Monday, January 04, 2010
What are these Taliban?
What are we up against in Afghanistan? What are these Taliban?
On Wednesday, December 30th, 2009, a man, reportedly wearing an Afghan National Army uniform detonated an explosive device concealed on his person at Forward Operating Base Chapman, a CIA counter-terrorism hub in the Khost region of Afghanistan. Seven persons were killed and six wounded. The dead included CIA officers, contractors, and the Agency's base chief. CIA officers have described the attack as "devastating."
According to reports, Chapman base focuses on infiltration. That is, they work on "turning people," acquiring informants, infiltrating enemy networks. The bomber is thought to have been a double-agent. He was a person whom the CIA thought they had "flipped."
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough said that, the way he heard it, the bomber had contacted the Agency, communicating that he had urgent information and needed to meet with them immediately. His communication was so convincing, and he was held in such trust, that the base chief and other high-placed officers wanted to be on-hand for the briefing.
And then, disaster.
When one reflects on the significance of the event, one is compelled to pause for a befuddled moment and wonder just what in hell we are up against in Afghanistan.
This monstrous attack conjures dark thoughts and images. Dwell for a moment on the evolution of reasoning and emotions that must have occurred in the mind of the bomber. He carefully and skillfully deceives experienced CIA officers trained (I assume) to be wary and suspicious. Using the utmost caution and care, he constructs an elaborate ruse that must certainly have been the endeavor of many months. He so completely wins the trust of the CIA that he is brought into the presence of the base chief and high level staff without being subjected to a personal search.
And now, imagine those final seconds before the detonation. Did the bomber shout something? Did the victims become aware of the deception before they died? What final acts of desperation and heroism occurred in that room in that instant?
These are horrible contemplations.
This terrible act was a message from the Taliban. "We are unbowed and unbroken. We are fanatic in our determination. We can get to you." And also this: "We cannot be 'flipped.'"
I am utterly at a loss as to what to do in the face of such savagery. If the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, we unleash these Taliban on the long-suffering Afghan people. If we escalate, we are drawn deeper into a conflict that has the potential to bankrupt our country and ignite a full-scale world war in which every country on the face of this Earth is forced to choose sides.
President Obama gave us some straight talk last month in his Afghanistan speech. His remarks were stark and sober. With the bombing at Forward Operating Base Chapman, the Taliban makes its rebuttal.