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If Anti-Taliban Afghans Can't Unite, Let Them Form Separate Nations

October 27, 2001

Much has been made in the past few days of the difficulties involved in putting together a broad-based coalition to govern post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Some observers feel that the inability so far to create this governing scheme has led the United States to delay seriously attacking Taliban forces defending Kabul, because the U.S. wants to first have the new rulers chosen before toppling the Taliban.

Perhaps creating a viable coalition to rule all of Afghanistan is not, at least in the short term, a feasible goal.

The boundaries of modern Afghanistan were set in the late 19th century by British-ruled India and czarist Russia.  Unlike the thirteen American colonies, the ancestors of the inhabitants of present-day Afghanistan never at one point got together and decided to form a discrete political entity.

Just as in many other colonized areas of the world, boundaries created by colonial powers cut across and through ethnic regions.  The result is a crazy-quilt of tribes and ethic groups, each of which are dispersed among different nations.  Each individual nation contains a mixture of two or more tribes or ethnic groups who often have very little use for each other.

Indeed, as we know, vicious infighting in Afghanistan among the various ethnic groups, after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in the late 1980's, destroyed much of the country that hadn't already been destroyed by the Russians, and led to the rise of the Taliban, whom the people of Afghanistan at the time actually welcomed as being the only force able to restore order to their country.

The U.S. delay in prosecuting the war has led to an increasing rate of civilian casualties, and imperils millions with starvation this winter.  Accordingly, this war must be vigorously prosecuted and ended as soon as possible.

So why not let the Pashtuns rule the southern area where they predominate, and each of the other major ethnic groups individually, or together as the Northern Alliance, in their areas?  This can be a temporary arrangement, if the parties wish, pending further negotiations after the war to unify the country once again.

Waiting to vigorously prosecute the war for an arrangement that may be virtually impossible to achieve can only lead to disaster.

Toppling the Taliban and bringing this war to a more rapid conclusion can only be a good thing for the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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