AF-PAK STRATEGY Alive and Kicking
After having ‘killed’ Osama bin Laden, America is looking for a permanent military presence in Afghanistan.
Let’s get it straight at the very outset. What America still calls its war on terror (WoT) was actually a fight between al-Qaeda headed by Osama bin Laden and the United States. The casus belli was U.S. presence on Arab soil, particularly Saudi Arabia, and its blind support for Israel despite the latter’s excesses against the Palestinian people. America made the issue global by playing up bin Laden as a threat to its European allies as well and corralled them into a coalition against al-Qaeda.
In this way America contrived to convert its war with al-Qaeda into a clash of civilizations, creating deep perception in Muslim minds globally that it is a crusade in which, like in the olden days, the Christians are targeting Muslims.
Therefore, even though American officials and statesmen often admit that al-Qaeda has been dismantled, disrupted and defeated in Afghanistan, as promised by President Obama and bin Laden has been killed, yet, the Obama administration seems reluctant to vacate its occupation of Afghanistan. It talks of a “long haul.” A “draw down” of troops may start from July, but, both the outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and incoming Leon Panetta, favor American presence in Afghanistan well beyond the 2014 deadline announced in Madrid.
In fact, the U.S. seems so determined to prolong its occupation of Afghanistan, that outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a blistering attack on NATO at Brussels in June in a valedictory speech. He lambasted members for failing to lend all out support in men and resources to the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan.
In his bluntest warning to the Europeans, Gates fumed that that NATO had degenerated into a “two-tiered” alliance of those willing to wage war and those only interested in “talking” and peacekeeping.
Actually, Afghanistan has, in recent times, assumed a pivotal status in America’s South-Asian strategy. Policymakers in Washington have realized their folly in leaving Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. They are not going to repeat the same mistake again.
Moreover, the situation has also changed remarkably. Today there are other factors as well, besides ensuring that Afghanistan never again breeds an enemy of the “American people.” Most important is Afghanistan’s con-