Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Pretty Accurate Synopsis of the War in Afghanistan

I got this commentary from the Jami'at al-Ulama newsletter from Transvaal in South Africa, which I had the good fortune to visit recently...

It pretty much accurately summarizes the situation in Afghanistan.

This just go to emphasize the need to stay away from the most well known of classic blunders:

Never start a land war in Asia.

Jamiatul Ulama

Online Newsletter

Vol.: 4 No.: 42

09 Dhu al-Qa'dah 1430 / 28 October 2009

Read the full Newsletter from your browser:

Weekly Comment

Afghanistan: An Exit Strategy for a Super Power
What was deemed far-fetched a year ago is a likely prospect in Afghanistan. The United States will have to cut a deal with the Taliban.

Regardless of the posturing and express support of NATO for the US, it is clear that the continuation of the war is going to be a hard-sell for Barack Obama.

With a toll of 55 killed, October has turned out to be deadliest month for the US troops. At such a rate, can the US stay the course? In any case, which ‘course’ has the US charted and how can it sustain it?

As it stands, combined US-NATO troops are reported to outnumber Taliban fighters on a ratio of 12:1. Will additional troops make any difference? It is no wonder that Obama has been averse to committing more troops as General Stanley McChrystal, has been pleading for.

What is increasingly evident is that the US has been stretched thin in as far as manpower is concerned.

Afghanistan is also proving to be a financial black hole for the US treasury. An estimated U$1m is required to keep one soldier in Afghanistan per annum. Add to that the Baghdad bill then you have a real mess to the fiscus.

As Afghanistan unravels, Matthew Hoh, a senior American diplomat in Afghanistan has become the first US official to resign in protest of the war he says is only being perpetuated by the occupation and ‘international support for a corrupt, unpopular government’.

Unsavoury stories of the occupation keep coming too. Only today, the New York Times has revealed that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the embattled Afghan president and a suspected drug trafficker, has been on the CIA payroll for most of the past eight years.

About two weeks ago, it was the story of Italian soldiers who ‘paid protection money to prevent attacks on their troops.’

French troops who took control of the Sarobi district from the Italians back in August 2008, suffered ten fatalities due to being unaware of the 'Sicilian type of homage’ they had to give to the locals to secure protection.

The government itself is also faltering after a sham election which is now heading into a staged face-saving run-off between Hamid Karzai and Abdallah Abdallah after the former had won with a ‘boosted’ margin in the first round, thanks to stuffing of ballot boxes!

It is clear that no conventional warfare will win it in Afghanistan. No matter how much more resources the US is going to commit to stabilize Afghanistan, a genuine peace dividend will prove elusive.

White House will have to accept the fact and make peace with the Taliban. It should not be through bribing of ‘moderate’ warlords to be made viceroys without the consent of the masses. An all-inclusive process of national-building is imperative.

Washington would be better place for Obama with a carefully executed consensus-building initiative that respects the people of Afghanistan as capable of making choices of how to run their affairs as a sovereign.

Regardless, a consensus-building exercise will not be an easy way out. However, it would prove more durable at a much cheaper price than to fight a war without end.

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