The secret to Western success in Afghanistan: NATO must train the Taliban!

Completely untrained Afghan Mujahideen troops, the same people who later became the Taliban, stand atop a Soviet helicopter they downed in 1979. Below, Leonid Brezhnev.

I’ve got it! The way to move toward peace and progress in Afghanistan, that is.

Starting immediately, NATO needs to arm and train the Taliban!

This may sound crazy, as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Canadian contingent is now preparing to train the Afghan National Army (ANA) to a point where it can take over the war against the Taliban.

As we all know, the Taliban needs to be defeated by NATO because, an attack on one member of NATO must be responded to by all members. (Unless, of course the NATO member whose ships are being attacked at sea is Turkey, and the attacker is Israel, but let’s not go there just now.) So if the ANA can’t be trained to defeat the Taliban on its own, the Taliban may launch a mass attack on Western Europe and then by merit of our NATO obligations we’d all have to be involved in a war in Afghanistan!

Wait! We are all involved in a war in Afghanistan. Give us a minute and we’ll come up with something better. In the mean time, though, let’s just assume that the ANA simply must be able to defeat the Taliban. You know, they need to be able to stand up so that we can stand down.

Now, where were we? Oh yeah… Unfortunately, for one reason or another, the efforts to train the ANA seem not to have gone very well. I read somewhere recently that it’s hard to even estimate how many soldiers the ANA has, apparently somewhere between 150,000 and 170,000 give or take, because so many Afghan recruits desert the minute they sign up and get a hot meal.

Moreover, out of all those soldiers, whom NATO has been arming and assiduously trying to train all these months and years, only two brigades are thought to be capable of fighting on their own as cohesive units. There are also apparently about 130,000 Afghan police working for the regime of President Hamid Karzai, what’s left of it, but their principal function is extorting money from ordinary Afghans and ensuring the steady flow of heroin to North America and Europe.

Mind you, this is not to say individual ANA soldiers aren’t capable of fighting. The problem is the only times they tend to get really enthusiastic about warfare is when they turn out to be supporters of the aforementioned Taliban and turn their guns on their NATO trainers. The fact this goes on is not particularly happy news for the Canadian NATO contingent in the new “non-combat” role “behind the wire” that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has assigned to them.

Which is what got me thinking about the urgent need for NATO to arm and train the Taliban.

You see, right now, the Taliban don’t get any military training at all, and certainly no help from the mighty, sophisticated and well-armed forces of NATO.

And yet, completely untrained, they seem to be able to hold their own against NATO with homemade bombs and old military rifles they stole from the Red Army when it was doing its Internationalist Duty in the 1980s.

And speaking of the Red Army, alert readers may recall what these same untrained Taliban insurgents did to the armed forces of the Soviet Union after Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev sent 100,000 or so troops into Afghanistan in 1979. The last Red Army troops skedaddled across the border and out of Afghanistan on Feb. 15, 1989.

So, thanks to their complete lack of training, the Taliban (which in those days went by the name of the Mujahideen, but it turns out it was the same guys, or their fathers, anyway) managed to defeat the mighty Red Army, something it’s not at all clear NATO’s armies could have done without resorting to nuclear weapons if the Reds had decided to invade Western Europe instead of the Hindu Kush.

If we were to arm and train the Taliban, however, it’s reasonable to expect that they would soon meet the standards of the ANA!

They would be, in other words, finished. Afghanistan would be well on its way to the adoption of the Western values we are fighting to defend – you know, beer, bacon and bikinis!

Obviously, it’s time to start talking with the Taliban about setting up a training schedule.

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3 Comments on "The secret to Western success in Afghanistan: NATO must train the Taliban!"

  1. Maglinks says:

    David, thanls for interesting lampoon of the Taliban training. To an extent, NATO (US & UK) did already train the Taliban/Mujahadeen. Their funding and support helped to drive the Soviets out of Afganhistan.

    That said, the real problem in the AfPak is the ISI, whom continue to fund the Taliban so they can hold sway over India in the region.

    The US funded Pakistan for too long, seemingly compounding their own regional security challenges.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't really matter what NATO country's ship Israel attacks. Look at the USS Liberty incident, for example.

  3. Jeff W says:


    You need to some basic research on the origins of the Taliban vis a vis the Mujahadeen. After the Mujahadeen drove out the Soviets, they formed the government in Afghanistan, disintegrated into competing warlord factions, were then mostly defeated by the Taliban in the ensuing civil war, and became the resistance to the Taliban under the moniker of the Northern Alliance. Some Mujahadeen warloads later allied themselves with the Taliban, but the Taliban genesis was completely independant and seperate from soviet era resistance fighters. Even Wikipedia gets this right.

    The urban legend that the Mujahadeen morphed into the Taliban is uneducated claptrap repeated by people who are againste western involvement in Afghanistan for any reason whatsoever. They continue to repeat it because it makes for convenient soundbites that support their gut level opinion, and not neccessarily because it is true. It fact, it is in the same ballpark as those in the far right of US politics who continue to insist that the 9/11 bombers came from Canada because it fits in with their wider political narrative. You can do much better than this.


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