FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Get out of Afghanistan
Posted:Jan 2, 2016
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Brian Cooney
 
On May 1, 2012, President Obama announced that "we can see the light of a new day on the horizon" for Afghanistan. He promised that "by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country." Since then, however, the U.S.-supported Kabul regime has been losing ground to the Taliban, al Qaeda and to newly arrived ISIS forces. As the Washington Post reports : "According to Western and Afghan officials, the Taliban now [12/27/15] holds more territory than in any year since 2001."
 
Last September 28th a small Taliban contingent of 500 overran and held for 15 days the important city of Kunduz after several thousand government soldiers fled. On October 3rd we were given a vivid display of American airpower 'helping' Afghan ground forces retake the city. An AC-130 gunship severely damaged a Kunduz hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) killing 30 civilians.
 
Recognizing that Afghanistan's "new day" had not yet dawned, Obama announced on Oct. 15, 2015 that instead of a nearly complete withdrawal 9,800 American troops will remain in place through most of 2016. This puts the U.S. on a slippery slope that could quickly become steeper.
 
Will 9,800 troops accomplish more than the 38,000 that were there in early 2014, or the 101,000 at the peak of Obama's surge in June of 2011? If (as seems likely) the Taliban and other jihadist forces continue to gain ground, how can Obama say "no" to further increases in U.S. forces? What if ISIS captures some of these troops and videotapes their beheading?
 
The Obama administration's current story is that there is now a more competent government in Kabul, one that deserves our support. It is headed by President Ashraf Ghani, who succeeded the corrupt and uncooperative Hamid Karzai on Sept. 29, 2014. Yet the glaring incompetence of the Ghani regime was obvious in Kunduz, and government corruption is still pervasive.
 
The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim explains why ordinary Afghans distrust their government and even prefer the Taliban: "Imagine that you are an Afghan civilian generally opposed to the extremism of the Taliban. Yet for nearly everything you need to do -- travel to and from work, transport merchandise, enroll in school, open a business -- you get shaken down by the Kabul government, often by somebody of a different ethnicity."
 
The New York Times reported that the quick collapse of Kunduz was preceded by growing Taliban dominance of the surrounding countryside where residents came to hate the Kabul government: "Militias and Afghan Local Police forces installed by the American Special Forces were largely unaccountable. They extorted protection money from farmers, and committed rapes and robberies. But because they had guns and the backing of local strongmen close to the government, people's complaints were ignored."
 
Although the U.S. has spent over $8 billion trying to combat opium poppy cultivation, Afghanistan today accounts for 90% of illicit opium production. Ironically, the Taliban had successfully banned opium production just before the invasion. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in an October 2014 letter to the heads of the Departments of Defense, State and Justice that "The narcotics trade poisons the Afghan financial sector and undermines the Afghan state's legitimacy by stoking corruption, sustaining criminal networks, and providing significant financial support to the Taliban and other insurgent groups."
 
SIGAR reports that U.S. reconstruction programs in Afghanistan totaled "$110 billion, after adjusting for inflation, [which] exceeds the value of the entire Marshall Plan effort to rebuild Western Europe after World War II." According to an investigative report by Pro Publica, "In just six years," SIGAR "has tallied at least $17 billion in questionable spending. This includes $3.6 billion in outright waste."
 
Included in the latter category is the Pentagon's $486 million purchase in 2008 of 20 refurbished cargo planes for the Afghan Air Force. The planes were in such poor condition that they could not be flown. Sixteen of them were later sold as scrap metal for $32,000. The strategic incompetence of the U.S. government in Afghanistan was matched by financial and managerial bungling.
 
On October 15th, President Obama gave this rationale for extending American troop deployments in Afghanistan: "As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again." The Taliban should know that "the only real way to achieve the full drawdown of U.S. and foreign troops from Afghanistan is through a lasting political settlement with the Afghan government."
 
Why is it a vital American interest that the Taliban and other Jihadists reach a "lasting political settlement" with the corrupt and incompetent Kabul regime? How likely is that ever to happen? What sort of settlement with such parties could guarantee that no terrorist would ever find safe haven there again? Obama's rationale is dishonest nonsense.
 
Here is a long overdue question: was there ever a good reason for the invasion, let alone for a 14-year war in Afghanistan?
 
Of the nineteen airline hijackers who killed 2,996 people on Sept. 11, 2011, 15 were Saudi Arabians, two were from the United Arab Emirates, and one each from Lebanon and Egypt. Their ringleader was Egyptian Mohammed Atta, who piloted one of the planes hitting the World Trade Center.
 
The idea of hijacking and crashing airliners originated with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), a Kuwaiti of Pakistani extraction. KSM sold his plan to Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi Arabian based in Afghanistan. But much of the detailed planning for 9/11 was done by Atta and other middle-class self-radicalized students living in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany.
 
Oped News, January 2, 2016
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be visiting India between 7th and 10th of April and plethoras of agreements are likely to be signed then. Among the various agreements, the two countries will be signing the defence cooperation agreement which  has been getting the most attention. 
 
read-more
The Congress needs to come up with a more aspirational narrative than that of the BJP. The party doesn’t lack talent, but its leadership clearly lacks hunger and enthusiasm required for winning elections, writes Tridivesh Singh Maini for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
 If the civil war in Syria continues, it will be impossible to control in the future. To stop the massive humanitarian destruction, necessary steps need to be taken immediately, writes Mohammad Kawsar Ahammed for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre invites you to a lecture in the Changing Asia Series by by Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India on Health And Development: India Must Bridge The Disconnect Chair: C Uday Bhaskar, Director, Soci...
 
read-more
spotlight image 'Covert military actions or surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan have limited utility that won't change the mind of the Pakistan Army or the ISI  which sponsor cross-border terrorism
 
read-more
In Dutch politics, alliances are imperative to construct an administration. The post-election government formation is, therefore, a slightly time-consuming process. In due course, a coalition led by the incumbent Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, will surface.  
 
read-more
Japan is a special country in several ways. For centuries, it remained isolated and disconnected with the outside world. But once it opened itself up to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 by the use of force by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry of the United States Navy, Japan has never looked back. Japan is a spe
 
read-more
Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and earlier under the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdallah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia has rolled out a series of women-friendly initiatives.  Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the
 
read-more
The attacks in London on Wednesday are grim reminders of not just the growing menace of terrorism but also of the urgent need for the global community to join hands in combating it. 
 
read-more
Column-image

India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
Column-image

The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
Column-image

What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
Column-image

What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
Column-image

Some South African generals, allied with the British forces, sought segregation from the enlisted men, all blacks, after being taken prisoners of war. The surprised German commander told them firmly that they would have to share the same quarte...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive