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The Abdul Haq Fiasco: The Story Gets Worse

U.S. Continues Its History of Not Supporting Those It Encourages to Revolt

October 28, 2001

As most followers of the increasingly benighted U.S. war effort in Afghanistan now know, Abdul Haq, a former guerrilla commander who was seen by some American officials as the potential leader of an anti-Taliban uprising, was just caught by the Taliban inside Afghanistan and executed.

At first it was reported that the only assistance Haq had received from the United States was a satellite phone.  That's pathetic.  The guy is trying to foment a revolt against the Taliban from inside Afghanistan, and all we give him is a satellite phone?!

Well, that would mean that at least if he were in danger, he could call supporting aircraft and our forces would rescue him, right?

Well, no.

When Haq realized he was surrounded by Taliban troops, he apparently called Robert McFarlane, Ronald Reagan's national security advisor, who in turn called the CIA, which passed on Haq's coordinates to the military. 

Stories have differed as to whether any U.S. warplanes attempted a rescue.  The latest account, in The Washington Post, is that an unmanned CIA drone aircraft armed with antitank missiles attempted to prevent Haq's capture by the Taliban.

Why didn't Haq have direct link to a manned aircraft that could have rescued him?  He had to play the game of telephone while his life was in danger?  Fomenting an anti-Taliban revolt is not worth allocating some live Special Ops support to?

What makes the story even more galling is that now Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirms that Haq did receive some additional kind of U.S. intelligence assistance.  So even in an assisted operation, this is how we protect our allies?

The topper is Rumsfeld's explanation:

The assistance, unfortunately, was from the air, and he was on the ground.

And regrettably, he was killed.

A statement of more incoherent banality would be hard to imagine.

The Abdul Haq fiasco fits in with past U.S. instances of failing to help those we encourage to revolt.

For example, at the last minute, President John F. Kennedy withdrew air support from the Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and they were slaughtered.  More recently, the U.S. encouraged the Kurds to revolt against Saddam Hussein, and then abandoned the Kurds to Hussein's revenge.

How easy is it going to be now for the U.S. to convince any Afghan that our support will be there if they undertake anti-Taliban action?

One final note: even though he was strongly anti-Taliban, Abdul Haq opposed the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan:

He said that the bombing was a terrible mistake, that it was rallying Afghans around the besieged Taliban.

Could it be that Haq wasn't a compliant enough anti-Taliban leader for the Bush administration, that the U.S. deliberately let Haq be killed in order to silence a potentially powerful voice against the U.S. bombing?

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

More on U.S. War Strategy

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