They met, they talked, they dispersed. The three were Presidents Obama, Karzai and Zardari.
Mr. Obama said simply that “we meet today as three sovereign nations joined by a common goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their ability to operate in either country in the future.” Link
The common goal outlined by Obama is not commonly shared by the three leaders and their constituents.
First: Al Qaeda is not an entity, a wholesome, unitary organisation, based on Pennsylvania Avenue or the Avenue of Americas that can be obliterated.
It is an idea without headquarters.
Ideas cannot be fought with guns, bombs and drones. Doing so will only force the Goliaths to select their weapons to find David. They can and should be fought with better ideas.
This is the universal dilemma faced by those who attempt to fight al Qaeda.
Second: Neither of these three leaders have the full support of their constituents.
Karzai is widely seen as the Mayor of Kabul. His influence in the rest of Afghanistan is marginal. The only thing that works in Afghanistan is sackfuls of greenback. And that too only with the warlords who have carved Afghanistan into niches.
Zardari has been parachuted because the US wanted Musharraf to share powers with civilians. The original plan backfired with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Zardari has largeely wasted the opportunity and is mostly confiend to the President House in Islamabad, when not abroad attending to his personal as well state business.
Obama, despite his personal popularity, has to face the neoconzix remnants in the US who still hold a considerable influence in the Congress and the media.
The Talibans are impervious to all this. Their sole demand is simple: that all colonial powers leave Afghanistan and let them settle their differences by themselves.
Osama, of course would disagree with all this.
Third: The three musketeers lack the will while their opponent has it in abundance.
The US has more sophisticated armaments in stock, and its forces are better equipped to engage the enemy combatants then it did in Vietnam, but lacks the will to really fight it out.
Iraq has been a fiasco from the beginning.
Now, they are hell bent on getting their noses bloodied in that wasteland. Despite claims to the contrary, their is no viable exit strategy.
Karzai’s edicts run little beyond the Presidential palace in Kabul. Elsewhere, drug money, ransom money, and US cash reigns supreme. That would change if Talibans gain an upper hand. Time is on their side, as their opponents lack in belief and will.
Zardari, the allegedly corrupt, former polo playing corrupt playboy is, to use Ardeshir Cowasjee’s coinage, an accidental President. I call him the Co-chairman of the hand written will. He was fighting corruption cases against him in European courts from his refuge in NYC and in 2007 had submitted signed affidavits by NY physicians and psychiatrists that attested to his mental incapability, to wriggle out of the hearings. Musharraf’s NRO (National Reconciliation Order) bailed out the Bhuttos under Bush’s prodding. She was assassinated.
Zardari is untrained, uneducated, inexperienced. And the problems he inherited would daunt an experienced politician. The hangover from Army excesses, the infighting between political parties, absence of law and order (a prime beef of the neo Talibans), corruption both blatant and gratuitous, shortage of basic necessities, lack of most basic health and education coverage. And to top off above, the sinking world Economy. If this sounds I am even obliquely trying to defend Zardari, you are mistaken. Am just adding a perspective to the task he maneuvered himself into.
And the ills were exacerbated by his choice of aides and handlers. He rewarded his cronies with plum postings and together they led to the mess he finds himself in today.
The neo Talibans as well as the original Talibans, while lacking in sophistication, have a unshakable firm belief in the righteousness of their cause. They are simpletons. Couple this with an even greater belief in Allah and you have a fearless enemy you do not want to face.
Is there a way out of this seemingly confusing imbroglio? We have to look into history and see how the idea wars were fought in the past and learn from them.
He, who has a better idea would win the battle.