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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Discourse 300 Jonathan and the Hawks

Discourse 300
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Jonathan and the Northern Hawks

The Northern Political Forum that took place last week in Kaduna was a significant attempt by the Jonathan camp to win the PDP ticket that will enable him continue with his presidency until 2015, presumably. The meeting was attended by some notable figures from the three northern zones who, though short of rejecting zoning totally, unanimously approved the PDP ticket for Jonathan in 2011, according to what was shown on the national television. On the one hand, their decision raised hopes for Jonathan and, on the other, generates some fears about his ability to deliver on his promises.
After the welcome address by the Governor of Kaduna State who spoke the usual official language of Nigerian unity, the ball was set rolling by Solomon Lar who argued that zoning was adopted as a temporary measure which was meant to be disposed of when our democracy has matured, literally saying now is the time. Coming at his heel was Hassan Adamu. After affirming that no one can win the Presidency without the support of the North and recalling how the North has made sacrifices before to ensure that the country remains united, he posited that this is another opportunity where the region will exhibit its large heart. But this time, in return for its support, the President must be given what Adamu called a “northern agenda” which will protect the interest of the region. Adamu’s stand was strongly supported by the Sokoto Prince, Shehu Malami. The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bayero Nafada, also called on the North to make sacrifice for the sake of the unity of the country. He was practical in his argument. The North, he said, would have sought the same ticket were it in Jonathan’s shoes.
Then came the turn of zonal representatives of the PDP. Barnabas Gemade started by presenting the position of the Northcentral. He drafted God into the equation, saying zoning the presidency could be man-made as it was in 1999 or God ordained as it is in the case of Jonathan. Impliedly, Gemade is asking: Who are we to act against the wish of God then? But more than that, Gemade hinted the core argument of the pro-Jonathan group: the ticket of Yar’adua and Jonathan were joint and inseparable. So Jonathan should continue in 2011 as if he were Yar’adua. Kaulaha Aliyu from the Northeast joined the choir by arguing that zoning was a child of necessity and it is not required now. Ibrahim Ida presented the view of the Northwest PDP. However, the NTA transmission became inaudible and he was cut short. But with Shagari and Shehu Malami at the summit, I once can pretty right predict what Ida said.
Women, for the first time were called to express their opinion in such a gathering. They said, in the words of their spokeswoman, Mariam Waziri, that they are indifferent to zoning as “they” were not consulted when it was introduced in the first place. Pubic office, she said, should be given based on merit regardless of one’s religious and ethnic background. Jonathan merits it, in short, according to “northern women.”
So came the communiqué, read by Jerry Gana the foremost propagandist of Obasanjo’s third term bid, affirming the support of the gathering to, one, free and fair elections; two, the development of the North, promising a seminar to be held shortly on how the North would be developed economically; and, three, Jonathan’s ticket in 2011 election. The voice was Gana’s, but the logic was Gemade’s: the zoning ticket that produced Yar’adua and Goodluck as President and Vice-President respectively was a joint ticket that is inseparable; “the demise of one does not invalidate the other”, said Gana. Shi ke nan.
Of course, I forgot to mention the names of people like Mantu, Muhammad Abba Aji and so on. What these people said was obvious. I am rather more concerned by those I did not see, Adamu Ciroma, TY Danjuma, Iorchiya Ayu, Waku, Atiku and other proponents of zoning. Part of the problem is the misappropriation of names where any group today can claim to be representing a region. Are we therefore likely to see a counter-summit of pro-zoning supporters from the North and the Southeast? Or have they been beaten to submission? It is curious to note how appeal to national unity and patriotism is used now to repeal zoning just as they were used to introduce it in 1999.. If you have opposed zoning in 1999 you were unpatriotic; if you support it now you are still unpatriotic! Mhmm. Politicians can be good philosophers, I think. Even Aristotle cannot argue better.
It is logical for a summit like this to arrive at this conclusion given the track record of the politicians who gathered there and the nature of the country’s economy. I cannot remember any of the politicians at the summit who owns a surviving factory from which he earns a living. If anything, they have only helped to ruin the few in the North established by Lebanese and other northerners. Our political class, generally, is completely dependent on government, a reality that makes them compliant to the wishes of any incumbent. That is why coups were the only channels through which undesirable regimes could be removed for most part of African history. Jonathan, therefore, must not see their effort as genuine. It is rather an expression of their dependency on whoever is in power.
For now, their support will sound like music to his ears, but he must not forget that the same class were responsible for the failure of all previous leaders. They rundown the Shagari government and rigged the 1983 elections (Shagari attended the summit); they toed the path of IBB in ruining our economy to non-recoverable levels and participated in his ill-fated transition program. They served as ministers of Abacha and approved his actions until when he failed to handover power to them. They brought Obasanjo to power and assisted him in running the most corrupt government and the worst civilian dictatorship. They conscripted Yar’adua knowing very well that he was terminally ill after failing to convince Nigerians to allow Obasanjo a third term. (One can say that majority of those who attended the summit were pro-Obasanjo, reincarnating the fear that Jonathan represents Obasanjo’s third term) And now, they are racing to support Jonathan by doing everything possible to deny the zoning they enacted ten years earlier when they wanted to sell a southern ticket to Northerners.
It is understandable and expected that the President is becoming expedient in his bid to win the PDP ticket. However, I have a number of fears. First, I am afraid when I heard them speak at the summit about a “northern agenda” that will take care of the interest of the region which they will present him with. Are they genuinely expecting Jonathan to correct the injuries they inflicted on the North or are they using such expression as subterfuge to make us believe that they have the North at heart? When in the communiqué they said they support free and fair elections, we are bound to ask when did any of them ever in his life practiced free and fair elections? Did not they rig in the NPN? Did not they abandon June 12 and followed Abacha? Did not they rig in 2003 and 2007? Only a fool would believe a person that has been rigging for fifty years but who suddenly claims to be a prophet of free and fair election.
Secondly, I see a lot of danger in their argument, for Jonathan, for the North and for the so-called zoning formula. They have created a room for further confusion in future in order to return and use the North again as a bargaining chip with the President in 2015. By hinging their support to Jonathan on the argument of “joint ticket” with late Yar’adua instead of issuing a totally new one to the incumbent, they created a room for the argument to be revisited at the expiration of the eight years of Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket, i.e. in 2015. The President will then need to come back and beg them for another term. Then we will be taken again through another circle of arguments and summits on zoning, allowing charlatans to raise emotions of religion and sectionalism again. The Yar’adua/Goodluck ticket is a northern ticket, they said. When it expires in 2015, are we expecting a bonafide southern ticket? Why did they find it difficult to declare the demise of zoning, once and for all, by accepting Baba Lar’s argument that it was only a temporary measure which does not suit Nigeria today and forever? Incidentally, they are free to do so because no other party is supporting zoning. I hope the PDP will be bold enough to scrap zoning in their NEC meeting this week such that the matter dies, once and for all, though not without some implications for the future of politics in the country.
Thirdly, the methods of Jonathan in gaining the ticket leaves a lot to be desired and I hope they are only short-term. The manner in which he sacked the PDP chairman portrayed him as bereft of any superior talent than Obasanjo. Power is the end. The type of people he recruited as foot soldiers in his ticket campaign suggests that he can hardly lead the reform needed by both his party and country. This inevitably leads to the fourth fear: that he may not be committed to free and fair elections, after all.
Going by the above, which people and methods would Jonathan employ to garner his winning votes in 2011? We all know that it takes more than Jega’s INEC to achieve that. In fact, most of the work remains with the President who must contain the military, the police, and security agents who in the past have been at the forefront of election malpractices. He must convince the 27 PDP governors to respect the votes of citizens bearing in mind that none of them was voted before freely and fairly. He must subdue his party to give up rigging, its greatest strength and largest constituency. He must abandon people like Obasanjo who tells him that nobody can conduct a free and fair election. Finally, in case the elections are rigged on his behalf, he must allow the judiciary a free hand to decide on his fate and that of his PDP governors. I am beginning to feel that this is a tall ambition. Jega cannot do this on his behalf. I have raised this doubt in a previous article when I said that the chances of free and fair election are bright only if Jonathan himself is not running.
In conclusion we will advise the President to urgently review his methods if he wants to live above the level of mediocrity of many past Nigerian leaders. It is difficult in politics, admittedly, but not impossible. But merit always comes with sacrifice. He can still reach out to credible people – even within his PDP – in all parts of the country, run an open campaign and genuinely win if he is able to achieve the confidence of the majority. His present approach and companionship, however, compel us to start entertaining the fear that under him business will remain as usual. We have so advised his immediate two predecessors. None of them listened. Would he make a difference? Only time can tell.


19 July 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Discourse 299 Between Agriculture and Oil

Discourse 299
By Dr. Aliyu Tilde

Between Agriculture and Oil

Recently, the Minister of Petroleum announced that the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) is resuming oil exploration in the northern part of the country. The oil presently mined comes from fields in the South-south zone that borders the Atlantic Ocean with increasing exploitation of offshore wells. This is not the first time an attempt is made to explore oil in the North. All the recent explorations have been in the Northeast with the last one stopped abruptly in 1999 by the Obasanjo administration after only three trial wells were drilled.
The reasons behind the apathy of exploring oil in the North are clear. With several wells discovered and huge reserves remaining by the ocean side at comparatively shallow depth, investors are naturally reluctant to venture into prospective reserves that are over 1000 kilometers away from the sea and at levels more than twice the ones they are already drilling in the Delta region. Added to this problem is the suspicion in some quarters that empowering the North with oil in addition to its population will have serious implications for the country’s balance of power. The northern part has largely been criticized as parasitic on the south despite its decisive contribution to the food security of the country. Oil accounts for over 90% of the revenue of the federal government and all States and local governments in the country, except Lagos State.
No doubt, people from the northern part of the country would be glad to see oil discovered in the region as manifested by the way they welcome the announcement. They have been agitating in the Senate for resumption of exploration activities since they were stopped over a decade ago. In their minds, they envisage an end to the poverty that has ravaged the region and made it impossible to catch up with the southern part of the country. There will be a boost in economic activities and infrastructure. And so on. Oil, in short is a welcome guest here.
The two areas suspected by geologists to be harbouring hydrocarbons in commercial quantities are those situated in the Chad formation and Benue Trough, all falling largely within the Northeastern zone. In 2003, the then Senator representing Bauchi South sponsored the publication of a study titled Oil Exploration in Northern Nigeria: Problems and Prospects. The book, among many things, clearly showed the lack of commitment of oil companies to exploration activities in the North. Over sixty wells were drilled in the Delta region before commercial quantities of oil were discovered. Comparatively, only three were drilled in the Benue Trough. In addition, studies have shown that due to the nature of the rocks, hydrocarbons in commercial quantities could be found only at depth of 6,000 meters in both Chad and Benue formations. Previous explorations did not go beyond 3,000 meters. Finally, the 2D seismic equipment used was archaic, instead of the 3D and 4D surveys that are presently employed. To be fair to the reluctant oil companies, these limitations were deliberately ingrained in their terms of contracts by NNPC. These inadequacies, in the view of many analysts, form an insufficient ground to reach the conclusion that there are no hydrocarbons in commercial quantities in the Chad and Benue formations.
So without doing away with the deliberate inadequacies of small sampling size, insufficient depth of the trial wells and employment of archaic exploration equipment, the renewed effort of the NNPC is likely to return the same “no oil” verdict as did previous explorations. How the NNPC would, especially in its present comatose state, avoid that conclusion is difficult to figure out. That will be sad news for the hopefuls here. But for me, it is a verdict that I will be very glad to receive, though not without strong reasons.
First, I believe the country is better of with a diversified economy. Instead of exploring oil fields in the North, it should let the region remain a food basket and a green source of livelihood and income. Successive federal and state governments have been paying only lip service to agriculture. They count the potentials of the sector but discourage its production. Beyond the supply of fertilizer which is the main concern of the governments, which itself is inadequate but maintained for its lucrative returns into pockets of officials, governments should have vigorously ventured into solving the various constraints that impede the growth of agriculture as a veritable revenue earner in the country. However, agriculture has been on auto-control for many decades now.
Beside the advantage of diversification, I am afraid that the revenue accruing from additional oil production as a result of the discovery of new reserves in the North may not compensate for the losses that comes with it. Agriculture has for decades remained the greatest contributor to our GDP, at 40% average. But agriculture and oil are hardly coexistent especially in the way they compete with each other for land and labour. This will have serious implications on the economy of the region. It is worthwhile to consider the land dimension of their relationship.
Oil activities in the Northeast will certainly mean appropriation of arable land currently used in agriculture. Our experience in the Niger Delta has shown that oil contaminates land extensively. In the case of the Northeast, such pollution will not be limited to the oil fields but would also extend to all rivers and wetlands into which the spillage would flow. Within 50 years of oil production in the region, fields in the Chad Basin as well as the upper and lower Benue River Basins will all be spoilt with oil. The oil fields of Alkaleri alone, for example, will have the capacity of contaminating Rivers Gongola and Benue and their wetlands. If any one doubts my assertion, he should visit the Niger Delta and see the extent of ecological devastation there. That damage happened in spite of environmental impact assessments and agreements on best environmental practices by oil companies. It is also happening in spite of the Petroleum Act and the Department of Petroleum Resources. Government is not interested in enforcing laws in this country. British Petroleum is there busy settling claims of fishermen rendered redundant by the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I do not know of any fisherman in the Niger Delta who is compensated, even once, for similar acts of negligence by oil companies in the region. Let us be honest. There is no amount of assurance that will convince me that the same insensitive officials and corrupt multinationals would apply best practices in the North.
So the relationship between agriculture and oil production is mutually exclusive, at least here in Nigeria. And contrary to popular belief, oil production carries the risk of making Nigerians in this part of the country poorer beyond their current 70% average. That is because oil proceed will not be accessed directly by the ordinary citizens. It belongs to government and its officials who will not hesitate to squander it the way they have been doing to our earnings since the 1970s. Very little, if any, trickles down to the common man. That is why its contribution to our GDP, “the total income of everyone in the economy”, is far lesser than that of agriculture. In the end, the common man who is 70% hungry, will further be deprived by allocating his agricultural field to an oil company and spoiling his wetland with oil and nothing is given to him in return. I cannot see how he can get richer through such a deal. In the end, government officials in the region will be richer and more will accrue to the federation account for sharing, but less will reach the farmer and his household. And where over 80% of households are farmers, one can only imagine the crisis that will ensue in all the eight states from Borno to Benue.
Agriculture, on the other hand, has a lot of potentials for making both the country and the common man smile, especially now that new markets have opened in Asia and South America. That is why our agricultural exports are fast increasing yearly. Focusing on these, instead of oil, means conserving our environment, more income to the common man, and more employment opportunities at the grassroots level. To sustain the growth in agricultural export, government only needs to harness access to these markets through various measures. The farmers will naturally produce more with every increase in demand. Their earnings will increase dramatically and it would not take time before they bid farewell to poverty, unlike the case of oil that will only make them increasingly dependent on the crumbs that the elite would leave behind. The same elite has sustained the poverty of farmers when he banned imports in order to keep food prices low. In essence, the Nigerian farmer is forced to subsidize life for the rich. Yet, the elite is ready to allocate choice agricultural lands to foreign farmers, guarantee their production and allow them to export it, freely!
My conclusion, therefore, is that the country will be better of by investing in agriculture rather than oil in the North. Unfortunately, this is not a decision for the common man to take. That is the domain of the elite who has never shown any remorse for the hardship he could inflict on the citizens of this country.
I wish the NNPC would this time and always return the ‘no oil’ verdict. That will certainly mean a better future for this country and its citizens. The parasite that feeds its host would better be left alone.


14 July 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Discourse 298 Jonathan and the Northwest

Discourse 298

By Dr. Aliyu Tilde

Jonathan and the Northwest

I concluded The Days of Jonathan by giving the new Nigerian President a choice between continuing beyond 2011 and handing over to a newly elected President by that date. If he favours the former, he should “persuade his party to accord him the ticket and win his tenure through free and fair elections.” If he chooses the latter, however, he should “smake his days colourful by painting them with the colours of selflessness, equity and justice.” I can now say conclusively that though my preference went for the latter, Jonathan has chosen the former. There are strong indications that he wants to contest the election in 2011 and he is likely to announce this after finishing consultations.

It is clear from the above that even in those days I was not bogged down by the a priori moral precept of the PDP zoning formula. In fact, since 2002 I have argued against rotational presidency because it limits to only 16.7% the chances of Nigeria getting the best President. It is also undemocratic and puts the stamp of permanence to the divisions we inherited from colonial times when we should be doing everything to get rid of them. It is not surprising therefore that only the PDP has adopted that formula. More importantly, even for the PDP that adopted it, it has proved impracticable within just ten years.

What is interesting in the impracticability of that PDP zoning formula is how it has put the best two bedfellows in Nigerian political history at loggerheads. The wrestling is essentially now between the South-south from where Jonathan hails on the one hand and the Northwest that has monopolized power in the North, on the other. Since independence, the Northwest has always used the South-south to leap itself to power and the South-south has remained its surest partner. Now with Jonathan in power, the South-south is asking for a return gesture in that partnership of half a century.

To me this is the core of the matter, but the Jonathan camp itself is making a blunder in the manner it is going about its persuasion. I thought Clarke, the most senior South-south elder in the Jonathan advocacy, would take a flight to Minna, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Sokoto to win for his son a support that would reciprocate the role his zone has played during its long history of political partnership with the Northwest. Attempting to appeal to what the papers call “northern minorities” first is likely to lead the two best friends to washing their dirty linens in public. That is the Jonathan side.

However, I expect that even without his request, the Northwest will be generous enough to support him. In fact, this is something long overdue as it was the right thing to do in 1999. The Northwest should have picked a southern candidate from the South-south. Instead, they went for Obasanjo, from the Southwest, who finally proved to be a nemesis for those who shoved him to power. Supporting Jonathan now would really give the Northwest a record of accommodation and sacrifice in political partnership. The South-south and other zones would then see reason in aligning with it in future because it pays. However, if it insists in clinching the PDP ticket, then it has committed a blunder for the second time – in 1999 and 2011 – by elevating its interest above that of their partnership. After all, what would single tenure of four years tenure (2011 – 2015) provide for the Northwest that nine previous tenures which spanned for over three decades did not provide it with? In fact, power has only helped to corrupt the Northwest more than it did to the other parts of the country. Because of this, the region today has the lowest human development indices and poverty is most pervasive there. So acceding power to Goodluck would be good riddance for the ordinary Northwesterner.

I believe it is not too late for both sides to discover a common ground. Jonathan must abandon the present mathematical approach to the situation. Let him take the moral argument to the Northwest and win their support. The Northwest must not hesitate, on the other hand, to lend him and his zone their support. It has the moral obligation to do so. We, the other Nigerians, are onlookers waiting for the election day.

As a footnote, I must explain to my readers why I singled out the Northwest instead of using the North as Nigerians are used to and as I have used severally in the past. This is largely based on the statistical analysis of power in this country. I have realized, as I once hinted in this column, that when speaking in terms of power, the Northwest has failed to share it with other parts of the North. All the nine political leaders we had from the North who ruled Nigeria, except for Balewa who sat in for Sardauna in Lagos, were from areas that fell either in the former Northwestern State or the present Northwestern zone. The count: Sardauna (Sokoto), Gowon (Kaduna), Murtala (Kano), Shagari (Sokoto), Buhari (Katsina), Babangida (Niger), Abacha (Kano), Abdulsalami (Niger) and Yar’adua (Katsina). It is also not surprising that all the contenders of Jonathan in the PDP so far are from that area. And I would not like to believe that there are equally competent people from other parts of the North.

The statistics are so overwhelmingly lopsided that people from Northeast or the Middle Belt no longer have an appetite for a common “North” nomenclature. That is why the comment of a Fulani VOA Hausa Service listener from Taraba did not come as a surprise when asked whether Jonathan should be given or denied the PDP ticket. He said, “I do not mind if Jonathan is given the ticket because in the North, you are not considered a Northerner unless you come from the Northwest. For us who are in Taraba, some people even consider us as aliens.” He spoke the truth I think, though we must be careful not to generalize here. The Northwest we are referring to is not that of its entire citizens, but that of its political elite who have consistently put themselves first before others, who have not realized that the world is fast changing.

I am opening this wound deliberately because it is beginning to spread at an alarming rate. We earlier dismissed it as an Atiku affair but it has gained ground to the extent that it needs to be addressed as evidenced from the above quoted VOA comment. For those in the Northwest who want a united North – or better still, a united Nigeria – it is a challenge that they must stand up to.

Secondly, all the discussion about zoning is relevant only in the context of rigged elections. Despite the pledge of Jonathan and the capacity of Jega, people are still waiting to see before they believe that their votes would count. In an atmosphere of free and fair election and multiparty democracy zoning will matter least because with time the PDP will lose its predominance unless it performs in office creditably. Elections will increasingly be determined by merit to the extent that the ethnic, religious and regional attributes of a candidate would not matter. Right now, its incumbency plus rigging give it the weight to be considered as the next tenant of the Presidential Villa. That is why Nigerians are concerned about what happens in the party.

As at now, Jonathan and the Northwest should go to their common bed quietly. We are watching them.


8 July 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Discourse 297 Losing Afghanistan (BBT10 - 1)

Discourse 297 BBT10 (1)



Aliyu U. Tilde, Nigeria

The United States can claim anything but victory in Afghanistan. Last week, the war claimed the career of one of its most distinguished soldiers, General Stanley McChrystal. Underneath the excuse of “lapse in judgement” that was generally given to cover the insubordination that led to his sack and subsequent resignation from service lies the undeniable fatigue which the General and his troops were subjected to by the war, a fatigue characterised by the inability to subdue a resurgent enemy who, though small, appear increasingly resilient and progressively emboldened by the failure of a superpower that cannot even put its house in order.

The Americans are losing the war on all fronts. The fatigue of the commanders has infected the minds and pockets of its citizens at home. Recent polls show that the majority who do not support the war is increasing by the day. A poll conducted in early June by ABC News and Washington Post show that 53% of Americans believe that the war is not worth fighting for. In addition, 58% want their troops back, starting July 2011, as shown by the latest USA Today/Gallup poll on the war. Both Obama and David Patraeus have expressed the optimism in their recent statements early that the date is realistic.

The allies are more worn out with the war. America tried only with little success to convince some of them to send additional troops last year. The support for the war among their citizens is far lower than what it is among Americans. Among Germans and French, for example, 80% did not support the surge, seeing the war not as their problem and a waste of resources, according to a leaked and widely quoted CIA/INR document. The Europeans are in greater haste to withdraw. They will not wait for the Americans to show them the way. The Dutch would lead them, starting next December, by withdrawing their 3,000 troops. The Americans would definitely need some tricks to sustain the support of their NATO allies. The absence of Bush and Blair, the chief ideologues of the war against terror, will be felt, though their advice will not be farfetched.

Exit strategy is the oft-repeated word in Washington on the Afghan war since the demise of the Bush Administration. Part of that strategy now is speaking to the Taliban. However, the resurgents are not in the mood of speech, but that of victory: "We are certain that we are winning. Why should we talk if we have the upper hand, and the foreign troops are considering withdrawal, and there are differences in the ranks of our enemies?” they told the BBC yesterday.

I wonder why John Simpson, the World Affairs Editor of the BBC through whom the Taliban message was sent yesterday, had difficulties recognizing the logic of the insurgents. Here is a war whose commanders are frustrated, its citizens tired, its allies half-heated, and its Commander-in-Chief is withdrawing. Defeat is the only word that is not heard of yet, but it could be discerned from every sentence in its discourse. From this point one can easily see the “upper hand” which the Taliban is claiming in this “war of necessity”, as Obama would call it.

Last week, Obama told both Americans and “our enemies” that the substitution of McChrystal with Patraeus is a “change in personnel, not a change in strategy.” However, the new commandant has repeatedly assured parents and the troops that he will not favour military operations that endanger the lives of their soldiers in attempting to protect the civilian casualties. He has also hinted that he will be more aggressive to the Taliban than his predecessor. From this we can predict more civilian casualties, something that would definitely extinguish further the little support for the war that remains among the Allies who will then see more pictures of women and children killed by their troops. Thence, the call for troops withdrawal would resurge with a greater vigour.

The Taliban, on their part, are not scared. They carried out an audacious attack two days ago on a major NATO base in Jalabad. Though it was a suicide bombing that was hardly intended to engage the Allies, it was nevertheless their choice of telling Gen Patraeus, “You are welcome.” With this determination, an exit strategy more dignifying to the US and its allies than an unconditional withdrawal as the Taliban are demanding can hardly be envisaged.

The US and its allies are stuck in Afghanistan, as did the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s and the British before them in the 19th Century. However, while war could on both occasions be prosecuted with unrestrained brutality, the Geneva Convention and the open access to information put the US and its allies in more precarious situations than the Mongols, the British or the Soviets. It is only a matter of time that the world would witness the withdrawal of yet another superpower from a land that is not its, leaving Afghans to determine their future as do citizens of other nations. That is the only road to peace; the only exit followed by other Empires that invaded that stubborn land before and the only one open to the US and its allies today. We hope they will have the wisdom to follow it. War is not necessary; peace is.


2 July 2010

The BBT10 series are monthly articles specifically written for publication in the Berlin Blogger Tour 2010 Group site. They are published on this site a week after submission.