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Saturday, October 28, 2006 

Russian War Vets Say Afghans Impossible to Beat

MOSCOW -- Senior Sgt. Sergei Kirjushin spent the most intense 18 months of his life in Afghanistan in the late 1980s with an elite Red Army airborne regiment that sometimes fought Islamic holy warriors at such close quarters he could "feel their breath."

Like a surprisingly large number of the former Soviet Union's 620,000 Afghan war vets, the burly ex-paratrooper is aware the Canadian army is now fighting some of the very same mujahideen and their progeny for control of the same unforgiving, arid landscape.

Kirjushin's convinced nothing good will come of Canada's war in Afghanistan!

Canada.com

Buck,

You love pointing out that the Russians couldn't take over Afghanistan eh? As if we are in the exact same position.

The main difference, as I see it, is that we now have a legitimate Afghan government (however imperfect) that wants us in Afghanistan, and that will fight by our sides there against the Taliban.

We've already accomplished what the Soviets couldn't, which is to kick out the Taliban (or Mujahadeen in their case), if only temporarily.

Things are different now, although by no means is the outcome assured, I'll grant you that.

Check out my place, we're having a fun little debate about the mission in general. And I have an exclusive on a dream Layton had when he was talking to Mullah Omar...

Chronological History of Failed Invasions of Afghanistan:

1839-1842
* First Anglo-Afghan War
* After some resistance, Amir Dost Mohammad Khan surrenders to the British and is deported to India.
* Shah Shuja is installed as a "puppet king" by the British. (1839-1842)
* April 1842--Shah Shuja killed by Afghans.
* Afghans passionately continue their struggle against the British.
* Akbar Khan--Afghan hero--victorious against the British.
* In January 1842, out of 16,500 soldiers (and 12,000 dependents) only one survivor, of mixed British-Indian garrison, reaches the fort in Jalalabad, on a stumbling pony.

1843
* After the annihilation of British troops, Afghanistan once again becomes independent, and the exiled Amir, Dost Mohammad Khan comes back and occupies the royal throne (1843-1863).

1880
*Second Anglo-Afghan War:
* Battle of Maiwand
* July 1880, Afghan woman named Malalai carries the Afghan flag forward after the soldiers carrying the flag were killed by the British. She becomes a heroine for her show of courage and valour.
* Abdur Rahman takes throne of Afghanistan as Amir.
* The British, shortly after the accession of the new Amir, withdraw from Afghanistan

1978--
* Bloody Communist coup: Daoud is killed, Taraki is named President, and Karmal becomes his deputy Prime Minister. Tensions rise.
* Mass arrests, tortures, and arrests takes place.
* Afghan flag is changed.
* Taraki signs treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union.
* June--Afghan guerrilla (Mujahideen) movement is born.

1979--1986
* US ambassador killed
* Taraki is killed and Hafizullah Amin takes the Presidency.
* Amin is executed, and he is replaced with Babrak Karmal.
* Soviet Union (Russia) invade in December.

1987–1989
*defeat of Soviets eminent.
* Peace accords signed in Geneva.
* Soviet Union defeated by Afghanistan, total withdrawal by the Soviets occurred on Feb. 15, 1989.
* Experts agree that at least 40,000-50,000 Soviets lost their lives in action, besides the wounded, suicides, and murders.
* Mujahideen continue to fight against Najibullah's regime.

Wow Olaf you are so smart. There are so many things wrong I don't even know where to begin.

Very good Buck,

You've somehow proved that for some mystical reason, Afghanistan is scientifically unable to be conquered.

However, the difference is that none of these failed imperialistic invasions had even passing support of Afghan people, which I would venture the current government does. Maybe not in the south, but I think all of those around Kabul, and many in the north and the west, are appreciative.

As I said, the failed soviet invasion of Afghanistan is not somehow proof that the current Afghan government/NATO alliance will fail against the Taliban, and mentioning past wars from a different era does nothing to change my mind.

Buck,

Now we're being blamed for drought and famine? I completely agree with the articles that Canada, and NATO, should contribute more to both emergency assistance and long term development. However, I don't think that this best accomplished by pulling NATO troops out of Afghanistan, leaving Western humanitarian workers completely indefensible against Taliban attacks.

I AGREE MORE HAS TO BE DONE, which is what such news stories, to me, indicate. I agree with this completely. However I don't use that as an excuse to pull NATO troops out and let the Taliban take the country back over.

The position of the Conservative Government of Canada and their supporters on the Afghanistan mission can best be described as naive bravado. Their fellow citizens stand in amazement at the depth of the stupidity.

Haha,

Peculiar defence of a position. First El Beastor says that I say so many things wrong that he doesn't know where to start (very convincing, by the way), and then Buck ignores my defence completely and simply says that the Conservatives are wrong, as if I was of the exact same opinion as the Conservative government.

Indeed, I'm critical of our government, and all other NATO governments, for not doing enough to provide physical security and reconstruction and aid.

Olaf - Olaf - Olaf!'
Broaden the options my friend. Why do you insist that there are only two (black & white) options open with regard to the situation in Afghanistan?

It is utterly simplistics to insist that the only two choices we have here are:
1) Stay and fight the 'taliban'
2) Completely and utterly pull out.

Can you not see any other options between those two extremes?

Eventually all conflicts that seem to deadlock end up in some sort of talks - negotiations - parlay.

And when Jack Layton, weeks and weeks ago suggested that at some point representatives of the west and representatives of the taliban and OTHER insurgent groups, will need to meet, talk for a few hours without shooting and determine if there are options other than ongoing military stalemate.

The minute Layton said that, the right wing (hhmm hhmm) went off the deep end and acted in typical reactionary, right wing, black/white , angry and simplistic ways.

Get real. This is not a black/white simplicity. Bring dialogue to this debate that recognizes the complexity without the bloody adolescent republican - conservative mindset.

Buck,

Fair enough... if members of the Taliban and other insurgents are interested in talking, assuming they will recognize the sovereignty of the Afghan government, I'm all for it. I'd be in favour of granting ex-Talibani's amnesty, so long as they are willing to recognize the sovereignty of the Afghan government and lay down their arms. I've said this before.

I'm not black and white my friend. But, some are. Mullah Omar is a good example of someone who is black and white. He will not consider negotiations with the Afghan government.

See, the difference between Harper and Layton (both of whom I disagree with, although one more than the other), is that Harper says he won't pull troops out, while Layton seems to say he'll pull troops out... of southern afghanistan. He says he'll bring troops home (which I assume means Canada), while at the same time says he'll put more troops in reconstruction missions. How many and where, Jack? He won't say. Why won't he say? Because he's trying to play the 'bring them home' crowd, at the same time he plays the crowd who thinks we shouldn't abandon afghanistan altogether.

Here's my position Buck: Send more NATO troops, and send much more emergency aid, and much more long term reconstruction teams, in order to benefit those in the North and the West who have relative peace.

What's your position Buck? It's somewhere between a full pullout of NATO troops and a rebalancing of troops towards feel good, reconstruction/development missions, which will surely be safe from Taliban attack without NATO troops there to protect such initiatives. Clarify for us, as Jack Layton wont, what is Buck's position?

The fine art of negotiations is best practiced by individuals who are skilled at issue identification, conflict resolution by means of finding commonality - no matter how seemingly insignificant. Work with what you can.

There may be much merit in itemizing a number of options:
-use of peace keeping forces from other 'islamic countries' such as Egypt or Turkey to stand between the 'official' government and all of the insurgent groups. The presence of western non-islamic troops from Canada and the UK is obviously a trigger point in terms of acceptance by the local populations. Clearly the western nations would have to fund the use of these other troops - Bush Sr. did the same thing with his use of islamic troops in Gulf War I.

Determining if there is a way to conduct powersharing government where some of the things the taliban want to see can be acomplished WHILE at the same time letting them know that the world community will not condone certain Wahabi extremes in the Justice system (amputations - status of women).

Using the 'people' to plead (with all parties in conflict) that the nation is weary of war - all sides involved in shooting (Nato, taliban, mujahadeen remnants, opium farmers, hashish manufacuters, opium cartels, various war lords) MUST find a way to stop shooting, stop bombing and see if a truce or ceasefire can be implemented (because ONCE implemented, massive reconstrucion can begin - nothing can be effectively repaired or constructed UNTIL the shooting STOPS).

My point is this. Shooting is NOT working. Skilled negoitiations and conflict resolution should be tried in the environment of a ceasefire.

And even though Ireland is NOT as primitive a situation as Afghanistan is, the conflict between the Irish Republican Army and the British government has now reached a point that as a result of ongoing TALKS AND NEGOTIATIONS - THE FIGHTING AND TERRORIST ACTIVITY HAS STOPPED.

I hate right wing conflict resolution.

right wing conflict resolution won us WW2....

in any case, I fully support the combat mission....you can't deliver aid if your being shot at...but I also think billions more need to poured into reconstruction.

There is absolutely NO similarity between WW2 and Afghanistan. No comparison in any way shape or form.

Olaf,

"The main difference, as I see it, is that we now have a legitimate Afghan government (however imperfect) that wants us in Afghanistan,"

From the Russian perspective, the exact same thing could be said of the Najibullah regime in the 80's (and until the release of the stinger missiles in 1986, the mujahadeen was all but defeated by the Russians).

And the Saudis and Pakistanis were the main backers back then, they continue to be the main source of funding and support for both Al Queda and the Taliban. The only difference is that its NATO rather than the Russians, and the weapons are a little more advanced.

Since your premise is flawed, there isn't much point in talking about the rest of your stuff.

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