I used to read the German weekly newspaper "Die Zeit". Shucks, I used to subscribe to it when I was a student. Great big thick weekly newspaper, full of solid German research on an amazing variety of topics, well written and about as close to a Sunday New York Times as this expat could find back then.
Now? Greatly shrunken and openly defeatist.
Here is an English translation, here the original article. The author, Ulrich Ladurner, is based in Islamabad, in Pakistan.
This article drips of open defeatism: it's not a critical article, but rather one that blankly and clearly states that the war in Afghanistan is clearly lost and that we need to realize this and get out before there is more bloodshed.
Don't think that's true?
There is no real argument presented in the article, but rather the author simply states that because the West cannot stop the Taliban from making attacks, the war is lost.
Good lord, what drivel. Nothing more, nothing less.
I'm all for critical journalism: if anything, we don't have enough. But critical journalism, in the form needed, simply doesn't exist anymore.
This is not an article that analyzes power relationships and looks to see if and how the Taliban are winning: it is an article that merely states that the war is lost because we can't stop the Taliban from making attacks. Ye Gods.
Further, the author says that the idea that the Islamists would celebrate a victory if the West were to admit defeat is pure propaganda, distorting reality and reducing the Afghanis to "mere chess pieces", and that this is somehow destructive to the West.
According to the author, talking of defeat means abandoning our illusions and accepting reality.
The author, the foreign editor of Die Zeit, already has a reputation of being one of the biggest apologists for the Iranian government in the German press (see here, in German), and has apparently completely lost the ability to differentiate between propaganda and reality: his work is characterized by the usual silly blind acceptance of what people there say to western journalists as being naturally true and of course reflecting reality: there is little that could be farther from the truth than taking the word of islamists in Pakistan and his contacts in Iran as having anything to do with any sort of objective truth.
Which apparently is the core of his belief that the West cannot win in Afghanistan.
Actually, it would be quite easy for the West to win in Afghanistan and thoroughly destroy the Taliban. Of course, it would mean destroying the Pashtun nation that exists between Afghanistan and Pakistan, destroying the infrastructure in order to force the people out of the mountains and destroying their light infantry forces. It means accepting casualties, it means killing a lot of "innocents" (in quotes because in this asymmetric warfare, the only innocents are those who can learn and have abandoned the fight entirely in order to survive) in order to bring peace to the region. Given the sensitive nature of our societies and the need to appease the chattering classes, this won't happen.
The question here is not whether the West can win or lose, but much more fundamentally: how do we stop the violence in the region? The Afghanis are exhausted after 3 decades of war (the coup in Afghanistan that deposed the King in 1973 fell apart by 1978, and given that the PDPA, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, was a tool of the Soviets, the collapse of the Doud regime in 1978 led to the Soviet invasion in 1979 to impose a Soviet-style revoltionary regime on the Afghanis, and that is 30 years ago this year...) and their interest is in survival and progeny. The Pashtuns in the region know this and exploit the exhaustion to take political control and impose yet another foreign regime on the Afghanis.
There would be no war if it were not for the Pashtuns out of the tribal lands of Pakistan. The Afghanis don't want the Taliban and the Pashtuns: they want peace. They want to be left alone, to tend to their gardens and to their tribal ways, including tribal feuds and the highly complex tribal relationships that make up such societies.
Giving the Afghanis away isn't achieving peace: Ulrich Laderner isn't looking for peace. He's arguing for submission to the will of the Taliban.
That's what makes him an apologist and clearly on the side of defeatism.
Why do I use the term defeatism? Because clearly Laderner thinks that defeat is better than victory. Submission is better than resistance, submission is better than independence, submission is better than anything else.
Which puts him on the same level as people like Quisling, Lord Haw-Haw, Tokyo Rose, Hanoi Jane and the other sycophants and puppets of totalitarian regimes.