New Afghan Strategy

October 26, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

In the past weeks, the additional troops request from the U.S. Commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the 10,000 to 80,000 range and then reportedly cut back to the median 40,000 troop level is attention worthy due to the flurry of comments, rhetoric and insinuations from the quarters responsible for the status quo.

The U.S. troops presence including the recently approved contingency expected to arrive in December 2009 stands at 68,000 along with the participation of 28 nations in the form of NATO alliance further boosting the military representation in one nation – Afghanistan, to deal with the combined insurgency from the Afghan Talibans and the Al-Qaida in the northern regions.

Interestingly, the argument is steered towards the strategy to win the war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the relevant questions raised by the concerned citizens and the representatives in the Congress regarding the military role, operational term and the costs are evaded through partisan politics and the suppression of facts.

The U.S. led war against Afghanistan began in October 2001 under the Bush-Cheney administration. It has been more than eight years for the U.S. and NATO occupancy in that region with substantial troops surge up until now. Although, the initial military attack on the ground enhanced with the deployment of sophisticated artilleries and technological devices presumably yielded the desired outcome i.e. the temporary expulsion of Talibans from the regional shelters, it also produced massive casualties on all sides with the Afghan civilians enduring the sizeable proportion.

As a result, the opposition to the foreign troops occupation is widespread in Afghanistan and around the world particularly with the U.S./NATO aggressive pursuit of the militants in the absence of specificity such as the occupancy duration, clear objectives and success formulas inflicting considerable damages to the civilian existence rather than containing the pervasive crisis.

In fact, the high command’s inefficiency in the implementation of the traditional military policy to win at all costs subsequently contributed to the Taliban re-emergence facilitating easy recruitment of local and foreign militants as the formidable insurgents in the prolonged military intervention.

Like stated earlier in the blogpost titled “Afghan War, the Additional Troops Request and the Election Analysis,” dated September 29, 2009 published under International Politics on this website ,

The cost-benefit ratio in the invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq neither accurately evaluated nor presented to the American public financing the two wars since 2001. Amidst intense propaganda and misinformation, the proponents of the indefinite military aggression continue to demand for the increase in troops supply against the will of the local population in Afghanistan and the United States, despite the strategic failures of the overwhelming military engagement.

Again, the scenario is similar to the various economic stimulus packages and the controversial bailouts in trillions of dollars passed since 2008 with a significant portion held in reserve, instead of the entire investments in the allocated areas to derive the comprehensive economic impact. It’s been followed by a strong recommendation for additional stimulus funds prior to achieving the targeted goals.

The interests payable on the bailout borrowings is greater than the interest or dividends earned from the bailout beneficiaries, the financial institutions. Further, the bailout recipients are yet to comply with the legislative stipulations in terms of stimulating the economy through liquidity flow, affordable financial charges specifically the credit card interest rates worsened to an abominable APR 29.99% in defiance of the stimulus requirement.

However, there is still a distinction between the vast troops deployment and an isolated stimulus investment of $787 billion approved earlier this year with the latter providing the gradual economic revival and salvation of the global economic collapse, in spite of the meager investment of the legislated amount.

The Pentagon has not considered the importance of checks and balances in the ethical and economic aspects in their haphazard missions in Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention the numerous U.S. military bases in various parts of the world.

Ironically, the myopic view of the ‘Nay’ Sayers in the contentious health care reform against the disproportionate defense budget attributing to the enlarged national deficit is fanning the fire to the cauldron.

The ‘so-called’ fiscal conservatives from both sides of the political aisles, appear to be comfortable with the unaccounted military spending yielding economic losses and human fatalities while remaining vehemently opposed to the costs and life saving health care legislation.

With respect to the commotion on the military expansion in Afghanistan, the U.S. defense should justify the urgency on the troops dispense of the great magnitude (current 68,000 + possible 40,000 to 80,000), considering the enormous U.S./NATO consolidated military existence and the negative ramifications overriding the opportunities to prevail in the ‘apparent’ war on terror.

The factions favoring the military industrial complex demand are uninhibited in their criticisms of the deliberations sought in the life and death matter and the self-proclamation as the savior of the young men and women in harm’s way when their proposal could precisely escalate the death toll.

In the backdrop of severe local oppositions, economic liabilities, irreplaceable loss of human lives, political instability awaiting reconciliation on Afghan governance, the unrealistic troop requisition from the highest military command confirms the protracted war on terror waged for militaristic purpose than the humanitarian cause.

Those who argue on the national security basis must realize that terrorism cannot be eliminated unless and until the fundamental issues such as freedom, basic human rights, economic and social development are addressed through viable and credible political establishments in the regions infiltrated by the terror networks and organizations.

Whenever there is a conspicuous political fragmentation, the society is vulnerable to the military coups like in Pakistan and Latin America or a chosen destination for the anti-progress radical elements viz. the Al-Qaida and the Taliban forces.

Therefore, it is imperative for the political contenders in Afghanistan to prioritize the national interest and security over their personal aspirations by forming a coalition government to enforce the desperately needed law and order in the state.

It’s extremely disappointing to witness the incumbent President Hamid Karzai’s unrepentant conduct in light of the recent fraudulent election mired with violence, fictitious ballots…ignored for the sake of retaining power that has essentially weakened Afghanistan and emboldened the Taliban insurgency threatening to disrupt the democratic electoral process once again.

The Afghan and the worldwide opinion of the Karzai administration in the past five years is conclusively one that has miserably failed to restore normalcy leave alone democracy that is perceived to be a tall order in the overtly corrupt bureaucracy.

Hence, it is appropriate for the President Hamid Karzai to step down gracefully and acknowledge the reality at home by allowing his opponent DR. Abdullah Abdullah to assume office as the 13th President of Afghanistan in the immediate future as the runoff election is unlikely to deliver any positive solutions.

If the religious belief among the two political contenders are intact then it is for them to know that “Man proposes and God disposes,” otherwise “Wahi Hoga Jo Manzoorén Khudah Hoga.”

Finally, the Afghan war without an exit strategy is a replica of the Iraq war experiencing the relentless insurgency through explosions and suicide bombings irrespective of the definitive U.S. timeline for troop withdrawal. The military should be preparing for the troop contraction and not a permanent occupation in Afghanistan as detailed in the cited reports on the blogpost mentioned above. If the intention is to occupy under the pretext of the war on terror, then the United States agenda is no different from the former Soviet rule forced out with the 120,000 troops on land.

Violence only begets violence and war is the classic example that the end does not justify the means.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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