Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Resistance fighter negotiates with former torturer (Afghanistan edition)

The Taliban could easily turn Kabul airport into a trap, creating another Dien Bien Phu for the US. However I suspect they are advised by the Russians and Chinese to grant the Americans a peaceful exit from their 20 year disaster. The negotiations are presumably about the ~$9 billion of frozen assets in the Afghanistan treasury, future sanctions against a Taliban-led government, etc.

CIA Director William Burns held secret meeting in Kabul with Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar (WaPo) 
President Biden dispatched his top spy, a veteran of the Foreign Service and the most decorated diplomat in his Cabinet, amid a frantic effort to evacuate people from Kabul international airport in what Biden has called “one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history.” 
The CIA declined to comment on the Taliban meeting, but the discussions are likely to have involved an impending Aug. 31 deadline for the U.S. military to conclude its airlift of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies. The Biden administration is under pressure from some allies to keep U.S. forces in the country beyond the end of the month to assist the evacuation of tens of thousands of citizens of the United States and Western countries as well as Afghan allies desperate to escape Taliban rule. 
Britain, France and other U.S. allies have said more time is needed to evacuate their personnel, but a Taliban spokesman warned that the United States would be crossing a “red line” if it kept troops beyond the 31st, which he said would trigger unspecified “consequences.” 
For Baradar, playing the role of counterpart to a CIA director comes with a tinge of irony 11 years after the spy agency arrested him in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation that put him in prison for eight years. ...

There are many more like Baradar. Taliban leader Gholam Ruhani (circled in the photo at top) enjoyed America's tender embrace for many years at Guantanamo.  

I highly recommend The Battle of Algiers for context, as did the Pentagon in 2003 -- to no avail.

The highly dramatic film is about the organization of a guerrilla movement and the illegal methods, such as torture, used by the colonial power to contain it. Algeria succeeded in gaining independence from the French, which Pontecorvo addresses in the film's epilogue.[3] 
The film has been critically acclaimed. Both insurgent groups and state authorities have considered it to be an important commentary on urban guerrilla warfare. 
2003 Pentagon screening 
During 2003, the press reported that United States Department of Defense (the Pentagon) offered a screening of the movie on August 27. The Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict regarded it as useful for commanders and troops facing similar issues in occupied Iraq.[38] 
A flyer for the screening said: How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.[39] 
According to the Defense Department official in charge of the screening, "Showing the film offers historical insight into the conduct of French operations in Algeria, and was intended to prompt informative discussion of the challenges faced by the French."[39]
Re: Dien Bien Phu, colonial wars, and Iraq / Afghanistan:
General Georges Catroux presided over a commission of inquiry into the defeat. The commission's final report ("Rapport concernant la conduite des opérations en Indochine sous la direction du général Navarre") concluded: 
"... The event itself was in fact, both in terms of public opinion and of the military conduct of the war and operations, merely the end result of a long process of degradation of a faraway enterprise which, not having the assent of the nation, could not receive from the authorities the energetic impulse, and the size and continuity of efforts, required for success. ..."

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