Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It has come to something...

...when you think a Status of Forces Agreement would be an improvement. The recent massacre in Afghanistan turns out to have killed up to 96 civilians (a "legitimate strike", says the Pentagon), and after a series of incidents in which US soldiers have murdered civilians and declined to take responsibility, the Karzai administration is getting desperate. But such agreements always entail immunity for US troops, and no US administration is going to negotiate one that doesn't. Historically, these agreements have tended to be seen as humiliating in themselves. In fact, one of the earliest opposition statements from Khomeini attacked such an agreement between the US military and the Shah, which he said reduced the status of an Iranian to beneath that of a dog, since a US soldier would have more to answer for if he ran over a dog in America than if he ran over a human being in Iran.

This just speaks of the subjection of the Afghan parliament, and its absolute lack of authority either with its paymasters or in Afghanistan as a whole. Every indication is that they are struggling to keep their heads above water even as a nominal administration. The Taliban have long held most of the country, it seems. And this article by Jason Burke suggests that the Taliban are winning simply by creating a "parallel administration, which is more effective, more popular and more brutal than the government's". Maybe take Burke's reporting with a little pinch of salt, however: apparently, he doesn't know when he's talking to a well-known member of the Taliban and minister in Mullah Omar's cabinet.