Monday, March 2, 2009

NATO can't defeat Taliban, Canadian Prime Minister

The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, admits to Fareed Zakaria on CNN what he should have said on the floor of the House: NATO can't defeat Taliban. Finally, there is some realization of the ground realities in Afghanistan.

The only way to deal with the extremist ideology of Taliban is to leave the Afghans work it out amongst themselves. Foreign forces cannot be the instrument of change. In fact, in the past few millennia, foreigners enjoyed a very poor track record in influencing change in Afghanistan.

Last year, I participated in a panel discussion on TVO ( along with Canadian experts on Afghanistan. While others believed that Afghanistan was on the path to prosperity and that the Taliban were almost defeated, I was of the view that this will be the least likely outcome. Furthermore, I argued that a NATO victory in Afghanistan would require a surrender from Taliban. Given that NATO is fighting against a non-conventional force, whose members are farmers by day and warriors by night, a surrender did not seem likely to me. A year later, the Canadian Prime Minister also agrees.

In fact, the Americans had initiated a dialogue with the Taliban in fall 2008, using the Saudis as intermediaries. Noticing the change in the American stance toward the Taliban, the remaining NATO members changed their rhetoric accordingly. The Canadian Prime Minister is in fact a little late in smelling the coffee, or pot, or whatever that grows these days in Afghanistan.

To watch the program that was originally aired on Feb 28, 2008, click HERE.

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