Return of the Taliban’s cheerleader

The Obama administration is demonstrating poor judgement in appointing Robin Raphel to a sensitive position

“Despite nearly universal misgivings about the Taliban movement,” said the senior US state department official, “it must be acknowledged as a significant factor in the Afghan equation and one that will not simply disappear anytime soon.

The Taliban control more than two-thirds of the country; they are Afghan, they are indigenous and, they have demonstrated staying power. The reasons they have succeeded so far have little to do with military prowess or outside military assistance. Indeed, when they have engaged in truly serious fighting, the Taliban have not fared so well.

The real source of their success has been the willingness of many Afghans, particularly Pashtuns, to tacitly trade the unending fighting and chaos for a measure of peace and security, even with severe social restrictions.” [US Embassy in Israel]

And towards the end of her speech, came the memorable line: “If we wish them to moderate their policies, we should engage with them.”

That was Robin Raphel speaking at the United Nations in November 1996. In a chapter in Fundamentalism Reborn, journalist Richard MacKenzie writes:

In a recent Newsweek report, Steve LeVine writes that until Kabul fell, the US administration seemed ‘unconcerned about the Taliban’s growth’. He added, ‘Some midlevel State Department officials applauded the movement’s campaign for law and order, despite the mullahs’ knuckle-dragging views on women’s rights’. Certainly what one staunch critic (in an interview with the author) called a ‘cabal’ at the State Department was not as enlightened as their brothers and sisters at the CIA. Assistant Secretary Robin Raphel and two of her staff gave good impressions of being at least occasional cheer leaders for the Taliban.”

Mr MacKenzie concludes that paragraph on Ms Raphel’s department with this: “In one encounter a few months before the Taliban entered Kabul, a mid-level bureaucrat at the State Department claimed to this writer that ‘You get to know them and you find they really have a great sense of humour’, apparently believing the words he was uttering.” [Fundamentalism Reborn]

“The entire chain of command in Afghanistan”, from Ms Raphel down to the Afghan desk officer, “all retired or were reassigned in the summer of 1997” after Madeleine Albright replaced Warren Christopher as Secretary of State in the second Clinton administration. By 1999, the US acknowledged that the “Taliban are the wrong horse to ride for bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

You would have thought that the United States would have learnt its lessons—not least after the Taliban’s guests conducted some unannounced modifications to the urban landscape in Manhattan and Washington, DC in the autumn of 2001. Almost eight years after 9/11, it turns out that the Obama administration intends to ride the wrong horse again. The idea of engaging with the ‘moderate Taliban’ is back in vogue again.

The potential appointment of Ms Raphel as the special envoy’s special envoy to Af-Pak is ostensibly to monitor US financial assistance to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar plan. While it is sensible to assign the job to a Pakistanphile, the prudence of appointing a former lobbyist on Islamabad’s payroll, with a dubious attitude towards the Taliban, to a position that involves fiduciary responsibilities is, to put it mildly, questionable. American taxpayers and their elected representatives in the Senate must scrutinise this appointment. More so because her unstated portfolio might well be to, yet again, engage with the ‘moderate’ Taliban.

Ms Raphel’s anti-India positions (via Raman’s Strategic Analysis)on Jammu & Kashmir in the early 1990s has not endeared her to India. As long as Richard Holbrooke keeps her as far away from India as possible, her appointment need not directly concern New Delhi. If, on the other hand, the Obama administration decides to place her in any role involving relations with India, then it must be treated as an unfriendly move.

66 thoughts on “Return of the Taliban’s cheerleader”

  1. The American strategy under Obama seems to have changed to one of denying the use of Afghanisthan to any of the other regional players. This could explain their newfound appreciation of the Taliban like in the 80s.

  2. Nitin, if she’s part of Holbrooke entourage, she doesn’t need confirmation by US representatives. She can do as much mischief as possible as long as Holbrooke is okay with it.

    But the appointment shows who is actually running Holbrooke’s show in Af-Pak!

  3. So when is the US gonna talk with the “good Taliban” and later scoot from Afg? After elections? GOOD RIDDANCE I SAY. Will lessen US control over Pak and hasten its collapse.

    GWB was the best Prez for India and looks like WILL BE for quite some time. Where are the neocons these days? I may not agree with them always but atleast u knew what their positions were and they were more or less India friendly. The guys in the current admin like Robin Raphael are SLIMY SLEAZEBALLS who keep playing SMOKE AND MIRRORS.

  4. change we can believe in!
    the dems are back to their old mischief:

    pakis good
    india/hindus bad

  5. “Good Taliban”?


    Wonder what the world would have thought had the Allied Powers tried to engage the Good Nazis to mend their ways.

    Obama just doesn’t get it, does he? There is no good Taliban. An oxymoron if their ever was one.

    Only reason why she could have been appointed is that she has a strong background in economics and considering the accounting fudging done by Pakistan her role might be constructive. But that being said, was she the only expert available to audit the sincerity of Pakistan’s efforts? I doubt it.

    But the Obama administration is innocent as far the mere appointment goes. As Nitin said, it is when she’s permitted to have an influence on India-US relations that India should hold Obama guilty. But we’re watching.

  6. As long as Richard Holbrooke keeps her as far away from India as possible, her appointment need not directly concern New Delhi.

    So you’re saying situation in Af-Pak region is not our concern, even if indirect?

  7. Robin Raphael spells headache for India. Obama, I suspect has a very poor understanding of world politics, particularly the volatile Asian region. His statements both on economic and foreign policy issues have become a source of great concern for India and other democracies. India needs to formulate suitable responses in advance to counter the consequences of his ill-advised steps in the neighbourhood.

  8. One of Obama’s advisors, Zbigniew Brzyznski, was also the advisor to the US president Jimmy Carter when Afghanisthan became a central battle ground in the cold war, and his strategy back then was to arm and fund the “good taliban”. The Taliban jirga even paid a visit to the white house and had a photo op with Jimmy Carter and were praised as “the equivalent of the founding fathers of the USA”. The USA may be retrying the same tactic of allowing the Taliban control of Afghanisthan as they did last time…it is a quick and easy way to declare victory and leave. Allowing Afghanisthan to be in peace but not in control of USA/NATO is not acceptable to the USA, which is very clear. (If that was not the case, they would have pushed for a role for India in reconstruction without really caring about “pakistani sensitivities”, since the Pakistanis are openly playing the USA for fools).

  9. @ Daveyboy

    “Wonder what the world would have thought had the Allied Powers tried to engage the Good Nazis to mend their ways. ”

    Actually they tried to. Both USSR and UK. It was only when the overly ambitious and stupid Hitler hit Britain in 1940 (Battle of Britain) and more importantly USSR in 1942 (Battle of Stalingrad) that his fate was sealed. I’d say USSR was as responsible for Hiltler’s defeat as was UK and US. But people unofrtunately don’t give it the credit it deserves. Even the Roman Catholic Church was a supporter of Hitler till 41 or 42 when it found that most of what Hitler said was actually more “pagan”. This notion that war was fought against the persecution of Jews is complete hogwash. You have to understand the anti-Semitism prevalent throughout Europe at that time to call out this BS.

  10. UK PM Chamberlain during WWII times is infamous for trying to smoke a peace pipe with the Nazis, only to find them invading Britain a few years down the line. Similar to what the fools in charge of India are doing. Hey, we are going to have 10% growth rate every year, no? So India will be strong and fearsome at some point in the future, no need to worry about terrorist countries continually arming against India weapon for weapon, ably aided by India’s adversaries like China and USA….right? That is the standard line being trotted out by this Prime Minister and his genius advisors nowadays, it looks llike.

  11. This current Pope recently forgave various Nazi-sympathetic people in their cloister, strangely this did not seem to cause a furore among catholics worldwide. Why would that be if the Pope and his followers were sympathetic to the Jewish peoples today? (Hitler was a follower of Pauline Christianity for those who want to dig more.) So you have to wonder how he got caught up in the whole “Aryan” theme with an inverted Swastika, the latter concept (inverted/mirror image) attributed to India even today, and the former borrowed from description of that kind of people in the Indian vedas, though the Aryan Invasion/Migration/Tourism Theories have all been found to be bogus.

    The Real (TM) Swastika from millenia ago is still a holy symbol for practising Hindus — the Nazis did a mirror image of the Indian version of the swastika for some reason. Must be a german thing. There is every chance that the Max Mueller (who we morons in India still worship and have monuments named after in Mumbai) and his ideas fed the Nazi hysteria. It is a strange world indeed.

  12. Hi,

    As readers of my blog post cited in the text know, I’m not a big fan of Robin’s appointment.

    That said, who is serving in what capacity on Holbrooke’s staff is not a big enough issue to justify invocation of the Nazis. For that matter, no one has even offered any evidence that appointing someone who is known to be strongly pro-Pakistan in the job they are putting her in is not a good move for the US. It’s possible that a known enemy of India will have a better chance of getting Pakistanis to cooperate than a neutral figure. Of course she might also help them cover up things, we’ll have to see.

    I also think Indians may be placing too much importance on her. To be blunt, it’s not surprising that a US diplomat would think that India buying off Pakistan with concessions on Kashmir would be a good thing for the US. It probably would be good for the US. Of course, since Indians have a perfectly good response when they say that buying off Pakistan is not in itself good for India, this doesn’t mean it should happen. But it does mean that Indians should get used to the idea that US State Department people will push for Indian concessions on Kashmir.


  13. The US is building a MASSIVE embassy at a cost of about 750, 000, 000 US dollars. HOLY COW. Man looks like Pak is gonna be the next BATTLEFIELD somewhat similar to Afg in 80s. Good. Looks like Pak will soon be Somalia if it is not yet one. Word on the street is IT WILL BE GUARDED BY 1000 MARINES!! Wow, IS IT AN EMBASSY or A FORTRESS? I think only US protectorates Japan and South Korea have more marines (not even sure about Germany). The way things are going US is doing everything it can to make itself reviled in the “Paki street” LOL. Good as long as it reduces even slightly Pak’s hatred for India. A personal thank you on my behalf for folks at Foggy Bottom who never cease to amaze me with their stupidity.

  14. @ Arvind


    @ Nitin

    So you too think that there is a good taliban out there? Pffffffft.

  15. P.S.

    @ Raymond

    Not surprising to see where you were going with your comments. You actually thought there is good reason in Manmohan Singh agreeing to insert the Balochistan reference in the joint statement as Pakistan is being honest. Your comments and blog posts are often America-centric. In case you didn’t read the URL, this is the INDIAN national interest. Not the American one. You have landed at the wrong place mate. Move on.

    “Indians should get used to…”



    Getting used to?


    How about you have to get used to the reality that is the post 9/11 world? In case you didn’t notice, ‘getting used to’ American policies is exactly what the world has been doing for decades now.

    That’s why there was this event called the 9/11. You might’ve heard of it.

    Any more getting used to your advice and you’ll face another one.

    You ok with that? Or are you just delirious. For your sake I hope it is the latter.

  16. Nice to see that US state dept. draw a bullseye on US interests in Pakistan, so that Pakistanis have nothing outside of Pakistan for the terrorists in Pakistan to focus on. Now, I hope their embassy and setup is huge, massive and strikes shakinaw among the Pakistani locals. The only resolution of this mental image being under the boot of “the US infidels” for the Pakistanis will be “jihad”. Pakistan and US will have much fun together in various positions.

  17. @Nitin

    “Never in the history of this blog has Godwin’s Law turned positive so early.”

    I actually have observed a variant of this law myself. I feel that the rationality in any debate on the Indian Cyberspace goes for a toss when it becomes a Hindu-Muslim slugfest. If you doubt me, just take a look at Rediff forums…


  18. Hi Daveyboy,

    Yes, since I’m an American it is not particularly surprising that my blog often reveals an American point of view.

    While I read INI fairly often, I usually don’t comment here, because as you point out, the subtitle of the Acorn is “The Indian National Interest”.

    That said, posters are busy comparing the US to Nazi Germany because the US has appointed a pro-Pakistan diplomat to deal with the Pakistanis. Huh? The claim that the US significantly resembles Nazi Germany because it has appointed a diplomat who has ticked off India to a post in Pakistan is a claim about the US {and Nazi Germany}, not India. As an American, I can certainly speak to this. It’s hogwash.

    The point of my remarks about Kashmir was not to claim that the US is right in its assessment of Kashmir, just to say that Robin’s viewpoint is probably not particularly unusual among US diplomats. It is as if you said to me that I shouldn’t be particularly irritated at one manager suggesting that software development be moved to India, because outsourcing to India is a common idea in the corporate world.

    I’m not saying that Indians should be glad that American diplomats think this way, or that Indians should actually make concessions on Kashmir. I’m just saying Indians probably shouldn’t focus on Robin as if she were the only US diplomat to think that the US would be better off if India made concessions to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

    As to the likelihood of another 9/11, maybe there will be one and maybe there won’t. But it looks pretty unlikely to me that the probability of another 9/11 is significantly affected by whether or not Robin joins Holbrooke’s staff, which is what we’re discussing here.

    By the way, DaveyBoy, your comment about me was pretty good. In the immortal words of Senator Kennedy, it was a low blow but a good shot.


  19. Ray

    Yo do seem to protest too much.

    Either that or you missed the discussion completely.

    The invocation of the Nazis was regarding the Taliban. “Good Nazis”==”Good Taliban”. Kindly re-read the discussion preceding before jumping the gun. Sheesh.

    Meanwhile, we have Sri Stephen Cohen, lecturing India at Brookings. More pious bilge on What ‘should’ be doing to realize its economic and other potential…(Hint: Give more concessions to Pakistan).

    Its time the yanks talking down to Indians get asked, brusquely, why exactly is it in India’s interest to take their advice. Why does India give them the time of the day?

  20. Nazis supported a fascist ideology to spread all over using their financial and political and techonological clout. Americans have been funding billions of dollars to keep Islamofascism strong in India’s neighbourhood by aiding and assisting the Pakistan jihad factory to keep churning out islamofascists who like to blow things up in India. If support to fascist ideas makes one a Nazi, by that definition the USA is most definitely a Nazi state supporting and aiding and abetting islamofascist movements in Pakistan and Afghanisthan for many decades. All the US needs is some flimsy excuse (anyone recall Uranium cake stories by Colin Powell in Iraq as justification for the war?) to go bomb some part of the world…except unlike the Nazis, they are clever enough to air propaganda on “24-hour news channels” like CNN to pretend that their fascist behaviour is all about freedom and democracy.

    If the walk and talk of the US is about strengthening islamo-fascist movements that hurt US’s competitors and adversaries, a.k.a. the “good” taliban, are armed and funded to the tune of a billion dollars a year. These billions of $s given to terrorists in Pakistan are under the pretense of taking out the “bad” taliban, i.e., the terrorist groups that have lost focus from India and want to take on western targets.

    Can the US be legitimately termed a Nazi state for supporting fascist movements elsewhere? Most certainly.

  21. Hi,

    Excuse me, but the Taliban have even less in common with the Nazis than the US does. Which is not to say they’re not worth fighting, but their ideology is based on the Koran, Pakistan is not as strong as Nazi Germany, etc.

    If you ask me why you should pay attention to the Yanks, it is because it is possible that the US will offer bribes as well as threats. If the bribe is big enough, maybe it would be to India’s advantage to take it.

    Also, how do I put this, Nitin wrote a piece saying that a particular US retired State Department official is obnoxious to India, and that therefore the US shouldn’t let her affect policy regarding India. As it happens I agree with him, but this is really a US issue, not an Indian one. Indians have no more right to object to the assignment of a US diplomat to Pakistan than I have to object to India’s diplomatic assignments to their embassy in China.

    As for whether or not there are “Good Taliban”, I have a suspicion that you’re right and there aren’t any. That said, the US is actually in a pretty desperate position in Afghanistan. It is impossible to resupply Afghanistan by sea, so this leaves us with resupply options like Pakistan, Russia and Iran. There doesn’t seem to be any clear end to the situation in Afghanistan in less than a generation. The number and capability of our enemies seems to increase each year. So I can see why the Obama administration might want to look for mid level Taliban willing to split off from the senior leadership if the offer is good. After all, if there are any “Good Taliban” it’s probably cheaper to buy them off than it is to fight them. If it turns out that there aren’t any “Good Taliban”, how much worse off will the US be than it is now?

    Please note that I am NOT saying that Indians should believe in “Good Taliban”. I’m saying that it makes sense for the US to look for them, since reality is unknown and the US position is actually pretty bad.

    That said, yes I’m a little sensitive on the comparison of the US to Nazi Germany. I was an anti Vietnam War guy in the late 1960’s amd early 1970’s and heard a lot of unwise comparisons of the US to Nazi Germany. I even made a few. So I’m sorry I flew off the handle.


  22. Let us not forget that the US also aided and abetted the Islamofascist movements in Chechnya and Kosovo (the KLA and Checnya liberation army) was an army of drug dealers and terrorists, just like the fascist Pakistani Army that the US has been funding and continues to fund to this day.

  23. The number and capability of the enemy may be increasing because the USA is arming and funding the enemy that it claims to be fighting. If we assume that the US state dept does not consist of stupid people, then the entire claim of fighting “the enemy” is a bogus claim made by the US State Department since the enemy is being funded nicely by the US government. So the war is being fought in Afghanisthan for reasons that has nothing to do with fighting terrorism in Afghanisthan or anywhere else.

    The real aim for staying in Afghanisthan is to project power to central Asia in the long run, and have the capability to create a nuisance for all the regional powers. This would satisfy the US interest of ensuring that the region in India’s neighbourhood collapses in terrorist chaos if the US is not able to wield control of the region by proxy. Another obvious reason is to make sure Rentboy Pakistan continues to be pliable as a cat’s paw to create chaos and terror in India and its neighbourhood if necessary down the line.

    It is becoming clear that it is not just Pakistan that uses terrorism as a state policy — the US does that too but is clever enough to do it by proxy. The US govt. pays the Pakistani army, which then pays all the terrorists in USA and Pakistan’s payroll. These terrorists in Pakistan that are controlled by the Pakistani Army can be happy that they will get 1.5 Billion $s for the next 5 years. US cannot expect any love from Pakistan for all the generosity though, in fact the opposite will happen.

  24. Yeah I’d agree with Ray that a comparison between Taleban and Nazis is preposterous. That said, I don’t think India or Indians “making noises” about Ms. Raphael is a bad thing or is unwarranted. There are 2 reasons for this:

    1. Given past history, people like Ms. Raphael tend to interfere unnecessarily in Indian affairs. THAT AFFECTS INDIAN NATIONAL INTEREST. By exposing her past activities Indians can be forewarned and that might (just might) CURB…ENTHUSIASM and ACTIVISM.

    2. Secondly and probably more importantly Af-Pak is in the AMBIT of India’s neighborhood. So what happens there also indirectly affects India. US being the PRIME MOVER in this region, it is highly important for India to know and assess what the motives of its special representatives to this region are. These “special envoys” basically give the executive branch veto power over Congress and are avenues for UNNECESSARY ACTIVISM (like Reagan’s Iran Contra and sponsorship of jehad in Afg) which can lead to disastrous consequences for the region.

  25. If the question is of ideology, the Taliban follow a fascist ideology that wants to use extreme violence on people not worth considering as humans — the Germans had that view about Jews and non-whites. The taliban has that view towards non-muslims, and even muslims like Ahmaddiyas and Sufuis. All the ill-informed cretins pretending Taliban is not a fascist movement need to look up the dictionary as to what constituted Fascism. (Nazis are termed fascists for a reason).

  26. Hi,

    I don’t disagree with Arvind’s views on the issue of whether or not it is reasonable for India to object to Ms. Rafel. After all, I wrote a blog post that said the Indians probably would object and the US ought to think about that. On the other hand, if people are going to object to my commenting by pointing out that this is an Indian blog, it seemed reasonable of me to point out that it is an American issue, and I am an American.

    As to the issue of who’s fascist, I’m pretty much inclined to say nobody is. No one is talking about the state as analogous to a human body with the various classes working harmoniously together, war as a tool of purification, the glory of the Roman Empire and the need for Italy to return to it, or Lebensraum.

    As to the nature of the US, I’d be more inclined to agree with Niall Ferguson when he compared it to the British Empire in the nineteenth century than to agree with anyone claiming it is “fasicst”. I don’t think there is any point in making this argument here, because after the way the Brits treated India, there’s probably a lot of Indians who would prefer that the US be fascist.


  27. “As to the issue of who’s fascist, I’m pretty much inclined to say nobody is. ”

    I am sure the Nazis would agree with you — it does not pay for a fascist to be identified as one, does it?

  28. The more central point is that “the shining light of freedom and democracy on the planet” like to fund fascists and terrorist groups all over the planet using proxies — this is done to score geopolitical goals.

    The USA has been funding anti-India terrorism for decades using the Pakistani army as a proxy and seem to have an imperative to continue to do so. On top of this, they want India to scratch Pakistan’s itch, so that Pakistan will be more pliable to US concerns even if they increase terrorism on India and Indians. With “strategic partners” like the USA, India does not need any real enemies to screw its interests.

  29. “No one is talking about the state as analogous to a human body with the various classes working harmoniously together, war as a tool of purification, the glory of the Roman Empire and the need for Italy to return to it, or Lebensraum.”

    What is this irrelevant horse hockey? Who is talking about a human body other than you?

  30. Hi,

    Alagu Periaswamy, I was referencing certain key points of historical Fascist and National Socialist ideology in the 1930’s in this paragraph:

    “No one is talking about the state as analogous to a human body with the various classes working harmoniously together, war as a tool of purification, the glory of the Roman Empire and the need for Italy to return to it, or Lebensraum.”

    My point was just that Fascism and the Nazis have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Read up on Nazism and Fascism before you call others Nazis, Fascists, Islamofascists, etc. Reading your comments is convincing me that some elements of the Indian National Security community may gone as far around the bend as some elements of the US National Security community.


  31. I’m no Nazi sympathizer but I think it is insulting to the Nazis to compare Taleban to them LOLZ. These guys are no way near in terms of power, territorial reach, capability and ability to influence the masses. Neither are they nationalistic (heck they don’t even have a nation) nor can they influence people through religion like Saudi Arabia or Iran. Not to mention these guys are “dumb idiots”. The Taleban movement has completely splintered (I think it was a great move by US that facilitated this though I don’t have conclusive evidence for this). Though Hamid Gul might still claim that Mullah Omar is the “undisputed leader”. This increases my earlier suspicion that Omar himself is an ISI asset.

    Anyways enough digression. Back to “Fascism”. I think there is only one country currently in the world that would quite fit the description of “fascist”. And that would be PRC. Contrary to “People’s Republic of Capitalism” labeling by many in the West, most of the mid-level companies are connected to folks in PLA and CPC. That said, it is yet to be seen whether it will turn out like “Nazi Germany”.

    A little bit OT. People who give too much power to Islamists fall into their TRAP by considering Islam to be a more dominant force than anything else among the people. This is simply not true. There is always fighting between Shia and Sunni, racism among Arab Muslims towards their Pakistani counterparts for instance, different ethnicities (Punjabis, Sindhis, Mohajirs and Pashtuns for instance), different sects within Islam etc. This is why the idea of Caliphate will never work. In fact this is why Ottoman empire collapsed. Of course, mischief by the British contributed as it always did.

    Islamists are a tool that can effectively by a bigger power towards achieving its own objective. But they themselves cannot accomplish diddly squat.

  32. some idiot writes:
    “These guys are no way near in terms of power, territorial reach, capability and ability to influence the masses.”

    What a bloody stupid thing to say. None of those factors have anything to do with whether the Taliban are Nazi-like or not. It has to do with ideology.
    Did you bother looking up the dictionary, genius? This is the webster entry on Fascism.

    “1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”.

    The Pakistani Army fits all of the above characteristics already, and the “good taliban” are the Pakistani Army irregulars.

  33. “My point was just that Fascism and the Nazis have gone the way of the Dodo bird. ”

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious — I did not realize World War II was over.

    The point I am making is that Nazis were the last group of fascists to walk this earth. You want to pretend that the earth is currently devoid of fascist ideology? Knock yourself out, but don’t pretend that “your deep reading on Nazis” makes your moronic claim that “Fascism is dead forever” is correct. There are islamofascists running around and the US wants to call them “al-qaeda” for whatever reason, but the ideology those people push is plain and simple fascism. Just because you are too stupid to comprehend simple terms defined in the dictionary but “have read many large books on Nazis”, it does not make your right.

  34. Correction:

    “The point I am making is that Nazis are NOT the last group of fascists to walk this earth. “

  35. @ AP

    “The Pakistani Army fits all of the above characteristics already, and the “good taliban” are the Pakistani Army irregulars.”

    What about the “bad Taleban”? Or is it your contention that there is no such thing at all and it is all a conspiracy theory by Pak Army.

    “What a bloody stupid thing to say. None of those factors have anything to do with whether the Taliban are Nazi-like or not. It has to do with ideology.”

    No it doesn’t. Not for me at least. May be for an “Internet warrior” like you. If you are setting real policy decisions to combat them, all the things that I mentioned are vital. Ideology itself is worth diddly squat if one doesn’t have the capability, power and influence to impose that. TALIBAN DO NOT. As simple as that. End of discussion.

    Pak also cannot compare with Nazi Germany. Again that is giving too much power to Pak Army + ISI. If they are so powerful why has Pak become “suicide bombing capital” of the world? Why can’t they prohibit Uncle from periodic drone attacks? They can’t even build an INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE for Christ’s sake. Nazi Germany? Yeah right!! Don’t make me barf.

  36. The “bad taliban” are the ones not cooperating with the Pakistani army like Baitullah Mehsud and others, who want to take the Pakistani Army down. The only people who talk of “good taliban” and “bad taliban” are Pakistanis and Americans and their acolytes. The Pashtun groups that oppose the Pakistani army are called “bad taliban” — all of them dislike the US, so from that perspective, they are not US-friendly.

    If people here pretend to know better, I would like them to name one “bad taliban” group that is on the side of the Pakistani army (or a “good taliban” group that is against the Pakistani army).

  37. “Pak also cannot compare with Nazi Germany. Again that is giving too much power to Pak Army + ISI. ”

    Words are defined by books are dictionaries, not by people with a tenuous grip on the language who want to redefine words to their convenience. So you may not like the fact that Pakistanis and Pakistani army are following a fascist religious ideology, but the word “fascism” fits the behaviour of the religious and political and military elite in Pakistan. If you can’t handle the truth… Pakistani islamo-fascist ideology is very similar to the Nazi ideology is a fact, and that is determined by the semantics of the words as defined in the dictionary, not by you and me.

  38. Hi,

    We’re getting pretty far afield.

    The point of Nitin’s post is that Robin Rafel has demonstrated an attitude which is strongly pro-Pakistan and anti-India. Indians have noticed this. They will therefore regard anyone who brings Robin Rafel back and put her in a policy making position as hostile to India. The US should be aware of this and not be startled if using Robin in negotiations involving India is counterproductive.

    I’m pretty sure we all actually agree with this.

    There’s a wide assortment of issues we don’t agree about. To the best of my knowledge, none of these have much direct bearing on Robin Rafel. We could probably easily produce a hundred comments, all read only by ourselves and other commenters looking for the mistakes we’re making. So why not agree with Nitin on the issues raised by his post and write in other forums about other things?


  39. @ AP

    “Pakistani islamo-fascist ideology is very similar to the Nazi ideology is a fact, and that is determined by the semantics of the words as defined in the dictionary, not by you and me.”

    Sorry but these are more than just “words”, they are POLITICAL CONCEPTS, one might even say they DESCRIBE a “way of life”. So they HAVE TO BE INTERPRETED by people like others CONCEPTS such as “culture” and “religion”.

  40. Arvind:
    “They are POLITICAL CONCEPTS, one might even say they DESCRIBE a “way of life”. So they HAVE TO BE INTERPRETED by people like others CONCEPTS such as “culture” and “religion”.”

    Riiiight, you must belong to the school of thought that thinks “gravity is a social construct” .

    Your attitude is exactly what I mean by people ignoring the standard definition of words, and redefining words to their convenience. I am done with your worthless idiocy.

    The rule in a conversation is that people use the standard meaning for words that come out of their mouth or fingers….that is why they invented this thing called a dictionary. So peddle your mental diarrhoea somewhere else.

  41. Hi,

    “Right, change the topic when proven wrong. Nice going.”

    I’ve used this tactic a few times, but that wasn’t what I was doing here. My point here was simply that I know from experience that this isn’t going anywhere. “Islamofascism” doesn’t exist.

    The Islamic enemies of the US and India mostly follow a variant of Wahhabi or Deobandi Islamic teaching that holds that the meaning of the Koran is apparent from reading the Koran itself and you just have to follow it. By choosing only the passages that they want to choose from the Koran, they can justify pretty much anything {you can do the same with the Christian Bible, so this problem is not unique to Islam}. Most Muslims, in both Pakistan and India, pretty much despise this interpretation of the Koran.

    The impression I have is that Muslim religious fanatics, willing to kill and to die for oversimplified interpretations of Islam, are not a new thing in India. I’m completely perplexed about why an Indian would use the concept of “Islamofascism”, invented in the US to sell support for Israel and the war in Iraq. Why not just call the other side Wahhabis or Deobandis?

    Talking about fascism only brings in the historical experience of the US and Great Britain in their war against Hitler and Mussolini. What this means to an Indian, which had an army fighting for Great Britain and an army under Subhas Chandra Bose fighting for Japan is not obvious. I mean, I know why the neocons do it over here. They hope to increase support for their war in the US by linking it with the war against Hitler and Mussolini which pretty much everyone in the US agrees was justified. My experience with US neocons has not done much to convince me that arguing with them will lead to increased understanding, much less agreement. So when you write about Islamofascism I tend to tune out. Neither you nor I disagree with Nitin, this is Nitin’s blog, not yours or mine, so why not stop here?


  42. Alagu Periaswamy & Arvind,

    Raymond has a point. I don’t see any sense in piling up on one person just because he happens to be American. Even if he disagrees with you, or me, or the blog post: but in this case, he’s not even doing that.

    I am surprised that this forum has begun to become a source of heat and less a source of light. Not sure if the moderator is around, but I sure would like him to moderate things a bit.

  43. @Raymond Turney

    “busy comparing the US to Nazi Germany”

    You’ve just validated the fact that you do not know what you’re talking about and are speaking out of your a$$. The comparison (if you would bother to examine carefully) was to the Taliban and not the US. It’s probably this defensive thinking that prompts your even more defensive responses.

    “Robin’s viewpoint is probably not particularly unusual among US diplomats.”

    Hence 9/11 and the continued lack of success in Afghanistan.

    And a low blow is hard to deliver when you don’t have the cockles in your heart to feel anything. And this blog has a comments section in it. I think Nitin would like to hear other opinions on the topic of his blog entry. So Raymond, take your amateurish arguments on showing restraint in posting comments to the NYT and Washington Post blogs. You’ll feel right at home there.

  44. @ Udayan

    “Raymond has a point. I don’t see any sense in piling up on one person just because he happens to be American. ”

    I never did this. I also WAS NOT the one who said he shouldn’t post here because he is an American. In any case, I am glad for his posts here because he gives a perspective of how some people in the State Dept might think through these things.

    I don’t agree with his idea of “censoring” some comments here. For instance, his view that we should not criticize US foreign policy because it is, you know, the business of US and none of ours. That is the wrong attitude. Heck he can criticize whatever he wants about India. Sure I might be upset sometime and might try to counter it but I wouldn’t say “You are an American so u can’t say anything about India”. I think he also confounds the opinion of “private individuals” here with that of GoI. I don’t think GoI cares about any of this LOLZ!

    Anyways I’m done here. Written a lot on this topic which, I have to agree with Ray, doesn’t warrant so much attention.

  45. Comment deleted – repeatedly ignoring express warnings will result in comments being deleted. Sorry – Ed

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