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
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.