A war gone awry!
US President Barack Obama is pledging not to rush to the drawdown in Afghanistan, and wants to pull out from there in a responsible way. Nevertheless, the ground realities present a gloomy picture. On Sunday, explosions and gunfire rocked the Afghan capital, as suicide bombers struck across Afghanistan in coordinated attacks claimed by Taliban insurgents as the start of a spring offensive. The US, British, German and Japanese embassies compounds came under fire as militants attacked the city's diplomatic enclave and tried to storm the Parliament.
This knocks the bottom out of their pretense of having raised formidable Afghan forces, and also establishes conclusively that they have failed to achieve any of their targets. The attacks will raise fears over the precarious security situation in Afghanistan as NATO prepares to withdraw its 130,000 troops by the end of 2014 and hand over the responsibility for the security to Afghan forces.
From the statements from State Department, Pentagon and the CIA, it appears that they are not on the same page, or there is lack of coordination between them. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the attacks were not planned in Pakistan. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that they did not have any intelligence yet on whether the Kabul attack was planned in Pakistan. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta did not name Pakistan yet he stated that Haqqani group exists on both sides of the border. As expected, the CIA raised the finger of accusation towards Pakistan for the attacks in Kabul. It is, indeed, failure of NATO forces, Afghan forces and Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, as 20 odd insurgents could enter their most sensitive and most protected areas in Kabul. To cover up their failure, it is possible that the CIA would pick up three to four suspects and force them to give confessional statement involving the ISI.
Saner elements have been warning from the day one that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, and instead of killing people the United States should allow dialogue to succeed in finding a durable solution. But the trigger-happy and inebriated super power did not pay heed to such warnings. This is despite the fact that the British colonialists in the last millennium, and erstwhile super power Soviet Union in late 1970s had learnt the same lesson that Afghans never compromise on their independence and sovereignty. But Americans together with Britain and some of their other cohorts are bent upon repeating the same mistakes. They have brutally bombed Afghanistan and killed thousands of innocent people, including women and children. As the great majority of Afghan people are united in their struggle to get rid of foreign invaders, the prospects of an honourable exit of occupiers from Afghanistan look bleak.
Americans seem to be wary of the protracted war. A latest opinion poll tells over 60 per cent of American people consider the Afghan war not worth the costs. And some 54 per cent of them want their troops back home quickly, much earlier than the 2014 deadline. Last month, the Economist in its report on Afghanistan stated: "Western ambitions in Afghanistan have shrunk to a level so modest that they hardly seem commensurate with the investment of blood and treasure".
Watching all this closely are the Taliban. They are aware of the intentions of Western donors to scale back a proposed 352,000-strong Afghan security force, which is supposed to ensure the survival of the Kabul regime after 2014. The question is who will foot the bill to sustain such a large army. The question also is that when US and NATO forces, Afghan forces and Afghan police could not rein in the Taliban, how Afghan forces alone would establish the writ of the state.
Afghans have always guarded their independence too jealously, and throughout its recorded history no power could subjugate them except for a brief period as in case of British or later Soviet occupation. The result of three Anglo-Afghan wars was either defeat of the British Empire or at the most what it called a tactical victory. In 1970s, former Soviet Union had occupied Afghanistan on the pretext that Afghan government led by President Taraki had requested to send two battalions for his personal security because he smelled conspiracy from Hafizullah Amin who was suspected of being an American agent. Anyhow, Soviet army had to face stiff resistance by Afghans, and the US on finding an opportunity to make Afghanistan Soviet Union's ?Vietnam' tried to channelize the Afghans' energies and their passion for jihad. Using international media, jihadis from all over the world, especially from Arab countries, were inspired, motivated and funded by the US. Pakistan was indeed the frontline state against Communism.
If history is any guide, nobody should make long-term plans to stay in Afghanistan. If the US is looking for an honourable exit, it should facilitate the Northern Alliance and Pakhtuns to agree on a working relationship to avoid civil war. Syndicated columnist George Will in one of his columns quoted Military historian Max Hastings who said: "Kabul controls only about a third of the country - control is an elastic concept - and Afghans may prove no more viable than were Vietnamese, the Saigon regime". It is too well known that Afghanistan never had a strong central government; it does not have industry to provide jobs to the unemployed. Secondly, its entire economy is based on illegal production of poppy, which the US and NATO forces have failed to stop.
To make it worse, corruption has eaten into the vitals of the state organs. There is a general perception in America and elsewhere that President Karzai has failed to rein in the warlords, drug producers and drug-traffickers.
Coming back to President Barack Obama's vow in 2009 that America would start withdrawing its forces from July 2011, many considered it as a political statement meant to convey an impression to Americans that with the additional troops, insurgency would be controlled. But NATO countries are demoralized that after 10 years of occupation and using all types of arsenal at their disposal they could not break the will of Afghan people. And they know that history is not on their side. Dutch completed the mission and went; Germany, Australia, Denmark and few others wish to withdraw as soon as possible.
The moot question is that after their withdrawal who will fill the vacuum? According to a report carried by the ?The Independent', Moscow is engaged in training the Afghan army and counter-narcotics troops and has agreed in principle to supply NATO with several dozen helicopters for use in Afghanistan. But who stands to gain ultimately? Russia, and not America.