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I’ve been struggling since Barack Obama entered the White House over what my attitude towards NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan should be. One side of me does not believe we can achieve even limited goals; the other side says that we Europeans should support the new president.

The principal objective of the Obama policy is to defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan, which is inextricably linked. He insists that

“We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the US, our friends and our allies, and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists,” said Mr Obama. “The safety of people around the world is at stake,” he added.

The trouble is that we have to take the word of our political leaders, who in turn rely largely on their intelligence services, not the most reliable information source in the past. It seems to me that we have no choice but to accept that there is a serious risk of further terrorist attacks in Europe. We can hardly ask for a public enquiry!

Mr Obama says that Afghanistan has been denied the resources it needed for the last three years and has promised to commit more in terms of development projects and training for Afghan forces. There are currently around 38 000 US troops in Afghanistan, to be joined by 17 000 more together with a further 4 000 to help train the Afghan army and police. The president seeks to build an Afghan army of 134,000 and a police force of 82,000.

NATO heads of state and government, at their Strasbourg-Kehl summit meeting, have just agreed to a significant expansion of the training and support effort for Afghan National Security Forces, enhanced engagement with neighbouring countries and a more integrated approach to working with the international community and the Afghan government. The leaders reaffirmed that their strategic vision was based on long-term commitment, Afghan leadership, a fully comprehensive3 and a regional approach.

To demonstrate this commitment, nine European countries agreed to send up to 5 000 temporary troops and logistical help ahead of the August presidential elections. Significant additional resources for training and mentoring the Afghan security forces, together with substantial increases in civilian aid, will also be provided.

An integrated strategy

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained before the NATO meeting,

“It is an integrated military-civilian strategy. We are convinced that the most critical underpinning of any success we hope to achieve, along with the people and government of Afghanistan, will be looking at where civilian trainers, aid workers, technical assistance of all kinds can be best utilized.

At last, Washington understands the risk of Pakistan becoming a failed state, despite the billions of dollars of aid received from the US. There can be no successful Afghanistan strategy without an effective Pakistan one. Thus, Afghanistan and Pakistan must be approached with one overall strategy, while recognising that they are two different countries. The Obama administration well understands that any success in Afghanistan would be undermined if violence spiralled in Pakistan and vice versa.

No time limit has been set, signalling a long-term commitment towards both countries. This open-ended arrangement with no clear exit strategy will worry some, but it might reassure the two countries in question.

Central to that effort will be the vast amount of US aid and development projects in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And a solution?

The trouble is that nothing in the US or NATO plans shows how al-Qaeda and the Taliban can be permanently defeated, opium farming stopped and modern agriculture made to flourish. Let’s assume that all goes well with the Afghan policy. How is the3 north-west region of Pakistan going to be cleared of its Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters? And how can Pakistan’s writ be made to run throughout the country?

Pakistan needs heavy forces to cope with the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, but 90% of its soldiers are deployed along the Indian borders. Part of the puzzle is, therefore, to create sufficient confidence between Pakistan and Indian to allow more soldiers to be moved to north-west Pakistan: this brings the Kashmir dispute onto the table

If it is unlikely that NATO forces can ensure that Afghanistan will become and remain an Al-Qaeda and Taliban free country, why should we continue this doomed exercise? We seem doomed if we do and doomed if we don’t. Withdrawing from Afghanistan now is not politically possible for Obama, whatever he really feels will be the outcome. And Obama deserves European support for reasons beyond Afghanistan.

Europe’s troop commitment is likely to be raised again in due course by the US president, who said that the agreement at the NATO summit

Was (only) “a strong down payment”.

Despite, or because of, my dichotomy of thought I am relieved at the NATO decision but believe that the Afghanistan problem will not be solved by simply integrating the Pakistan dimension. The entire context needs changing – or rather extending – to include India, Iran and Iraq; in fact the Greater Middle East. And this brings us back to the need to find an Israel-Palestine solution.

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  1. http://www.ww4report.com/node/6943

    A rather interesting analysis above raises the issue of the Bush Administration’s role in Central Asia. It was really a Bush Administration imperial crime on top of an imperial grab by the Clinton Administration. President Obama inherits a most shameful post Cold War Great Grab for oil and gas rich Central Asia. Our nation now is attempting to hold Afghanistan which is nothing but a cork to the Islamic spread throughout the South and Central Asian regions. Therein lays a severely sticky and high traction momentum for which Clinton and Bush must hold personal responsibility. The feebleness of Russia under Yeltsin permitted Western avarice to become paroxysmal. In particular, the American right-wing “wrecking crew” so well described in recent literature accelerated libertine expression of this corporate avarice to a point of utter recklessness.

    Defensive reactions were inevitable. Firstly, alQaeda entered the negotiating realm with an Islamo-ideologic argument based on the role of Islamic religion to Soviet anti-ecclesiastic campaign. It can be factually argued that, not President Reagan, but the Muslims of the USSR defeated the Soviet Union. The CIA’s role was as a limitless supplier of arms and cash only. alQaeda had argued that the Islamic Revolution of Afghanistan must be advanced “Westward” as well as Southeastward into India. The Taliban bought into the transnational argument of binLaden. But we were fraudulently presented with the “westward” argument as defining attacking Europe and the US when in fact the target was Central and South Asia. At first, Saudi Arabia and Iran fully supported the anti-Soviet Afghan War. China– which has long been fighting the Uygur Muslim nationalists in Sinkiang Province, nevertheless, supported Muslim Pakistan as the bridgehead to dismembering of India, its main Asian enemy.

    Since the 1980s we have witnessed a Sunni-Shia unity directed from Teheran that undermined the Egyptian and Saudi governments. These in turn supported Saddam Hussein as a transition to Islamism. Perceiving the Iranian Iean-to-Iraq collaboration to destroy the Western economic hold in the Middle East, the US worked a wedge war between Baghdad and Teheran. This drained American power out of South Asia (Afghanistan). The EU was well aware that the “western” target of the Muslims was limited to the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia and insisted on maintaining emphasis on diplomatic efforts in the Middle East on the promise of an Iraq-Iran switch from the perto$ to the Euro would enrich its European members. The Bush Administration, without any logical reason expected that as US troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan the European would be forced to fill the void. But just as they favored on-intervention in Iraq they felt no need to invade Afghanistan. Such expectation from NATO only exposes the utter illusion of dominion that the Bush Administration felt it had over Europe.

    Bush Administration reckless bully diplomacy forced a Russo-Chinese collaboration, the Shanghai Accord, which on the surface pretends to be only a trade accord but is in fact a security pact created by Moscow in response to the Chinese panic over pre-9/11 US policy to surround China. Over the post 9/11 years, the Bush Administration was skillfully maneuvered, dissipating the credibility of its bully threats, so that now the Shanghai Accord extends to Central and Mainland Asia, including India, Pakistan, Iran and all the Central Asian states. Admittedly this construction is still amorphous and a work in progress suffering much internal contradictions. But it is a means to an end that is united on one point only: the US cannot be allowed to dominate Afghanistan. Despite their opposition to each other, the Shanghai Accord members have a common goal of keeping Afghanistan as a means of exasanguinating US power while never allowing a resolution by the US and US withdrawal. A sort of “1984” Russo-Asian Bloc is standing against the even weaker western US-EU Bloc that seeks domination of Afghanistan to cut off Asian influence over Central Asia, leaving a weak Russia alone as an easy Western barrier to Western corporate domination of Central Asia. Alas, the Shanghai Accord surrounds Afghanistan, the EU sees no reason to lose more wealth and lives there and the US is exasanguinating hopelessly alone because it cannot afford to invest the massive effort required to dominate that vast mountainous nation. The crux of the matter is that America is finding itself abandoned by NATO and alone in Central-South Asia and can only stay there if manipulated to Shanghai Accord interests because the American economy is dependent on its Shanghai Accord bankers. The range of options permitted the US because of the internal contradictions of the Shanghai Accord does not range to include any prospect of successful elimination of the Taliban.

    It has been propagandized by right-wing Republicans that if the US withdraws it will betray the women of Afghanistan. Videos of a 13 y/o girl whipped for taking to a boy is used to make the case. But if one were to consider the violation of women’s rights in India, Pakistan and China–America’s illusory allies and bankers– the entire case seems utterly hypocritical. It seems utterly irresponsible for the United States– much like the late Roman Empire– to waste its volunteer army under incompetent command in areas where victory is beyond their abilities and the investment of resources required far beyond what the American people are willing to invest. It is true that, in the absence of conscription, most Americans care so little for the lives of the heroic soldiers in the field that staying in the fight will be supported when contraposed with defeat– a position would never have been accepted had we drawn the troops through universal draft. But the material costs will soon sour the US public to this incredibly poorly fought war, almost as bad as the Soviet effort. By then, this grossly mishandled “Bush’s War” will have become “Obama’s War,” leaving him to bear responsibility for the withdrawal in defeat that is inevitable. It will be like blaming an operation botched by a lead surgeon on the one who sutures the wound because the patient died while the latter was closing.

    Nevertheless, Americans traditionally avoid learning from the past. Too many defeats have been wiped from analytic memory in shame and a desire to maintain the illusion of military omnipotence. Like the Israeli army, the American military pretends that the incompetence of its command is not the issue and that the growing competence of its opponents can never match its own.

    So what would happen if the US withdrew from Afghanistan?

    First and foremost, let us recall that the real concern of Americans is that the Islamic struggle would then pour out of Afghanistan to flood Pakistan. In retort, let us recall that a) Pakistan’s original involvement with the Taliban is because of the latter’s strategic importance in its endless war with India. India is attempting an end-run around Pakistan by exploiting economic relations with non-Taliban Afghan tribes. That forces Pakistan to stand with the Taliban at cost of the Taliban having created a Pakistani Islamist Taliban to overthrow the secular Pakistani government and establish the first nuclear Sharia. India’s hope is that in this way it convinces the US/EU alliance to dismember Pakistan and return it to Indian rule, as it had been under British colonialism. Seeking depth, Pakistan cannot afford to succumb to Western demands that it be engulfed by India while Pakistan serves as the staging base for a Western defeat of Afghanistan’s Pashtuns. This Indian scheme, however, would never be allowed by China because Pakistan is the most critical ally of China in Asia and the sole barrier between Western China– where Muslim resistance is a problem– and India. Pakistan is also China’s Southern port outlet and inlet for its Mideast oil. And, Pakistan is the best means China has of putting pressure on India in the economic-strategic competition between the two states. b) The bonds of the Shanghai Accord constitute a complex balance between all its members. That is why there is little formal organizational rigidity in it except for economic processes; that is why it is misread as an economic accord. That strategic flexible balance becomes far more stressed and at the same time far more necessary to all its members if the US withdraws from Central Asia so that no one wins and no one loses. And, as the region ceases to be a war zone resisting Western imperialism, these internal contradictions become increasingly prominent, causing these nations to resort to complex diplomacy rather than combat. Also, many of these contradictions can only be ameliorated by economic ties to the West as none of the members can really dominate nor satisfy the needs of each member.

    American presence in the area will only polarize the locals as more and more non-combatant “collateral damage” results from defensive American/NATO action. NATO can destroy itself, overcome by its inadequacy in Afghanistan, as opposed to its orderly operation as a European Defense Structure only. The Shanghai Accord needs only operate as an opportunity to Central/South Asian states seeking a bypass of American power, as the above article seems to imply.

    Obama has very little time to bite the bullet. As the Iraq War ends muddled and unresolved, his presidency cannot afford Afghanistan also ending as HIS failure. His only hope is to transfer the whole problem to the Shanghai Accord where it will forever be entangled in the Accord’s fluidity where no one loses, no one wins. It has been mendaciously put forward by VP Cheney, Rumsfeld (though now he dares no longer speak as recklessly as before), Rove and several FOXNEWS Republican propagandists that if we withdraw from Afghanistan we will again face a repeat of 9/11. What they fail to truthfully admit is that post-9/11 Bush mendaciously covered for the airline companies that had violated laws established during the 1970s when the US faced multiple skyjackings. It was decreed at the time that all airlines would be provided a locked impenetrable pilot’s cabin and two sky marshals would be put on every plane. But because of cheap fares competition all the airlines violated this law. As a result, Jihadi shahids looking for a way to try again to destroy the World Trade Center and to do damage to Wash DC government buildings, while riding First Class cross country, discovered that the pilot’s cabin is never locked. Thus, on 9/11, four aircrafts were completely taken over within ten minutes each. Unless we repeat this gross negligence, such conversion of airlines into missiles will never again occur. To say, therefore, that 9/11 happened, because Afghanistan was a “rogue” state controlled by the Taliban, we suffered 9/11 is a gross lie. It happened because security LAWS WERE DISOBEYED. I can only conclude that utterly irresponsible political opportunists are making the current Republican case. For had Afghanistan been so important, Bush would have held to his refusal to cannibalize the Afghan War in order to present Congress with a fait accompli in Iraq, as proposed by Rumsfeld, wherein US troops in battle could not be refused funding.

    Americans as a people cannot pretend that the past does not exist and that they, therefore, do not have to face its consequences. The US had its chance to deal with the Islamic Jihad and totally failed. This fact cannot be erased with mechanized killing of Muslims using remote controlled drones guided by platoons on the ground. This nation is exsanguinating its young men and resources, manipulated by nations that have no match in force but are endowed far greater ability in diplomacy and “stratergerizing.” Obama cannot be a repeat of corrupt Bush II. He must courageously face the amputation required to avoid the systemic infection that the Soviet Union faced after its defeated veterans returned from Afghanistan. Those returned PTSD victims, the maimed and the families of the dead are Bush’s victims. Soon they will be Obama’s. His only hope is to dare to do the right thing now and not wait for some miraculous “Dayton Accord” illusion.

    Daniel E. Teodoru

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

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