How to win the Afghan war

People's Review - - NEWS - BY RAZE

WHEN asked about the US Afghan strat­egy in July, Trump told re­porters: “…. I want to find out why we've been there for 17 years, how it's go­ing, and what we should do in terms of ad­di­tional ideas”. Here are a dozen ex­pla­na­tions for the present chaos in Afghanistan: A vague end- state of the war ef­fort that could now in­clude ‘ex­ploita­tion' of Afghan min­eral wealth ; lack of a vi­able po­lit­i­cal strat­egy to ben­e­fit from ear­lier mil­i­tary gains; a neb­u­lous ‘don't lose', present mil­i­tary strat­egy ; lit­tle pub­lic support for pro­tracted pres­ence of for­eign troops, who are now per­ceived as oc­cu­piers, as against lib­er­a­tors, since the ob­tain­ing con­di­tions are worse than what they were be­fore the start of con­flict; re­fusal by the Afghan gov­ern­ment to rec­og­nize the bor­der with Pak­istan, due to which the same can­not be ef­fec­tively sealed, man­aged or surveilled, to curb cross bor­der move­ment of ter­ror­ists ; US fail­ure to openly and un­equiv­o­cally support Pak­istani ef­forts to man­age its bor­ders with Afghanistan; low morale and poor mo­ti­va­tion of the Afghan forces due to heavy ca­su­al­ties and their lop­sided eth­nic com­po­si­tion; per­ceiv­ing all Pash­tuns as Tal­iban or their sup­port­ers and deny­ing them pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the gov­ern­ment; in­ter­nal frac­tures and en­demic cor­rup­tion within the Afghan gov­ern­ment ; donor fa­tigue; the un­ob­structed use of Afghan soil by In­dia for its proxy war against Pak­istan and fi­nally, re­ly­ing more on the use of con­ven­tional forces in asym­met­ric war­fare. Ig­nor­ing the above re­al­i­ties, the var­i­ous quasi –op­tions that seems to have been on Trumps' ta­ble, on the sub­ject, in­clude main­tain­ing the sta­tus –quo, in­cre­men­tal force aug­men­ta­tion and lift­ing re­stric­tions on force mis­sions, en­hanc­ing the use of drones, blam­ing Pak­istan for the stale­mate in Afghanistan, and im­pos­ing ‘diplo­matic, mil­i­tary and eco­nomic costs' on it. The co­er­cive and puni­tive mea­sures may in­clude cut­ting off the Coali­tion Support Fund and other aid, ex­tend­ing the drone at­tacks to the set­tled ar­eas of Pak­istan and end­ing Pak­istan's sta­tus as the so called, non NATO ally. While Pak­istan must support ev­ery ef­fort that can end the war in Afghanistan, it can­not be in­tim­i­dated to do any more than what it has al­ready done. The fact is that this has also been Pak­istan's long­est war, wherein, its losses in blood and trea­sure sur­pass the com­bined cost of its many wars with In­dia and those suf­fered by US, NATO and Afghanistan. Thus, any harsh mea­sures against Pak­istan will not ex­pe­dite the end of the Afghan con­flict. Con­trar­ily, these will se­verely strain the al­ready frag­ile Pak-US re­la­tions. They will also pro­vide Pak­istan the ca­sus belli for a rene­go­ti­a­tion of the terms of its support to the US for uti­liz­ing Pak­istani ground, air and sea lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tions to Afghanistan, with­draw­ing support to the regime in Kabul, shoot­ing down hos­tile drones and re­duc­ing US foot­print in the coun­try. The en­su­ing at­mos­phere will be a recipe for dis­as­ter, as it will ben­e­fit only the ter­ror­ists. So what else can be done to ‘win' the war in Afghanistan, which many US com­man­ders have pri­vately ad­mit­ted as im­pos­si­ble? Any so-called vic­tory by the US would re­quire a per­ma­nent oc­cu­pa­tion of Afghanistan, some­thing which nei­ther the US nor Afghan vot­ers will en­dorse. But the US must pre­serve what has been achieved and pro­tect it­self from the scourge of ter­ror­ists in the fu­ture. As in the past, de­ploy­ing more soldiers, drop­ping big­ger bombs and cen­sur­ing oth­ers will not work. To win this war, Trump must con­sider the fol­low­ing twelve ac­tions: First; promptly ad­dress the root causes of fail­ure, eluded ear­lier, to help shape the mi­lieu for find­ing a truly eq­ui­table so­lu­tion to em­power the Afghans to gov­ern them­selves. By now, Trump should have learnt that democ­ra­cies, in­clud­ing the one in Afghanistan are built on the ‘free' will of the peo­ple. He must know that Hobbe­sian ap­proaches didn't suc­ceed in Afghanistan even when it was a monarchy, so re­liance on pub­lic support to gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions is even more im­por­tant in the present, con­trolled democracy. Sec­ond; ap­point a neu­tral in­ter­na­tional fa­cil­i­ta­tor of abun­dant stature, who can broach pos­si­ble op­tions for restora­tion of peace, with­out grossly un­der­min­ing the power con­tender's di­ver­gent po­si­tions. It's a task sim­i­lar to bro­ker­ing the Geneva Ac­cords in the 80's that led to the Soviet de­par­ture from Afghanistan. Third; out­line un­am­bigu­ous con­di­tions for all agree­ments which must be unan­i­mously backed by the OIC and man­dated by the UNSC or vice versa. Fourth; hold the Afghan rulers ac­count­able for cor­rup­tion, dis­unity and fail­ing to own, lead and drive the po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment with their op­po­nents so far. Fifth; agree to hold fresh elec­tions, that are mon­i­tored by neu­tral ob­servers and which en­sures the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all el­e­ments of the Afghan polity. Sixth; ap­point an in­terim gov­ern­ment to re­vise the cur­rent Afghan con­sti­tu­tion to the sat­is­fac­tion of all stake hold­ers. Seventh; Form a new gov­ern­ment, in ac­cor­dance with the re­vised con­sti­tu­tion. Eighth; en­sure that many more Pash­tuns, who have ruled the coun­try for 300 years, are part of sys­tem. Ninth; As the Tal­iban form only 0.04 per­cent of the 16 mil­lion Pash­tun pop­u­la­tion of Afghanistan, they must be of­fered rep­re­sen­ta­tion in that pro­por­tion only, while those who refuse to ac­cept the new or­der must be po­lit­i­cally os­tra­cized. Tenth; part­ner with Pak­istan in the new dis­pen­sa­tion, en­hance its counter ter­ror­ism ca­pac­ity and aug­ment its bor­der man­age­ment ef­forts. Eleventh; agree to de­ploy a 50,000 strong UN peace en­force­ment con­tin­gent to Afghanistan to pro­vide sta­bil­ity to the new regime for 3 years. Fi­nally; an­nounce with­drawal of NATO and US forces from Afghanistan. This will be a slow, grad­ual process, but the only one to promise a gen­uine vic­tory in Afghan war.

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