Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ill Winds

Is a single (albeit massive) suicide bombing all it takes to bring Hamid Karzai to his knees - and at strategic eye-level with Mullah Omar?:
A Taliban suicide bomber wearing an Afghan army uniform set off a huge explosion Saturday while trying to board a military bus in the capital, killing thirty people, most of them soldiers, officials said. Hours later, the Afghan president offered to meet personally with the Taliban leader for peace talks and give the militants a position in government. ...

Saturday's explosion ripped off the roof of the bus and tore out its sides, leaving a charred hull of burnt metal. It was reminiscent of the deadliest insurgent attack in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 — when a bomber boarded a police academy bus at Kabul's busiest transportation hub in June and killed thirty-five people.

Dozens of civilians and police officers searched for bodies. Police and soldiers climbed trees to retrieve some body parts. Nearby businesses also were damaged.
I don't know what is the more baffling - the Afghan president's supine eagerness to sue for peace, or the Taliban's year-long strategy (up until now) of trying to take on American-led NATO forces in straight-up battles and absorbing the inevitable string of bloody, lopsided massacres. If Karzai is on the level with his offer, Omar has to be kicking himself awfully near where Karzai is offering his "services".

Oh, it's not quite as sickening as that on its face; the Taliban would have to "renounce violence," cut ties with the foreign jihadis under their current command, and accept and pledge to work within the structure of the new Afghan democracy.

You can probably see why I added the qualifier "on its face"; all Mullah Omar and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar would have to do is give advance instructions to their "foreign terrorists" to continue the insurgency and then make a big show of complying with Karzai's demands. Then, as the war continued unabated, the Taliban "party" leaders would have their plausible deniability, and Karzai would end up looking weak, incompetent, ineffective, with his enemies both on the outside and the inside wreaking wanton havoc. Indeed, Omar could even sell himself as the Afghan "Nixon," the only member of the "democratic" government with the ability to "reach out" to the insurgents and "make a lasting peace." Presto-chango, the Taliban win the next elections, gain democratic legitimacy (just like Hamas did in "Palestine"), order NATO out of the country, and you can fill in the rest (such as the American Left agitating for a retreat from Afghanistan after they'd secured our defeat in Iraq).

Oh, maybe Omar couldn't pull that off personally, but perhaps an Ahmadinejad-like frontman not directly tied to the previous round of Taliban rule could.

Worst case scenario? Unquestionably. Would it be the first time that the "good guys" outsmarted themselves? Not by a long shot.

~ ~ ~
Going back a couple of weeks, both the Russian Federation and Red China took, shall we say, an unfavorable few of [I never thought I'd ever combine these words in the same sentence] French sabre-rattling vis-a-vie Iran:
Any US military intervention in Iran would be a "political error" that would have "catastrophic" consequences, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said in an interview published Tuesday. ...
"We are convinced that there is no military solution to the Iranian problem. It's impossible. Besides, it is quite clear that there is no military solution to the Iraq problem either. But in the case of Iran everything could be even more complicated," he said. ...
China is opposed to threatening Iran with war over its nuclear program and stands for a diplomatic solution, a government spokeswoman said on Tuesday. ...
"We believe the best option is to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations, which is in the common interests of the international community," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing.
"We do not approve of easily resorting to threatening use of force in international affairs," Jiang said when asked to comment on remarks by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner raising the prospect of war with Iran.
This is hardly surprising. Iran is a big source of oil and natural gas for the ChiComms, so their economic interests alone would auger for Beijing cultivating good relations with the mullahgarchy. And, of course, they have many more interests than just cheap energy.
The Russians' motivations, by contrast, do not come from a position of burgeoning strength, and thus are more complicated and unstable, as PubliusPundit points out:
One might well ask: Where does Ahmadinejad get the brazen hubris necessary to confront the overwhelmingly more powerful team of the United States and Europe in this haughty, contemptuous manner? His nation, alone, is far too puny to work up such suicidal pathos (look how easily the U.S. destroyed the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq). There's a clear answer: He gets it from Russia, and specifically from Russia's dictator Vladimir Putin. It is no overstatement to say that Russia is the real root cause of turmoil in the Middle East. There would still be violence and conflict in the region if Russia ceased to exist, but it would be far more subject to U.S. influence if Russia were not fanning its flames.
And make no mistake: turmoil in the Middle East is directly in Russia's interests. Even if it doesn't actually undermine U.S. security, it still creates the conditions of uncertainty which tend to keep international oil prices inflated, and those prices are the Kremlin's lifeblood. By supporting terrorist and rogue regimes in the Middle East, Russia not only gets the chance to vent its pathological hatred of America and her values, but more importantly supports the only pillar of its economy. Peace and stability in the Middle East are the last things Russia wants.
Vlad Putin wants to make his country a superpower again, but he doesn't have the direct means to do so. This explains his partnership with the ChiComms and his cultivation of rogue regimes like the NoKos and the mullahgarchy (and formerly, Saddam Hussein's Iraq) in order to try and tie down the U.S. in multiple regional "brushfire" conflicts any one of which he can exploit to force a global showdown when he feels he's ready to win it.
Publius agrees:
[T]he two are very literally in bed together where hatred of America, Europe and Western values are concerned. Recently, the U.S. military confirmed that Iran is providing missiles to the Islamic terrorists in Iraq which are being used to kill Americans on the ground there. While these particular missiles apparently came to Iran by way of North Korea, Putin's Russia is also providing Ahmadinejad's Iran with the technology it needs to develop nuclear energy, which Iran hopes will be the basis for its obtaining a nuclear weapon. Faced with the threat of Western attack should a bomb become possible, Iran has also obtained a missile defense system from Russia to thwart such an attack. Russia has continually refused to cooperate with Western moves to sanction Iran, providing it with the diplomatic cover it needs to continue killing American soldiers in Iraq as it seeks to exercise imperial control over that troubled nation. How long will it be before we learn that Russian weapons supplied by the Kremlin and wielded by its Iranian friends are killing Americans in Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East?
And we must not forget that Russia is doing far more than making common cause with Iran in order to foment turmoil and instability in the Middle East. It is directly supporting Hamas itself, as well as Hezbollah and Syria, with diplomatic protection, weapons and lots of cold hard cash. And Russia's hostility is not limited to the Middle East; it is also providing weapons and diplomatic support to the crazed dictator Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, and seeking to cooperate with the abusive, anti-democratic communist regime in China.
The best near-term U.S. response to this neoSoviet "phoenix" rising from the ashes of the Evil Empire happens to be identical to the action needed to prevent the 21st century theocratic Hitler from getting his hands on nuclear weapons that we know he will use to plunge the globe into a planetary Armageddon: the invasion of Iran and destruction of the Islamic regime, its mission as the hub of global Islamic terrorism, and its three-decade war against the United States. This would also eliminate at a stroke Comrade Putin's last, best chance to hold the economies of the West hostage by proxy and take us all back to the Bad Old Days. It might also ultimately save Vlad's own ass as well, before he has to face the reality that it doesn't belong to him anymore.
As Robert Tracinski wrote a week ago:
The coming of the war with Iran has very little to do with our intentions and has everything to do with the enemy's intentions. Our only choice is how we will respond. Will we continue to evade the need to confront this threat - or will we finally begin to fight back?
A lot more asses than just Vlad's hang on the answer to that question.