First published on Counterfire
The latest NATO debacle over Afghanistan takes place against the whole background of brute military failure, proving how intractable the crisis really is.
The national security adviser of the world’s greatest superpower is a “clown,” its vice-president a nobody and its president “uncomfortable and intimidated.” With those words the officers around General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan, engulfed America in a storm as damaging to its war effort as any Taliban raid.
The recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine with General McChrystal and his subsequent sacking only demonstrate the disarray of the US’s Afghan policy. Indeed the implementation of the Obama policy was always doomed to fail. This latest debacle takes place against the whole background of brute military failure, proving how intractable the crisis really is. According to NATO, June has been the worse month for international forces since 2001. The 91st soldier was killed on Sunday and 311 young British soldiers have already died as a result of the lies of Bush, Blair, Obama, Brown and now David Cameron.
Cameron believes that Afghanistan is the source of terrorism and as such, Britain should stay for another five years, killing more soldiers and innocent Afghans. Earlier this week the Afghan President met with Sirajudin Haqqani of the Haqqani Group, who is believed to be the strongest man of the Afghan Taliban and who also controls the Pakistani Taliban in Waziristan, with the help of Pakistan’s Army Chief and the ISI Chief. The aim of the meeting was to discuss peace, reconciliation and also safe passage for American and NATO forces from Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai has distanced himself from the British and Americans and does not trust them as partners in peace. He openly talks to the Taliban and other resistance groups to strike deals, because he does not believe that the US is willing to do what it takes to defeat the Taliban.
The US and its allies are actively looking for an exit strategy. But this search is fraught with difficulties, for the following reasons. Firstly, the imperial powers would have to explain to their citizens that their power and might are intact and that they cannot be beaten by a bunch of tribesmen. The problem is, the exit itself, unless plausibly linked to political and military progress, would prove the opposite.
Secondly, withdrawing “empty-handed” would mean having to explain the deaths of thousands of soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan and also the financial losses in Afghanistan. At present the Taliban and other resistance groups have a presence in more than 80 percent of Afghanistan. International forces are not even able to control southern Afghanistan. Out of 34 provinces and more than 360 districts, only eight towns are relatively safe in the whole of the country.
The central contradiction is that while they talk about exiting—because all the evidence points to the failure of NATO in Afghanistan—they are planning escalation.
What have NATO and other illegal occupiers achieved so far in Afghanistan since 2001? Have they killed Osama, Mullah Omar and others? Look at the state of the reconstruction effort, hospitals, schools and other development projects for ordinary Afghans. If the West brought democracy, prosperity, jobs and employment to the Afghans I am sure the Afghans would have hugged them and kissed them for helping to rebuild their lives.
Instead they bombed ordinary and helpless people and turned them into enemies. There was never any respect for their culture, religion and way of life; they have been driven out of their houses. NATO then expects them to welcome them in their country.
It is no longer a fight between the West and the Taliban and other resistance groups. The fight has shifted to the national level, where now almost 80 percent of the population want the US and NATO out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.
It is no longer a Taliban struggle but has become almost similar to the Russian occupation, where nearly every Afghan sees you as their enemy. The best example of this is the Kandahar operation which was planned to take place this month, but now seems to be in shambles as the Afghan President and most importantly the people of Kandahar do not want it to happen.
According to a US army survey, more than 86 percent of people are opposed to the plan and almost 80 percent think that the Taliban are their brothers. People do not want a repeat of the Marjah operation in Kandahar, where people were driven from their homes and Taliban not defeated.
The only option which is open to the West is to negotiate with the enemy and save face in an honorable exit. The British Army Chief openly supports talks with the enemy, after killing more than 80,000 innocent Afghans and also 311 British soldiers. General Richards said we must negotiate with the Taliban and other groups in Afghanistan: “From my own, and this is a purely private view, I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be looking at that sort of thing pretty soon.” The time for this exit has not only arrived, it is overdue.
Mohammed Asif is President of the Scottish Afghan Society