Holbrooke: Afghanistan is not Vietnam nor Bosnia

Richard Holbrooke is one of the most active U.S. diplomats in last fifteens years, two of three last administrations used his services in highly important missions in Bosnia, on Kosovo and today in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a moments when WikiLeaks is reporting about sever abuses of human rights in Iraq, what could leave a great impact on Afghanistan and Pakistan army and diplomatic leaders are reaching media in effort to supress effects.  Both sides confirmed that Talibans are reaching officials in Kabul in some sort of peace talks, but Holbrooke is not confident to say that Karzai administration and Talibans are conducting peace negotiations.


Holbrooke stands that actions taken by general Petraeus and NATO forces in Afghanistan are forcing Talibans to start peace talks with Karzai. He also said that peace talks which are held by this moment are talks without U.S. presence. As he said to the CNN’s Fareed Zakaria major problem for Afghanistan is diversity of tribal and power groups what’s completely different from previous cases in Vietnam and Bosnia.

“ A peace deal requires agreements, and you don’t make agreements with your friends, you make agreements with your enemies. But, in this particular case, unlike the two issues I mentioned a moment ago, there is no clear single address that you go to. There’s no Ho Chi Minh. There’s no Slobodan Milosevic. There’s no Palestinian authority. There is a widely dispersed group of — of people that we roughly call the enemy. There’s al Qaeda, with which there’s no possibility of any discussion at all. There is the Afghan Taliban, sometimes called the Quetta Shura, under Mullah Omar, and that seems to be a loose organization with a very shadowy arrangement. There’s the Pakistani Taliban, the TTP, the ones who trained, rather fortunately, ineptly trained the Times Square Bomber, targeting Pakistan. There is the Haqqani network, a notorious, separate group of Afghan Taliban inside Pakistan who do a great deal of the — of the mayhem and carnage inside Afghanistan. And then, finally, there’s the LET, which you’re very familiar with. You did that extraordinary “Terror in Mumbai” program. And the LET is one that Americans don’t pay much attention to, but their goal here is clearly to provoke the maximum amount of conflict between India and Pakistan. Now, I’ve just listed five groups. An expert could add another 30. So the idea of peace talks, as you — to use your phrase, or negotiations, to use another phrase, doesn’t really add up to the way this thing is going to evolve”, said Holbrooke.

On direct question is he optimistic or pessimistic about regions future, Holbrooke respond that he doesn’t want to be optimistic nor pessimistic but he’s confident that Afghanistan’s case is not hopeless. Afghanistan will remain very important issue for Obama’s administration and only option to achieve peace is not through army win but through negotiations.

Latest information’s on possible location of Osama bin Laden are saying that he’s living comfortable life somewhere in North-western Pakistan, probably in Waziristan region. Holbrooke said that this region will remain high on a list of importance for solution of this problem. Men who succeed in interviewing bin Laden, CNN’s correspondent Peter Bergen, said that is quite sure that bin Laden is in Northern Pakistan.

“The consensus is he’s in Northwest Pakistan. The consensus is that he’s not living in a cave. He’s living in a house. It’s — that’s clear from videotapes that he occasionally releases. His clothes are pretty well pressed. Caves don’t usually have laundry facilities. He’s well read. He’s talking about Norm Chomsky books he’s recently read. You know, this is not the sort of activity you do in a cave”, said Bergen.

According to Bergen diplomacy failed to incorporate their elements in local population which would be able to communicate with local in their mother language and to learn more about local power players and tribal configuration.

“We need to get back into the sort of espionage business. That’s a word that — people don’t usually use this word, “espionage.” But we’re not very good at spying. What we need, if we’re ever going to find Bin Laden, is going to be a penetration of al Qaeda or a group affiliated with al Qaeda. You know, I think that we have got better intelligence coming out of the tribal regions in Pakistan, hence the, you know, the better drone program. But I think that as the intelligence community’s risk averse, if — maybe if the stakes were higher and we face a bigger threat from al Qaeda, some of these concerns about can — can somebody pass the background check? Do they have relations in Arab countries? Have they visited Pakistan? The kinds of things you’d actually want are actually, you know, hindering people being hired at these intelligence agencies”, said Bergen.

After all it seems that American diplomacy and army forces will have a lot work in front of them before they achieve any positive results in the future. It seems that American’s would need new generation of James Bond in the field and new strategy if they want to win this battle.

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