Ron Paul on the Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 6 months ago

I just heard Ron Paul in the S.C. GOP debate say that we mustn’t mix the Taliban and al Qaeda – the Taliban were our allies in the war to evict the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, and are only concerned with ensuring that there are no foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Just to cover again what we’ve previously discussed concerning the Pakistani Taliban:

… they have evolved into a much more radical organization than the original Taliban bent on global engagement, what Nicholas Schmidle calls the Next-Gen Taliban. The TTP shout to passersby in Khyber “We are Taliban! We are mujahedin! “We are al-Qaida!”  There is no distinction.  A Pakistan interior ministry official has even said that the TTP and al Qaeda are one and the same.

Nick Schmidle – who is also a genuinely good guy and a scholar – gave us a learned warning shot over the bow.  It was reiterated by David Rohde who was in captivity by the Taliban.

“Living side by side with the Haqqanis’ followers, I learned that the goal of the hard-line Taliban was far more ambitious. Contact with foreign militants in the tribal areas appeared to have deeply affected many young Taliban fighters. They wanted to create a fundamentalist Islamic emirate with Al Qaeda that spanned the Muslim world.”

As for the Quetta Shura, Mohammed Omar’s group, to whom the Pakistani Taliban have pledged fealty, we’ll let Omar speak for himself from a BBC interview – never officially released – done just after 9/11.

Ron Paul is wrong.

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  1. On January 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm, davod said:

    Someone should have attacked Paul on this. The Taliban did not exist until after the Soviets left.

  2. On January 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm, Rich K said:

    Of course he’s wrong. It goes without saying that anything he says is wrong and it begs the question of why you all continue to point it out. BTW, the sky is blue, Imagine that.

  3. On January 17, 2012 at 12:07 am, Warbucks said:

    Since I plan to vote for Ron Paul, that pretty much insures he will not win as my guys never seem to win in a Presidential race. So I will save the rest of you by voting for him.

  4. On January 17, 2012 at 12:26 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Rich, I guess you mean “ensures” rather than “insures.”

    Oh, BTW, the Taliban have every intention of holding power again in Afghanistan after we’re through … ahem … “negotiating” with them.

  5. On January 17, 2012 at 3:42 am, MIke Jones said:

    So, when do we win in Afghanistan? What will it look like?

    I can give a rat’s behind about what caused the Taliban. I don’t see a point in spending hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars to rebuild that rats nest. We do posses tactical nukes, you know.

  6. On January 17, 2012 at 6:18 am, Tatterdemalian said:

    There stopped being a distinction between the Taliban and Al Qaeda when the Taliban refused to surrender Osama bin Laden to face trial for the 9/11 attacks. They killed American soldiers to prevent justice from being done, and in the end succeeded in perverting the legal system by forcing us to bring him back dead instead of alive.

    There also ceased to be a distinction between the Pakistani military and Al Qaeda for the same reason.

  7. On January 17, 2012 at 6:59 am, Brett Bellmore said:

    Paul’s wrong about it. Problem is, all the other candidates are wrong about so many things you could write a book about it, and still have material left over.

    Somebody point out to me one of these clowns who isn’t wrong about something desperately important.

  8. On January 17, 2012 at 7:20 am, TS Alfabet said:

    It’s worth pointing this little item out about Ron Paul because there are seemingly so many people out there who still take him seriously simply because he can manage to sound half-coherent about reducing the size of the federal government. He is a one-trick pony that has no business being on stage at these debates. If there is any silver lining about Ron Paul’s 20% support level it may be that such support indicates a powerful desire by so many to see the federal government cut back to Constitutional proportions. That desire is so strong that it overrides every, other rational evaluation of Ron Paul’s otherwise nutty philosophy.

  9. On January 17, 2012 at 10:03 am, Warbucks said:

    There also seems to be one little problem with an embedded military industrial complex which operates entirely on its own authority and has for decades… a phenomena which a growing number of people are rapidly piecing together from the own experiences and public evidence:

  10. On January 17, 2012 at 10:17 am, Herschel Smith said:

    As I’ve done before Rich, before engaging in a discussion over the “imperial” behavior of our armed forces, you need to go back and read Robert Kaplan’s “Imperial Grunts,” all of it but especially the first chapter entitled “Injun Country.”

    As for the so-called “military-industrial complex,” to me that has become a sophomoric phrase people use when they don’t know how to say what they really want to say. The phrase means nothing whatsoever to me. Nothing.

  11. On January 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm, Mike Homiller said:

    He is completely wrong to claim “the Taliban were our allies in the war to evict the Soviet Union from Afghanistan”. The Mujahaddin were our allies, the Taliban did not come into existence until several years after the Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan. Although some of the Mujahaddin joined the Taliban, the two organizations are distinct.

  12. On January 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm, DonM said:

    I am glad that Ron Paul is on stage. When he opens his mouth it gives the American people a chance to evaluate him. He normally discredits himself with one outrageous falsehood every debate. Sometimes more.

    The Taliban were created by Pakistani intelligence in 1993, after the Soviets left Afghanistan, to support the civil war of Pakistani intelligence against the Pakistani Army. A key point in the Taliban’s growth was the corruption of the Afghan government, caused largely by the profits in distrubution of illegal opium. Being illegal means government officials have to be bribed, leading to corruption.

    You can’t buy an Afghan, but you can rent one.

    The US legally pruchases opium for medical use from Turkey and India. We could also legally purchase a share of our needs from Afghanistan, at prices that would give the farmers more than what they get from illegal sales.

  13. On January 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm, DonM said:

    There is no military industrial complex, operating as its own commander, rationale and constituency.

    Defense contractors work to provide products for the defense services, based on contracts. Contracts must be approved by the service, and funded by the Congress (normally with signature of president). Congress must be elected every 2 years by the People, most of whom do not work for defense contractors, nor defense services.

    The president acts as commander in chief, within the constraints of congressional funding, and public law written by congress.

  14. On January 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm, ZSorenson said:

    Ron Paul is right about the fact that the attempts of the United States to project power have had unintended consequences.

    He is right about the fact that these peoples in the Middle East have no reason to support US policy there. That isn’t to say that our policy isn’t well intentioned, or that there’s a moral equivalency between ourselves and some of these rogue gangs (mullahs, Mahdi army, Taliban). Why does Pakistani intelligence have more credibility amongst the Afghan population than the US Army? After all, if they didn’t, would it be so hard to ‘win’ there.

    None of the above. Afghanistan operates by socio-political rules incompatible with Western thought. By declaring war on the Taliban, our objective and terms of peace should have been the apprehension and disruption of Al-Qaeda. Mind you, other nations worked with us against this enemy. Regime change is an impossible policy – you can’t maintain objectives without a political unit to accept them. By definition, then, your war objectives must pertain to external policies not internal ones. In other words, you can’t have ‘ending the regime’ as a political objective. This only makes sense in total war – as was WWII – when war and peace are existential matters. A terrorist attack, no matter how devastating, is not existential.

    Our policy was regime change, because we wanted to create a Middle East that would play ball in the global financial scheme, who could be trusted to never cause trouble again. Everyone admits that that has been a failed policy.

    We should have declared war on the Taliban, gone after Al Qaeda ourselves, killed Taliban leaders, dangling an olive branch if they agreed to let us get Osama. But as soon as they gave us an excuse, we declared that they would suffer unconditional defeat, their leaders and members would face indefinite detention, and that Afghanistan would be ruled by a ‘democracy’ which everyone knows is corrupt, allied with the West, and of little consequence to the tribal areas. Ergo, the Taliban has continued to fight. I’m sure Pakistani intelligence has reasons to support them – I’m sure they are probably rational from their perspective – and that if we fought for our defense exclusively, would leave us alone. No better way to lose support then to attack the sleeping giant. But, on the other hand, Al Qaeda becomes a valuable asset once America starts meddling…

    The substance of Paul’s policies are valid, nitpicking the proximate details of his statements doesn’t negate the mistakes we are making.
    Vigilance is the price of security. To pay for empire – the shaping of affairs of other nations for your own national objectives – the price is our, and everyone else’s, liberty.

  15. On January 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    So let me get this straight. Completely and totally and mis-identifying the enemy is a “nitpick of the proximate details?” Did you listen to the video, did you read the linked posts?

  16. On January 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm, TS Alfabet said:


    your ability to put together two, coherent sentences about the Taliban and A-stan means that you have more intelligence than Ron Paul, so why are you bothering to try to defend him with such obfuscation? I agree that the GOP field is woefully thin, but you don’t need to scrape the barrel with Paul, do you? If Ron Paul could explain himself even half as well as you did, he would only be laughed at behind his back. As it is, he is GOP village idiot in these debates where even Fox News hosts are embarrassed for him as he rambles from one talking point to the next and grasps at any conspiracy straw that comes to mind. He makes Rick Perry look absolutely silver-tongued.

    Mockery aside, regime change is a perfectly attainable and proper goal, not only for A-stan but also Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya et al… IF it done correctly. In other words, there is nothing inherently problematic with pursuing regime change, particularly if the Regime poses a definite risk to U.S. security. The efforts to effect Regime change will, of course, form a sliding scale based upon the degree of danger posed by the given Regime. Saddam, for example, arguably posed a serious risk to U.S. security in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 and prospect that he would soon be free of sanctions and no-fly zones and what we knew (or didn’t know) about his WMD’s. Did the risk require a mass invasion? Reasonable minds can disagree. Same calculus with Iran. Compare Libya. What risk did Qaddafi pose to the U.S.? Not much. He had pretty well given in to U.S. demands to stop screwing around with sponsoring terror. Regime change there could have been pursued with far more subtle and long-term methods.

    There was no alternative to regime change in A-stan after 9-11. The Taliban had to go once they allied themselves with Al Qaeda. The problem wasn’t regime change as a goal, but the misguided notion that the U.S. could install a democratic government in Kabul that would be recognized by the people. There are a million different ways of doing regime change, we happened to pick a bad one. Lesson learned, I hope.

    But Ron Paul is not merely criticizing the way in which we went about changing a Taliban regime. He is clearly drawing an equivalent between the Taliban and a legitimate government such as the U.S. He is lending a veneer of legitimacy to them that they do not deserve. Worse, he has repeatedly said that the U.S. deserved to be attacked on 9-11 and since. He is under the naive notion that the U.S. can simply pull back its defenses to North America and everyone will like the U.S. and not bother us and we will save lots of money. It is an idiot fantasy that only adolescents, Ron Paul and Leftists like Obama believe. You are too smart for that, I’m sure.

  17. On January 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm, richard40 said:

    It is also a myth to say we supported the Taliban in the Afganistan war with the USSR. We mainly supported the faction that later became known as the Northern Alliance, which we again supported to evict the Taliban, and that faction never supported El Quaida. The Taliban got most of their support from Pakistan or the Saudis.

    And the Taliban was not just concerned with expelling foreigners, or they would not have given El Quaida access to training camps in Afganistan.

  18. On January 17, 2012 at 7:57 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Z suffers from the same problem that Ron Paul suffers from. Let’s use Iran as an example. Iran, since they are at the very root just like us, is only pursuing nuclear weapons because of our own hegemony in the world and because they see us as an existential threat. If we simply behave, Iran will be docile.

    But the radical Iranian Mullahs see things in an apocalyptic and eschatological way. Would they use a nuclear weapon? If they thought that it was the right time to usher in the 12th Imam, they would. Listen to their own writings.

    The problem of course is that we see things from as Western world view, and not just a Western world view, but a Western secular world view. The Middle East and central Asia cannot be viewed that way and be successful and accurate.

  19. On January 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm, Warbucks said:

    I really don’t mind suffering from the same problem as Ron Paul suffers from …. whatever dimension you chose to define him as suffering. He is a rare true hero on a rarer still heroic mission unseen in the likes of political candidates on the circuit today. He is perhaps one of the only candidates that will face down this beast we have created in government.

    We are just one more false flag event away from having all the recent laws passed by a significantly corrupted and cowardly Congress from having all the new laws recently passed, go into effect and you will then see all liberties evaporate in the stroke of a pen.

    The enemy is within our own ranks.

  20. On January 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Stop it Rich. You insist on making this out to be something that it’s not. Ron Paul isn’t some kind of hero. Save your hero designations for winners of the Navy Cross and MoH. I am calling him out as delusional, confused and entirely wrong-headed because of his limited world view and inability to see life beyond the Western secular mindset.

  21. On January 18, 2012 at 1:12 am, Jim Harris said:

    “… and inability to see life beyond the Western secular mindset.” I agree with all the last statement but the last phrase. I’m not sure what is meant.

    However, I would agree to a phrase something like “… a 1920s/30s era isolationist mindset.” It was wrong then ( as WWII showed, and it’s even more wrong now.

  22. On January 18, 2012 at 8:40 am, TS Alfabet said:

    The definition of “hero” would have to lose all meaning before it could be applied to Ron Paul. He is a one-issue crank and that’s all. He is the embodiment of myopia.

    The only good thing I can say about him is that he has at least confirmed that there is such a great desire in the electorate to rein in the federal government that people are willing to ignore his other, absurd positions. The other GOP candidates should be talking more about reducing the size of government.

  23. On January 18, 2012 at 8:48 am, Warbucks said:

    TS… You are on to something true and meaningful.

  24. On January 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm, Qaqa Jan said:

    My dear friends,
    To assert that the Taliban are monolithic is nonsense. That Haqqani is Mohd. Omar is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is … simply begs reality. But, doxa overwhelms epistos in the Western mind such that anyone within the arbitrary boundry of Afghanistan is an Afghan. In truth, only the Pukhtu are Afghan, the others are irredentists. Further, that the Sunni Pukhtu of the Hanifi rite are salafi al Qaida is absurd.
    Mr. Paul is correct in his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. We press our buffoonery into a land about which we only know through the grotesque anecdotes of ex Peace Corp house cats and academics who spent time cloistered in Kabul with pro western Parchami. We have placed a civil war on hold while we vainly distribute merit badges to our young men as they maim and are maimed by an angry population fed up with foreign occupiers.
    Our meddling has increasingly infuriated an entire nation by empowering youthful rogues to murder and worse through our amalgamation of Uzbek, Tajik, Turkman and Hazara into a so-called National Army (ANA) to control the Pukhtu. Similarly our predilection has resulted in the National Police (ANP) and so on.
    Had we been serious about bin Laden (UBL) and al Qaida we wouldn’t have dispatched a hack writer from one of our weekly penny dreadful magazines to wheedle the release of the muslim UBL from muslim Mohd Omar. But that is what we did and the consequences are obvious.
    If we had been serious about UBL we would not have relied on ‘fellow musilman’ for his apprehension in Tora Bora.
    Had we been serious we would not have yielded control to the French Communist Party in the Bonn Agreement.
    Had we been serious, we would not have allowed the posturing Zalmai Khalilzad to install the capricious puppet Karzai.
    If we had been really serious we would never have poured billions of cash dollars in to country in which our paper can’t even boil water and leads to stupidities in the UAE.
    Our thrashing about senselessly is driven by a vast misunderstanding of the reality of Afghanistan; a misunderstanding prompted and fostered by President Clinton to divert attention from his sexual proclivities, by a sycophantic feminist movement, by a bored United Nations and by special interest groups here, in Europe and Russia. The result is the eye popping disaster that is Afghanistan today.
    By relating this fool’s epoch I wish to point out that we have successfully created an abject failure. You are free to believe what you will concerning Afghanistan and its peoples, but Mr. Paul is absolutely correct: get out of Afghanistan and permit the Afghans to determine their own future in their own terms.
    dekhoda-i pamon
    Qaqa Jan

  25. On January 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Qaqa Jan,

    Your comments are as ridiculous as your nom de guerre. I know all about the Haqqani group, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the various Kashmiri groups, the TTP, the Quetta group, the so-called “ten-dollar Taliban” fighters, and so on and so forth.

    No one ever asserted that the Taliban is monolithic. You just made that up.

  26. On January 19, 2012 at 9:06 am, TS Alfabet said:

    If I may attempt to dredge from the sludge of QaQa’s comment something of value, it would be this: that both Pakistan and A-stan are not really nations at all but artificial constructs based on almost arbitrary borders. QaQa’s ramblings show that ethnicity and tribal affiliation are still, in their minds, more important than any national identity. Pashtun, Urdu, Hazari, et al… Fine.

    It was certainly the height of arrogance and blindness for the U.S. to suppose that it could assemble a working, national government out of the mish mash of tribes and ethnicities and religious sects.

    One of the many sad lessons learned from our odyssey in A-stan is that some people are not ready for even the 18th century. A-stan and P-stan should probably exist as a decentralized hodge podge of autonomous, tribal regions, run by warlords and left alone, provided that they do not harbor the enemy (in which case we blow the enemy and those foolish enough to co-locate near them to smithereens). No need for billions of dollars of development funds. A few million to the warlords willing to let us set up some bases for intel and recon and we’re good to go.

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You are currently reading "Ron Paul on the Taliban", entry #8126 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Taliban,Tehrik-i-Taliban and was published January 16th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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