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
 
 
 
 
Addressing entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, and academics December 7 at the Carnegie India Global Technology Summit in Bengaluru, India's Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar underscored the need to harness the power of technological change for faster economic development.
 
read-more
The strangest of the several barbs hurled hurdled at Pakistan during and after the recently concluded Heart of Asia conference at Amritsar, India,  was that Pakistan is trying to change perception about the Taliban writes Monish Gulati  
 
read-more
Actually, Modi is on to a long-term experiment in India. He and the government aim to re-engineer human souls and minds as much as socio-economic realities. writes Sudip Bhattacharyya for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
This has been a mind-boggling year for Europe. First Britain’s shock European Union referendum result and the ensuing backlash against immigrants seemed to signal the rise of the right in Europe. The certainty that the right was on a steady march to power seemed confirmed by the U.S. election result and was seized upon by right-w
 
read-more
US President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia, such as it was, is an endangered species in the Trump era. Looking back, was it in essence more rhetoric than a policy to be implemented? Leaders of South-east Asia, East Asia and further afield are asking themselves this question.a
 
read-more
The Heart Of Asia conference in Amritsar called for immediate elimination of terrorism to help the war-ravaged country in its political and economic transition. Access the full text here...
 
read-more
China on Monday said that it was opposed to any breach of the Iran nuclear deal, opening up another possible avenue of friction with the United States once President-elect Donald Trump enters the White House.  
 
read-more
It is accepted conventional wisdom the world over, ever since well-known military theorist, Carl Von Clausewitz, first articulated the aphorism in the late 18th century that “war is a continuation of politics by other means”.  
 
read-more
Column-image

An aching sense of love, loss and yearning permeate this work of fiction which, however, reads like a personal narrative set in an intensely disruptive period of Indian history, and adds to the genre of partition literature, writes Ni...

 
Column-image

This is a path-breaking work on India's foreign policy since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in May 2014 and surprised everyone by taking virtual charge of the external affairs portfolio. A man who had been denied visa by some count...

 
Column-image

The pattern of Chinese actions on the global stage demonstrates that it lives by the credo of might is right, a potent tool in its armoury for the pursuit of aggressive designs, writes Sudip Talukdar for South Asia Monitor....

 
Column-image

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others of their ilk not only destabilise Pakistan and make it one of the world's most dangerous places but also threaten neighbouring Afghanistan and India -- and even far...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive