog, the anonymous poster there applauds the stance and wishes it would always hold itself to such high standards: “[T]hese strict rules need to be applied to prospect countries such as Turkey—where over a half million kurds are being oppressed on a dialy basis by the Turkish regime.”
Carl Bildt, the “European in Sweden” at Bildt Comments, might agree so long as this moral imperative could be applied retroactively: “Although it has little to do with the challenges of today, there is little doubt that the European Union is applying harder standards to Serbia than one did to Croatia. In the Croatia case, one rightly did not open membership negotiations as long as Ante Gotovina was not apprehended and brought to the Hague, but there were no problem in negotiating and concluding an SAA treaty with him still at large.”
Read more about the Mladic veto.