Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Don't bother me with facts

Grrrr. Why do Conservatives refuse to believe facts, even their own?

Damian at Babbling Brooks - in the midst of making a good point about tribal identities in Afghanistan - goes off the deep end.
Given the fact that the Pakistani government is at least nominally an ally in the War on Terror and that the Iranian government is undoubtedly more hostile to Western interests in the region, if the insurgency is truly due to foreign support, shouldn't the Iranian border be coloured red instead of green?

Don't tell me the Iranians wouldn't stir things up if they could. Don't tell me they're not hoping NATO, the UN, and especially the hated Americans get their collective noses bloodied fighting a guerilla war in Afghanistan. My guess is that they're trying their damndest to capitalize on whatever Afghan discontent they can find, but the locals on the Iranian border aren't biting.
And Damian links to a map here, (PDF) which shows that the most volatile regions of Afghanistan are roughly the south and the border with Pakistan.

It's widely accepted that Iran has, at the very least, influence with Shia groups in Iraq. So it's worth exploring whether or not Iran would gain from sponsoring attacks in Afghanistan, and why or why not Iran would do such a thing.

First, any precipitous departure of the coalition in 2002 or 2003 could have brought about a return of the Taliban. This would be the same Taliban who murdered thousands of Shia and sent thousands more fleeing to Iran. So no, Iran wouldn't want that.

Secondly, if Iran's fingerprints were found on any attack, well then that's a link between Tehran and the Taliban, isn't it? Or at least as solid a link as one needs for a war these days. Fire up the jets, we're goin' to Tehran!

Thirdly - and Damian is either ignorant of these facts or has forgotten - the Iranians offered immense assistance to the Americans during the months after 9/11. This included allowing American overflights in case of downed pilots, and sharing Iranian contacts in the Northern Alliance with the CIA. Damian may not like this idea, but the Iranians were covertly fighting the Taliban long before 9/11, and have no desire to see their return.

So no, Damian, Iran wouldn't be attacking Americans in Afghanistan, even if they could, because to do so would be counterproductive to their own interests. But no, when shown evidence that Iran's border with Afghanistan is the calm one, a Conservative needs to start spinning theories about how the Iranians are trying to make trouble and failing at it.


DazzlinDino said...

Another reason the map looks the way it does, is the plan of attack the Canadian troops have there. Certainly the majority of tribes welcome the aid, but the plan of attack was laid out months ago. They go into a province, help rid it of hostiles, help the military and police with training until they are able to properly defend the area, and then move on to the next province. It's a much better plan than the US half-hazard-chase-the-terrorists-willy-nilly idea, and it leaves aft areas more secure.

Babbling Brooks said...

Good points about Iranian 'enemy of my enemy' realpolitik. I hadn't considered that angle, and I agree that that tangential aspect of the post was ill-conceived.

I still believe Iran would "stir things up if they could" in Afghanistan, though. If there was a real chance to install a Shia theocracy in Afghanistan, instead of a Sunni one, I say they'd be all over that opportunity.

Glad to know I'm not just preaching to the choir, though.