Stanley's blog

Whither Afghanistan?

A column by Gwynne Dyer, “Obama’s Vietnam?” prompted me to think about Afghanistan in the context of the change of administration in Washington.

The first air-strike under President Obama has taken place in Pakistan, inevitable killing citizens as well as terrorists. It also violates Pakistani sovereignty.

Obama is in an unenviable position. His predecessor ignored history and did not understand the nature of Afghan society. He was then distracted by the Iraq misadventure.

Afghanistan is an unwinnable war with the number of troops that are there and will be there in the future. And what would happen to Afghanistan if the Taliban were defeated? In any case, Pakistan and its north-eastern province have long been the root of the problem. President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan army he theoretically commands have failed to put down the insurrection, and are clearly losing ground.

Obama has always believed that Iraq was an unwise and unnecessary war. What does he and his advisers think about Afghanistan? What will there policy be towards Pakistan and,in particular, the north-western tribal areas?

Will he be influenced by European reluctance to send more troops to Afghanistan? While Europe has a historical tendency to leave the burden to the US, even when there is an agreed objective, the reluctance of European leaders and their peoples to become more embroiled in Afghanistan is understandable.

The War in Afghanistan, was launched in October 2001, less than one month after 7/11. How does the continuation of the war fit Obama’s affirmation to Muslims on Al-Arabiya TV that “My job is to communicate that Americans are not your enemy.”?

President Karzai is part of the problem, but what is the chance of a sufficiently uncorrupt government being elected? Much of the corruption is facilitated by the huge flow of money that the occupation produces.

Would the elimination from Afghanistan of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda reduce the terrorist threat? They will not disappear and Pakistan is nearby.

How long will it take Obama before he plans the dignified evacuation of American troops from Afghanistan?

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