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The Loyal Opposition: Lessons From Afghanistan

One Herat resident quoted in the report said, "[Afghan warlord] Ismail Khan and his followers ... their hands are bloody. For them, killing a bird is the same as killing a man." Yet when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited with Ismail Khan last spring, he called the warlord "an appealing person.... He’s thoughtful, measured and self-confident."

In many ways, Afghanistan seems to be sliding back to pre-Taliban conditions. And it's likely to get worse as the world turns its attention to Iraq and the early outpouring of aid dries up. And as the Guardian reports, if one of the many attempts to assassinate Hamid Karzai succeeds, the new Afghan government is toast.

The two most important ingredients in breeding terrorism are a failed government and an absolutist rallying cry. Combine this with the possible outpouring of Islamist anti-Americanism as a result of the war on Iraq, and you have a recipe for a return to the Taliban. The Taliban itself is not likely to come back any time soon, as their name is anathema to most everybody. But a conservative Islamic group with an anti-American agenda, and an openness to harboring terrorists, is not out of the question.


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