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GET OUT OF AFGHANISTAN

 
 
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 11:38 am
Afghanistan is bigger and more populated than Iraq, and the terrain is more than just daunting. In the minds of many cognizant people, there is no way we can win in Afghanistan. Should we stay there, it will continue to be a massive drain on the lives of our military and our treasury. We must get
out -- it is a no-win situation should we stay.


Fall back, men, Afghanistan is a nasty war we can never win

Britain’s commanders ignored every warning that the Taliban were the toughest fighters on earthSimon Jenkins
The American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, flies to Britain this week to meet a crisis entirely of London and Washington’s creation. They have no strategy for the continuing occupation of Afghanistan. They are hanging on for dear life and praying for something to turn up. Britain is repeating the experience of Gordon in Khartoum, of the Dardanelles, Singapore and Crete, of politicians who no longer read history expecting others to die for their dreams of glory.

Every independent report on the Nato-led operation in Afghanistan cries the same message: watch out, disaster beckons. Last week America’s Afghanistan Study Group, led by generals and diplomats of impeccable credentials, reported on “a weakening international resolve and a growing lack of confidence”. An Atlantic Council report was more curt: “Make no mistake, Nato is not winning in Afghanistan.” The country was in imminent danger of becoming a failed state.

A clearly exasperated Robert Gates, the American defence secretary, has broken ranks with the official optimism and committed an extra 3,000 marines to the field, while sending an “unusually stern” note to Germany demanding that its 3,200 troops meet enemy fire. Germany, like France, has rejected that plea. Yet it is urgent since the Canadians have threatened to withdraw from the south if not relieved. An equally desperate Britain is proposing to send half-trained territorials to the front, after its commanders ignored every warning that the Taliban were the toughest fighters on earth.

Meanwhile Nato is doing what it does best, squabbling. Gates has criticised Britain for not taking the war against the insurgents with sufficient vigour. Britain is furious at America’s obsession with spraying the Helmand poppy crop and thus destroying all hope of winning hearts and minds. Most of the 37,000 soldiers wandering round Kabul were sent on the understanding that they would do no fighting. No army was ever assembled on so daft a premise.

Nato’s much-vaunted 2006 strategy has not worked. It boasted that its forces would only be guarding reconstruction and training the Afghan police. There would be no more counterproductive airstrikes against Pashtun villages. The Taliban would be countered by American special forces, with the Pakistan army attacking their rear. Two years ago anyone expressing scepticism towards this rosy scenario was greeted at Nato headquarters in Kabul with guffaws of laughter. Today that laughter must be music in Taliban ears.

Kabul is like Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war. It swarms with refugees and corruption while an upper crust of well-heeled contractors, consultants and NGO groupies careers from party to party in bullet-proof Land Cruisers. Spin doctors fighting a daily battle with the truth have resorted to enemy kill-rates to imply victory, General Westmoreland’s ploy in Vietnam.

This is a far cry from Britain’s 2001 pledges of opium eradication, gender-awareness and civic-governance classes. After 87 deaths and two years of operations in Helmand, the British Army cannot even secure one dam. Aid successes such as a few new schools and roads in the north look ever more tenuous as the country detaches itself from Kabul and tribal elders struggle to make terms with Taliban commanders.

There is plainly no way 6,000 British troops are ever going to secure, let alone pacify, the south. More soldiers will simply evince more insurgency. More American raids across the Pakistan border merely offer propaganda to Al-Qaeda in its radicalisation of the tribal areas. It was just such brutalism that preceded the Soviet escalation of the counterinsurgency war in the 1980s, and the rise of the (American-backed) precursors of the Taliban.

The best news out of Kabul is the increased disenchantment of the wily Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. Last week he vetoed the West’s offering of a former leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, Lord Ashdown, to co-ordinate operations in Kabul, whatever that might mean. Liberal democracy is not high on Karzai’s priority list.

He attacked the British for drawing the Taliban into his unregulated domain. When outside agents were thought to be negotiating with Taliban elements behind his back, he instantly expelled them from the country.

Meanwhile he has taken to making his own choice of provincial governors and commanders, often warlords enmeshed in the booming drugs trade. That trade offers Afghanistan its one staple income.

While the international community in Kabul wails that Karzai is too close to the druglords, the warlords and various sinister Taliban go-betweens, they are at least his warlords and his go-betweens. When Britain sacked the ruthless tribal chief, Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, as governor of Helmand, Karzai was furious and rightly predicted it would lead to a surge in Taliban aggression.

For all his faults, Karzai is both an elected leader and a canny one. He is a virtual prisoner of the Nato garrison in Kabul but Afghanistan remains his country and if he thinks he can cut deals across its political heartlands, let him. If he wants Nato to stop bombing Taliban bases in Pashtun villages and killing Pashtun tribal leaders, then it should stop.

Withdraw the opium eradication teams from Helmand. Let Karzai barter money for power and power for peace. The foreign “governance” pundits in Kabul might dream of Afghanistan as a latterday Sweden, but they are never going to bring Pashtuns, Baluchis, Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks into a stable federation.

Only an Afghan stands any chance of doing that, and the one Afghan on offer is Karzai.

Common sense advocates a demilitarisation of the occupation, with a withdrawal of western troops to Kabul where they can try to protect the capital and the northern trade routes. In provinces to the south and east, Karzai’s money, weapons and negotiating skills must deliver what results they can. The West cannot possibly police Afghanistan with anything remotely like the resources it has available.

Behind such a policy shift should lie an even more crucial one. For the past two decades intelligence lore has held that nothing happens along the Afghan/Pakistan frontier without agencies of the Pakistan army being involved. The latter’s pro-Taliban strategy through the 1990s was based on its obsession with “defence in depth” against India. Pakistan wanted Afghanistan stable, friendly and medieval. The security of the Punjab rested on the containment of the Pashtun tribal lands straddling the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border.

George W Bush’s reckless elevation of Al-Qaeda after 2001 promoted a small group of alien Arab guests into global warriors for Islam. It also destroyed Islamabad’s hold over the Taliban. America bribed the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf with $1 billion a year to declare a U-turn and fight his former allies.

Musharraf duly broke his non-intervention treaty with the Pashtun and sent his army against them. The Taliban’s influence increases with every attack and with every American bombing of villages. The Pakistan army is suffering greater losses in this war than either the British or the Americans.

Wise heads in Islamabad know that they must withdraw from the border and restore respect for tribal autonomy. Nothing else will incline the Pashtun and other tribes to reject Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies. The alternative is a growing insurgency that must destabilise whatever democratic regime might emerge from this month’s Pakistan elections. That prospect is far worse than whatever fate might befall Afghanistan.

There is no sensible alternative to ending military operations against the Pashtun, flying under whatever flag. Like Iraq’s Kurdistan, Pashtunistan is a country without a state. It has been cursed by history, but it returns that curse with interest when attacked. Fate has now handed it a starring role in Britain’s nastiest war in decades, and offered it the power to wreck an emergent democracy of vital interest to the West.

To have set one of the world’s most ancient and ferocious people on the warpath against both Kabul and Islamabad takes some doing. But western diplomacy has done it. Now must begin the agonising process of escaping that appalling mistake.

[email protected]
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 12:06 pm
We must negotiate a withdrawal, declare victory and get the hell out.
hamburger
 
  3  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 12:14 pm
@Advocate,
there are two threads :

a recent one : Afghanistan - a Lesson 200 Years Old

http://able2know.org/topic/125475-1

and one going back to 2006 : Afghanistan - does it still matter ?

http://able2know.org/topic/82057-1

on canadian television ( mainly TV-ONTARIO and CBC) there are still ongoing discussions about afghanistan .
it has been shown over-over-again that a military victory in afghanistan by foreign powers is next to impossible . anyone trying to win militarily has always left exhausted .

i also am curious why asian and middle-eastern countries show little concern about the goings-on in afghanistan . since they have probably a better understanding about the country and its people than any western country can possibly have , i assume that they do not feel much threatened by afghanistan .

when i think of all the lives lost on all sides of this "war" (?) and the enormous amounts of money wasted there , i can only question the sanity of the western political leaders .
..................................................................................................................
(prior to the last federal canadian election one of our neighbours came around to solicit votes for the conservative party of canada .
he is a nice neighbour - well educated - has travelled overseas after his retirement as a consultant - born in britain .
mre h told him point-blank that she could NOT vote for any party that would continue to be involved in a war in afghanistan - help : YES - war : NO) ) .
he was a bit surprised and mumbled about "them" coming over here if we don't fight "them" there .
he suddenly changed his tune : many neighbours had said the same . could he pass mrs h's opinion on to "party headquarters" ?
mrs h agreed readily and repeated what she had said .
at least canada has now stated that 2011 will be the end of canada's "mission" .
why we won't get out of that sinkhole now , i will never understand . )
.......................................................................................................................
hbg


Advocate
 
  2  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 03:57 pm
@hamburger,
"Sinkhole" is the right word. I doubt that the allies have enough troops and peace-corp types to somehow defeat the Taliban and bring a Western-style democracy to that country. Moreover, our efforts there are giving aid and comfort to the radicals in Pakistan, which country would be a truly dangerous foe.

I was very disappointed in hearing Obama say that he would greatly increase our presence in the country. He should instead be talking about a prompt withdrawal. He may soon be facing a Vietnam-like backlash from the American public.

0 Replies
 
H2O MAN
 
  0  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:50 pm


With the full support of the American public our troops will succeed in their mission.

Those that choose to turn their backs on them fail the troops, their families and the country.
George
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 07:56 pm
@H2O MAN,
The troops are capable of succeeding in most missions they are given.
If we give them the wrong mission, we have failed them.

I've had it with nation-building in the Mid-East! Hunt down the Jihadis
wherever they go (yes, even in Pakistan!), but to think we are going to
build a secular, democratic Afghanistan is madness.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:11 pm
I do not think we can nation build in Afhanistan, based on the outlying tribal areas. I do not think it can become an entirely democratic nation. What we can do is domesticate it. A time consuming effort, but how long did it take to turn the wolf into man's best friend? Plus, it is a good area for our military to keep themselves well trained, until the next big one comes along, I believe. Let us not look a gift horse in the mouth.
George
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:27 pm
@Foofie,
domesticate it?
Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:32 pm
You all DO realize that the Russians are laughing their asses off about us there, no...?

(nobody ever wins in Afghan land)
Foofie
 
  0  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:34 pm
@George,
George wrote:

domesticate it?


I believe that is the correct word to reflect a reframed goal. Domestication is doable.
George
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:37 pm
@Rockhead,
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.


"The Young British Soldier"
~Rudyard Kipling
0 Replies
 
George
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 08:41 pm
@Foofie,
Quote:
I believe that is the correct word to reflect a reframed goal.

I believe that that is the correct word to describe the training of an animal to
live with humans.
Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 09:32 pm
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

We must negotiate a withdrawal, declare victory and get the hell out.

Well, since we're fighting Al Qaeda, and they want to dominate Afghanistan again, I think it would be better to win rather than let them win.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 09:39 pm
@Brandon9000,
I disagree. There is no parallell to Vietnam in that war, but it could go on much longer and never be satisfactorily resolved. I don't like the killing of so many civilians in the strikes at suspected enemy combatants, for one thing. For another, these people are by and large unable to get to America to strike at us. It is the secretive cells of terrorists who do these things, not the ones who swarm out of the woodwork to strike at the Great Satan in the theater of the war. Our leaders have wasted American money and resources for too many years in these types of conflicts. Time to bring our boys and girls home and rebuild the military.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 09:57 pm
@George,
George wrote:

Quote:
I believe that is the correct word to reflect a reframed goal.

I believe that that is the correct word to describe the training of an animal to
live with humans.


That is definition number two in my dictionary. It also means, accustom to home life.

I used it metaphorically.

0 Replies
 
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 10:41 pm
@H2O MAN,
Wrong on both counts!

There is no reasonable way for us to defeat the Afghans, which include the Taliban.

We can best support our troops by getting them the hell out of harm's way; i.e., get them the hell out of Afghanistan.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 10:45 pm
Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 12:35 am
I have never really gotten it. That theory that's been shoved down our throats again & again by the "expert" political commentators in the media ... about how Iraq was the wrong conflict for the US & allies to be involved in, but Afghanistan was/is the right one ... (yes, I do know about Osama Bin Ladan being in Afghanistan & possibly behind the 9/11 attacks on the US, but ...). But could someone please explain the theory behind the "rightness" of military involvement in Afghanistan, because frankly, I can't see that it's ever been such a great idea. For starters, certainly not for the ordinary people of Afghanistan, who must be so sick & tired of struggling with one oppressive invasion after another ....
H2O MAN
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 06:38 am
@Advocate,

You have an incorrect understanding of the mission and this prevents you from clearly understanding the job at hand.
Diest TKO
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 08:13 am
@Rockhead,
Rockhead wrote:

You all DO realize that the Russians are laughing their asses off about us there, no...?

(nobody ever wins in Afghan land)

Slava bogu, gde moi pistol.

T
K
O
0 Replies
 
 

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