Washington’s ambitions in Afghanistan have been scaled down from building a reliable, democratic friend to leaving behind a scarcely credible state barely capable of withstanding the Taliban onslaught expected after 2014. After nearly 11 years, that is sadly not saying much.Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Afghanistan: ‘After the hurly burly’s done, the battle lost and won’
- In 1989, when the Soviet Union ended its nine-year adventure in Afghanistan, and 2001, when America stepped in… it was the same war.
- The USSR was propping up a communist government. The Americans replaced the Taliban with a kleptocracy.
- The USSR lost 13,500 combat troops and their empire, the US has blown $450 billion without creating any institutions likely to survive retreat.
- Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post reports in his new book, “Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan,” we had no chance for success. We sent too few troops to mount a counterinsurgency, being otherwise occupied in Iraq. Our reconstruction effort was hampered by a sometimes craven corps of aid officials.
- The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported last year that about 97 percent of the Afghan GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was dependent on donations.
The donors pledged $16 billion much of it will be stolen. We will be returning to the 90s. Mr. Obama’s new strategy is to somehow stabilize the war torn areas, work with Pakistan, talk to the Taliban, and then begin a face-saving exit from Afghanistan. No secrets here.
The US Administration, the British government, NATO Administrators, and ISAF generals are now committed to a fast and expeditious exit from Afghanistan in 2011. His presidency and the growth of the US economy depends on it.
As soon as the last soldiers leave Kabul, there will be a huge food fight between the Conservatives and the Liberals–on both sides of the pond. In the UK, images of the battle of Maiwand, and Gandawak will be conjured up to berate the Liberals. It will be Atlee versus Churchill once again. In the US, pictures of the withdrawal from Vietnam will play as cannon fodder in the 2012 elections. On the one had will be the Conservatives, and possibly former General Patraeus–on the other hand President Obama leading the withdrawal from “the Charge of the Light Brigade”.
The US, and European memory banks are short. Soon after their departure from Kabul they will begin forgetting about the Hindu Kush. It will no longer be or prime US importance. Central and West Asia will fade from the first page very quickly.
The US military exit from Afghanistan, far from boosting the so called global crime syndicate (if it ever existed), is likely to trigger a free for all in the graveyard of empires. The are several forces vying for supremacy in the land of the Hindu Kush. On the one had there are the US, UK and Pakistan–all working in tandem for peace in the troubled land. On the other hand there are Bharatis (aka Indians).
As far as Washington is concerned, not just Hamid Karzai but even the post-2002 Afghan state is dispensable.
- As Washington extricates itself from Afghanistan, political factions will emerge around tribal and ethnic lines, fighting and allying among themselves and seeking external support.
- This process will be exacerbated as the Taliban inevitably take or share power.
- The old paradigm of the “civil war” China-Pakistan-Saudi versus India-Russia-Iran alignments no longer hold true. Today the alliance is China-Pakistan-Saudi-Russia versus India-USA. This a losing proposition for Bharat and the US because neither country has a border with Afghanistan. They can prop up the regime only for so long.
- That drama from the 18th century sets the stage for Bharat’s obsession with Afghanistan and its revanchist desires to extend its borders to the Amu Darya (Oxus).
Bharati interest in Afghanistan does not stem from geopolitical realities, it stems form scripture. The temple indoctrinated diplomatic corp is marching to the orders of what has been programmed into their collective DNA. The programming stems from pseudo-history conjured by John Princep and his acolytes in the 17th century. They were conspiring to create a “Hindu nation”, so that the Muslim aliens could be expelled or converted and power could be transferred “back” to the so called “original inhabitants”.
The appeal of a grand past was used to entice the Hindus, so that they could cooperate with the new rulers. The British would thus deliver the Hindus to the promised land–so that they would not be ruled by Muslims anymore. Names like Ashoka were concocted whose mythical land supposedly encompassed all of South Asia. History was manufactured by the British. The name “Ashoka’ never appears in any contemporary history book, Bharati narrative, or Greek text of the time. Sir John Priincep and his chief acolyte Pandit Radhakantta were happy to sell the snake oil. It created a goal for the Hindus. For John Princep, it helped perpetuate British rule in South Asia, and gave his evangelist side a playground to convert unsuspecting Hindus to Christianity. For this he was awarded a knighthood.
The Bharatis know that it cannot control the Afghan Pakhtuns. It remembers well that in the aftermath of the Soviet withdrawal, Moscows chosen puppet lasted a few weeks. Delhi remembers well that Mr. Najibullah had traveled to Delhi amid a lot of fanfare, and signed all sorts of treaties with Delhi. A few days later he was found hanging from a Kabul lamppost. Within hours the Bharatis were packing their bags back to Delhi.
Today Bharat is creating a fall back position. It will try to gain influence in Kabul–failing which it will establish its headquarters in Mazar Sharif, and try to repeat the scenarios of the 80s, when Afghanistan was pretty much divided along ethnic lines–the Pakhtuns controlling 90% of the territory and the Tajik alliance controlling 10% of the land. Delhi, knows that after its falling out with mr. Karzai and the Iranains, it has little or no hope of controlling Kabul. It is trying for the next best thing–trying to control a part of Afghanistan. Delhi’s in a post-American Afghanistan will thus try its hardest to bifurcate Afghanistan into Pakistani and Bharati areas of influence. Most Bharati think tanks are therefore working to get a robust policy to get this partition implemented. Bharat hopes that by constantly keeping the Afghans embroiled in a fratricidal war, it will be able to propagate its nefarious irredentist plans to gain territory.
As Mr. Obama recovers from the military surge in Afghanistan and restarts an aid surge to Pakistan, he will be blowing the bugle of a defeat and retreat. This is the only sane way to bring peace to the country torn by war for the past three decades.
The current Afghan structures are untenable and cannot sustained, even the short run. Mr. Karzai and his cronies cannot run Kabul let alone all of Afghanistan. In a post US Afghanistan, the Pakhtuns would certainly make a run for Kabul to replay the 1996 scenario–which represents the normal state of affairs in Kabul for the past several centuries. It will be easy. The last time around, Iran, Russia and Bharat were supporting the opposing forces. This time around Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, the US and the UK are are singing from the same page on the hymnal. The Non-Pakhtun and Non-Taliban forces are weak.
After the departure of US troops and the winding down of operations, the US may maintain bases with drones. The US desire to interfere in Afghanistan will fast diminish after most of the forces have been left. The ephemeral “US interests” will be given a new dimension–and the US will work with local actors and Pakistan to pursue its goals.
Bharat hopes that the most likely outcome of the Afghan power struggle triggered by an American pull out would be the formalization of the 1996 type of partition of Afghanistan. The impoverished country where 75% of the citizens live under $2 per day has somehow found spent $1.2 to spend on Afghanistan. Most of that aid has been spent in a manner to consecrate the old partition. Delhi hopes that the Hazaras, Tajiks, and Uzbeks, could be sequestered in a Bharati-Afghanistan away from the Pakistani border and along the border with Uzbekistan. Delhi has given up on the Pakhtuns.
Delhi feels that and thinks that it would be wise to continue to ferment trouble in Pakhtun lands on both sides of the Durand Line. Delhi has accepted Pakistan’s dominance of the Pakhtun lands and thinks that the Durand Line today exists only in maps. Bharat recognizes the unity of Afghanistan and Pakistan and knows that the border has little political, ethnic and economic relevance. Bharat knows that will be militarily impracticable to re-impose the Durand Line.
Keywords: Afghanistan, U.S., American military, exit, jihad, fight against terrorism