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Hoh: Identify The Enemy In Afghanistan

This discussion on Afghanistan with Matthew Hoh at Bloggingheads.tv is excellent, thoughtful, and worth your time to listen for the entire hour. Hoh understands the local dynamics, particularly the rural Pashtuns in the southern and eastern areas of Afghanistan, and Robert Wright asks intelligent questions throughout.

Essentially, Matthew Hoh's judgment - one which ultimately compelled him to resign his position at State - is that we should withdraw from most or all of the highly compartmentalized rural areas of Afghanistan where we are fought by locals simply because we are there and increasing the Taliban's political capital as a result.

One of the most important takeaways for the average viewer, listener or reader is to understand the distinction between the actual Taliban ('Taliban Central') and those Pashtuns who, in their localized areas, are simply aligned with the Taliban. They align with the Taliban because they do not want to be occupied and they do not want a distant central government ruling over them and bringing in taxes.

While the episode is titled "Leaving Afghanistan," Hoh does not advocate a complete withdrawal. Rather, he advocates - as I understand - negotiated ceasefires (each very localized in nature) in order to allow the local populations/communities/tribes a measure of autonomy and self-governance in order to politically diminish the relationship between them and the Taliban and to politically weaken the Taliban. Left would be peace-keeping forces in Kabul and in the areas where the three primary ethnic groups territories meet.

He is spot on when he describes how the term Taliban is used too broadly and loosely. The first rule of warfare is to properly identify your enemy. Hoh is challenging you to revisit that. You may or may not agree with what Matthew Hoh is saying or the solutions as he sees them, but as John Derbyshire said, "He is an honest man."

His observations deserve your consideration.

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