This, of course, was written some time ago. These days the Barack Obama administration talks more about the Taliban than al-Qaeda. There seem to be a thousand Taliban fighting the U.S. for every al-Qaeda that shows up for battle. The administration (filled with the vultures of yesteryear) hedges its bets on how easy it will be to sell off the remnants, or at least on getting some of the Taliban to betray Afghanistan by getting in bed with America. The administration openly talks about bribing Afghans to switch to the U.S. side, which is how things are done in Chicago, so I can't say it won't work for Obama in this case, too.
The soldiers in my dispatch, of course, were Russian. Indeed, just as I recall the Soviet officer who told us all at Bagram air base that the "mujahedin terrorism remnants" were all that was left of the West's conspiracy against peace-loving (and Communist) Afghans, so I observed the American spokesmen—yes, at the very same Bagram air base—who today cheerfully assert that al-Qaeda "remnants" are all that are left of bin Laden's legions.
The remnant sale is very important to the rulers of America, who are selling the American public as much as they are selling Afghans. The Afghan warlords, who have their own reason to hate the Taliban and are happy to take American "aid" while enjoying U.S. help in cutting some of their competitors out of poppy business, may not even really want the Taliban to win. They remember how America abandoned them as soon as the last Russian tank left Afghan soil.
Of course what Fisk is trying to say is that the "remnants" are the people of Afghanistan. The only way to get rid of them is to engage in genocide. As poor as my opinion of Obama has become, I doubt he's ready to commit genocide on the massive scale that would be required to win the war in Afghanistan. True, it worked against the American Indians, and it worked for the U.S. in the Philippines, but it failed in Vietnam. In fact, it would take more than mere genocide. It would take pro-American settlers, probably actual American settlers, to fill in the ecological niche opened up, otherwise in a generation or two the Afghans would breed back up to threatening levels.
But maybe I underestimate President Obama. I have consistently underestimated him since he was just another corrupt politician from Chicago.
Take the Nobel Peace Prize. Most men would have felt they had to negotiate a peace, or at least a temporary cease fire, or decline the prize, but not Obama. He talked of "just war" as if he were engaged in one. He pretends to be sophisticated, but he's no different than any previous American president. America is always just; whoever we attack is evil. George Bush could not have put it better.
Humans have the capacity of learning by aping other humans, but there is another lest-talked about human ability. Deciding that a behavior is stupid, and should not be aped. Learning from other people's failures is a perfectly valid education paradigm.
Barack Obama was able to learn how to get to be President of the United States. But having seen the U.S. fail in Vietnam, and the Russians fail in Afghanistan, he is still drawn to an unwinnable war in Afghanistan the way a cheap politician is drawn to a tawdry campaign contribution. To withdraw from Afghanistan without "victory" would undercut Obama's understanding with the military-industrial-investment banking complex. He has always covered up his lack of other skills with his rhetorical flourishes. But the Taliban seem immune to his rhetoric.
It is Winter in Afghanistan. The Afghan nationalists (aka Taliban) traditionally don't fight in winter, so moving in another 30,000 or so American troops will be easy enough. That is the nature of a quagmire, as both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon learned in Vietnam. If the invaded nation is determined, the war goes on until the invaders quit.