America’s self-inflicted dilemma
America is an imperialist power and it will continue pursuing its goals, whether the Democrats or the Republicans form the government.
Against this backdrop, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, basking in the glow of boost in his recent Gallup rating, vowed to use the American power to shape history. He maintained that he would not follow Obama’s plan to withdraw the troops from Afghanistan.
Romney, however, should have realised that USA’s attitude and misjudgements in the past have greatly contributed to increase anti-American sentiments throughout the world. In September 2002, for instance, George Frost Kennan, a US diplomat, political scientist and historian, then 98, gave an interview to The Hill, just after the National Security Council released President Bush’s new doctrine. He said: “Here was a great mistake in principle.......Anyone who has studied history knows that you might start a war with certain things in your mind, but you end up fighting for things never thought of before.” Launching a second war with Iraq “bears no relation to the first war against terrorism,” he remarked.
Today, the American policymakers must be ruing in their hearts for being so disrespectable to the objective ground realities since their occupation of Afghanistan, which has become its Achilles’ heel for a respectable endgame there. As the ousted Taliban were predominantly Pashtun, the occupiers arrogantly kept out the whole of Pashtun community as an outcast from the power dispensation, which they put under the Afghan minorities - principally Tajiks’ control - with President Hamid Karzai sitting at the head as a lame duck and mere showpiece. For this monumental stupidity, they are now in a pickle with their peace foray with the Taliban turning into an intractable dilemma for them. Meanwhile, the Afghan minorities, pampered and strengthened by the US and Nato, have also threatened to take up the gun again if the Taliban were brought into the power structure. They had taken exception to the opening of Taliban’s political office in Qatar, insisting that any peace talks’ venue has to be within Afghanistan, not outside!
As a matter of fact, the US has been making mistakes since day one. After occupying Afghanistan, the US-Nato forces stayed in Kabul for years. It was only after the tide of insurgency began touching new heights that they spread out to the south and the east.
At the same time, the international community did not deliver on its promises to the post-Taliban Afghanistan. The UN failed to disarm militias and the country remained awash with illegal weapons. The scrappy police the Germans had raised was ineffective, and the judiciary the Italians had cobbled up was notorious for corruption. And the British, who had undertaken to rid the country of poppy and drugs, had been a complete failure. The UN drugs watchdog has more than once said that the country has broken its own record in opium production during the last couple of years. President Karzai’s American backers have started blaming him that he had been less assertive in dealing with the warlords having a finger in the drug pie.
Another blunder by the occupiers and, of course, President Karzai was that majority Pashtuns were kept out of the administration. Pashtuns, in general, had been expressing concern that they were not adequately represented, even in the previous Cabinet. They had also recruited Tajiks, Uzbeks and other non-Pashtuns in Afghan police and army, because the Northern Alliance had helped them in overthrowing the Taliban in 2001, following the September 11 attacks on the US. President Karzai, himself an ethnic Pashtun, should have held serious talks to bring majority Pashtuns on board. Indeed, he was in a better position to negotiate with the moderate Taliban to integrate them into the system, but he could not convince the US and its allies that military option is not the viable option to achieve positive results.
Nevertheless, Pakistan has always helped Afghanistan in the past, whether it was the Cold War; accommodation of millions of refugees; or taking the terrorists head on. Had Pakistan not arrested al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders and demolished their strength, the US-Nato forces would have suffered unprecedented losses.