A Former Afghanistan Peace Corps Volunteer Speaks

loy jirga

A good friend sent this message and agreed I could post it. When we were a lot younger, he was in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan. His thoughts follow.

This article was shared by an old Peace Corps buddy this morning.

Given the precociousness of our government’s decision making, the US might well pull out Afghanistan next Tuesday. Or Thursday. Whatever…

What would follow might be a sudden “takeover” by the Taliban. But let’s not forget that the last time the Taliban ran most of Afghanistan, the country descended into civil war. It would again.

Afghanistan has never been a country. It has been a collection of ethnic and geographic groups that were pretty good at keeping the peace when left alone.

Call it romantic post-analysis, and it may well be, but had the loya jirga of 2002 been left to conduct itself (rather than being orchestrated by Bonn, the UN, and Washington), a journey towards peace might have begun. But the outside powers (mainly the US) fancied a modern state that would be a friend of the international order.

Most of us would not like an Afghanistan fashioned by a loya jirga, but then, few of us are particularly fond of the Afghanistan fashioned by, and here let me be polite, fashioned by more-or-less well-meaning western more-or-less democracies of capitalist interests.

America’s longest war has been sufficiently long and vacuous that a new solution for Afghanistan’s future has ripened in the region, a solution called Pakistan and a Pakistan that is no friend of Afghanistan but desperately wants to tame the land of and beyond the Kyber Pass so that it can turn its full attention towards India, a more juicy plum and a more prickly cactus.

I doubt that Pakistan wants Afghanistan. But Pakistan wants a Durand Line respected by Afghanistan and if it takes moving Afghan mountains and people to achieve that end, then an American-led desertion of Afghanistan will be, in Pakistan’s eyes, a move in the right direction.

It is only January One. And already I grow tired. I do not have the energy to contemplate what effect increased Pakistani influence on Afghanistan might have on the countries across the Oxus and, unhappy to contemplate, on the erstwhile power that once ruled the other side of the Oxus.