Wash­ing­ton’s long-held il­lu­sions will cre­ate more mess in Afghanistan

Tehran Times - - ANALYSIS & INTERVIEW -

De­spite 17 years of war and oc­cu­pa­tion, the United States and its al­lies have been un­able to de­feat the Tal­iban in Afghanistan.

Quite the op­po­site, the Tal­iban is get­ting stronger all the time, and now con­trols more of Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 US in­va­sion. That con­trol is ex­tend­ing in all re­gions of the coun­try, with them con­test­ing sub­stan­tial por­tions of vi­tal prov­inces, or con­trol­ling them out­right. Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent SIGAR es­ti­mate, 12% of Kabul is now un­der di­rect Tal­iban con­trol, with an­other 32% of the city con­sid­ered at the very least con­tested!

In other words, the Tal­iban can now con­test vir­tu­ally any part of Afghanistan they choose, able to make a se­ri­ous run at seiz­ing al­most any city, at least tem­po­rar­ily, and can carry out so many si­mul­ta­ne­ous of­fen­sives that the US mil­i­tary can­not re­act to them all. This was all pre­dictable:

- The 17th com­man­der in Afghanistan, Austin “Scott” Miller, like so many of the gen­er­als who pre­ceded him, claims he sees ev­i­dence of “progress” in the Afghan war. But he re­fuses to “guar­an­tee you a time­line or an end date.” In a con­flict with no end in sight, that is now the long­est in Amer­i­can his­tory, the US has not been able to score a hint of vic­tory any­where. That could be said as well of the rest of its so-called war on ter­ror across the Mid­dle East.

- War and oc­cu­pa­tion is the Amer­i­can blood­stream. The US didn’t in­vade Afghanistan to pro­mote free­dom and democ­racy. Prof­its and power are the rea­sons why de­spite 17 years of fail­ure the War Party in­sists on con­tin­u­ing its war and oc­cu­pa­tion. Many Afghan men, women and chil­dren have lost their lives, but who cares since busi­ness is boom­ing? Add in, as well, the is­sue of po­lit­i­cal cred­i­bil­ity. No pres­i­dent wants to ap­pear weak, as pulling back from a war has been the def­i­ni­tion of weak­ness. Don­ald Trump is not an ex­cep­tion. He has no in­ten­tion to be known as the pres­i­dent who lost Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

- Wash­ing­ton’s deeply embed­ded il­lu­sions and de­cep­tions serve to gen­er­ate and per­pet­u­ate its ill-be­got­ten wars. In Syria, the US claims its oc­cu­py­ing troops are free­dom fight­ers for peace and pros­per­ity, and have waged a bru­tal war to spread democ­racy and a bet­ter way of life. The trou­ble is, this par­tic­u­lar war has only sup­ported and spread ter­ror groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda. The same has hap­pened in Afghanistan, where the pres­ence of ISIL mil­i­tants has only in­creased the wide­spread killing of in­no­cents and mas­sive dis­place­ment of the peo­ple across the war-torn coun­try, while there has been an in­creas­ing body of ev­i­dence piled up by the re­gional states on the United States’ out­stand­ing role in trans­fer­ring com­man­ders and groups of ISIL from Syria to Afghanistan af­ter the ter­ror­ist group lost the war in the Le­vant.

- Wash­ing­ton knows it has lost the war. That’s why its com­man­ders play so much with weapons and train­ing and tech­nol­ogy and tac­tics and surge. These are the things they can con­trol. But they can­not con­trol Afghanistan and its peo­ple. These peo­ple don’t like oc­cu­piers and they won’t do Amer­ica’s bid­ding. That is pre­cisely why the US failed – de­spite hav­ing a mas­sive em­bassy, re­gional com­mand cen­ters, elec­tion ad­vi­sors, pri­vate se­cu­rity guards, mil­i­tary train­ers and ad­vi­sors, diplo­mats and civil­ian en­ablers.

As it hap­pens, the 2001 US-led in­va­sion of Afghanistan, far from bring­ing free­dom to that coun­try, sowed chaos. The in­vaders in­ad­ver­tently lit the fire that burned down a na­tional or­der. Now there is no easy Amer­i­can so­lu­tion when it comes to Afghanistan, and un­for­tu­nately, few in Wash­ing­ton are will­ing to ac­cept such re­al­i­ties. Their un­war­ranted op­ti­mism about the ef­fi­cacy of US power will only fuel more chaos next year.

Tragic enough, Wash­ing­ton’s of­fi­cial­dom reg­u­larly and re­peat­edly draws er­ro­neous les­sons from the re­cent past surges and ig­nores a hard truth star­ing them in the face: US mil­i­tary ac­tion in Afghanistan – and in the Mid­dle East - has solved noth­ing at all. The iso­la­tion­ists are un­will­ing to ac­cept this. They strug­gle to ad­mit fail­ure and with­draw, stay­ing busy with claims about be­ing “suc­cess­ful” and over­es­ti­mat­ing the ef­fi­cacy of Amer­i­can power.

A pol­icy as such will only con­trib­ute to and cre­ate more of to­day’s mess in Afghanistan. It is long past time for Wash­ing­ton’s of­fi­cial­dom to re­assess their mil­i­ta­rized ver­sion of for­eign pol­icy, chal­lenge their longheld as­sump­tions and pa­tri­otic fa­bles, with­draw their troops, and al­low the peo­ple of Afghanistan to shape their coun­try to their de­sires.

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