Monday, February 25, 2008

Why NATO should get out of Afghanistan

Internationally syndicated columnist Jonathan Power argues that the US/NATO war in Afghanistan has little chance of success:

The only thing that could possibly subdue [Afghan insurgents] would be a massive number of NATO boots on the ground, prepared to engage in close-up fighting, but to find numbers of this order would mean switching the full force of America’s military might from Iraq to Afghanistan and persuading America’s allies to beef up their contributions to levels that would triple or quadruple present deployments. ...

A few thousand more troops, a better coordinated aid program, an imposed Western czar, a beefed-up local police force — none of these will work as long as Afghanistan has its poppies and mountains and corruption continues to seep into almost every pore of society. If this were doable it would have been done by now.

The stakes, we all know, are high because the Taleban with their tribal network spanning across a ridiculously placed border dividing Afghanistan and Pakistan give refuge to Al-Qaeda. Getting rid of Al-Qaeda must be a priority on the world’s common agenda. But this is not the way to do it. And economically and socially developing Afghanistan can only be done when the populace face down their local persecutors and oppressors and demand it.

So how to deal with Al-Qaeda? The mistakes date from the immediate reaction to 9/11. Afghanistan should never have been bombed. That immediately marked America and Britain as the enemy in the minds of a good proportion of the Afghans.

But that mistake was part of a larger mistake — the determination to go to war with modern military means against Al-Qaeda — a grouping of a few hundred at that time — even if it meant putting at mortal risk the populations of whole countries, Afghanistan, Iraq and, if Barack Obama continues his threat, perhaps Pakistan. ...

It is probably still not too late to change tactics 180 degrees, although the job will be much harder than it would have been six years ago. Who has the courage to stand up and say this, or are European and Canadian leaders just going to scuttle away from the mess one by one, leaving the Americans to stew in their juice? (link)
A while back, syndicated columnist Gwynne Dyer wrote on the Afghan war (see blog entry here.). His take was similar to Power's, yet he predicted that the Taliban would not return to power and that there would not be a civil war:
... after the foreigners are gone, the Afghans will make the traditional inter-ethnic deals and something like peace will return. ...

Will the Taliban come back to power? No, only to a share of power, and only to the extent that they can still command the loyalty of the Pashtuns once it is no longer a question of resistance to foreigners. ... (link to Dyer piece)

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