Tony Kron is one of the latest journalist who is writing about what is writ on the wall–the US defeat and escape from Afghanistan. Time magazine, not a left wing rag, has titled the obvious in the form of a question “Is the US admitting defeat in Afghanistan?”. Kron answers the question thus. “Don’t expect to hear about it in the presidential campaign debates, but the U.S. will leave Afghanistan locked in an escalating civil war when it observes the 2014 deadline for withdrawing combat troops set by the Obama Administration — and supported by Gov. Mitt Romney. ”
David Ignatius writing for the Daily Star in Beirut has a story which describes the cut and run as “The U.S. looks for a decent escape from Afghanistan.”
Kabul and Islamabad are exploring a bare-bones strategy that would narrow each side’s demands to a set of minimum conditions for escaping the current diplomatic dead end.
- The aim is to create a pathway for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from a war that almost nobody sees as “winnable” by military force alone.
- The goal is a framework for political transition where each side’s demands are boiled down to the irreducible essentials – providing a better deal for each party than they could get from battling on.
- U.S. officials involved in the informal discussions liken this approach to the 1993 Downing Street Declaration on Northern Ireland that narrowed Catholic and Protestant demands to the basic items that then created space to negotiate the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended the civil conflict there.
Kron states the obvious with the explosive statement “Washington has known for years that it had no hope of destroying the Taliban, and that it would have to settle for a compromise political solution with an indigenous insurgency that remains sufficiently popular to have survived the longest U.S. military campaign in history.”
Gen. Ehsan Ul-Haq, a former chief of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) and a former chairman of the Pakistani joint chiefs of staff has been working on what is called “Track Two channles”. Working with U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan Haq sees two baseline U.S. demands:
- No Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and
- No return to the Taliban’s oppressive policies toward women;
The Taliban, according to Haq, has just one irreducible demand:
- No more foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The first US demand is a mute point. The second American demand is entirely reasonable and should be mandated. The Talib demand of “no US forces” is similar to the demand given tot he withdrawing Russian forces.
Kron of Time Magazine picks up on the New York Times story, reported by Rupee News yesterday–which describes the new US thinking. “Lets cut and run right after the elections, and let the Afghans figure out the peace deals in Kabul”. In other words, the lofty goals of nation building and all of the stuff that Bruce Reidel and Ahmed Rashid have written– have been thrown into the dustbin–as presciently predicted by Rupee News.
As true as the statement is, it is mind boggling to watch the US president state with a straight face the things that he said in the State of the Union message. Both the Republicans and the Democrats want the war to go away. Mitt Romney has not stood up to President Obama to ask for an extension of the war “to get the job done, defeat the Taliban” and other bombastics words to the effect.
Ahmed Rashid and Bruce Reidel were huffing and puffing and waging the propaganda war. Kron eloquently describes the chronology of events and focuses on the milestone in 2009 when the US was still trying to make a peace deal “Still, as late as 2009, the U.S. had hoped to set the terms of that compromise, and force the Taliban to find a place for themselves in the constitutional order created by the NATO invasion and accept a Karzai government it has long dismissed as ‘puppets.’ ”
The noises out of Kabul are the same. “Afghanistan will work ‘vigorously’ to seek peace with the Taliban, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul vowed Wednesday as the US said the door was still open to the insurgents to hold talks.
Pakistan has been invited to vet the Taliban interlocutors–after a series of embarrassing encountners between the Karzai and US government and the fake Talibs.
Kron further admits that the Tajik based Afghan National Army (ANA) “will control considerably less Afghan territory than NATO forces currently do”. Hence the Balckwill solution which wanted to partition Afghanistan along ethnic lines.
Rupee News has been predicting that the NATO and ISAF forces will leave Afghanistan in 2013, not 2014. When we first predicted this, some made fun of us, claiming that the war will continue beyond 2014. Kron confirms our prediction “And once it is clear that even a raging Taliban insurgency is no longer considered an obstacle to the departure of U.S. and allied combat units, the rationale for staying even through 2014 becomes murky. Already there’s been talk of having little more than a residual force of trainers and special forces in place by the time the withdrawal deadline arrives — and that such a force would stay beyond the deadline, anyway. ”
We have always echoed what Kron calls “pessimistic analysts” like British Conservative MP Rory Stewart who “harbor doubt that either the current system of government, or the security forces, will long survive a U.S. departure.”
Stewart describes the reality of a Post-US Afghanistan: “If the U.S., Britain and their allies leave Afghanistan, there will be chaos and perhaps civil war. The economy will falter and the Afghan government will probably be unable to command the loyalty or support of its people. The Taliban could significantly strengthen their position in the south and east, and attack other areas. Powerful men, gorged on foreign money, extravagantly armed and connected to the deepest veins of corruption and gangsterism, will flex their muscles. For all these reasons departure will feel – rightly – like a betrayal of Afghans and of the soldiers who have died.”
Stewart further describes the reality that none of the Western states have the ability to pump billions into Afghanistan. “In the absence of “victory”, three alternative strategies have been proposed: training the Afghan security forces, political settlement with the Taliban and a regional solution. But training Afghan forces, which cost $12bn in 2010 alone, will not guarantee their future loyalty to a Kabul government. Two years and many regional conferences have passed since the formation of the Afghan Higher Peace council, and the clear NATO endorsement of reconciliation: but there is no sign that insurgents, the Kabul government or its neighbours will reach a deal, or feel much desire so to do. So there is no military solution, and no political solution either. Nor will there be before the troops leave. We will have to deal for decades with a troubled Afghanistan, which is not likely in my lifetime to be as wealthy as Libya, as effectively governed as Iraq, as educated as Syria, or as institutionally mature as Pakistan.”
The US should have allied itself with Pakistan and gone against the bad guys. Instead it opted for carpet bombing, defeating the Talibs, annihilating the Pakhtuns, destabilizing Pakistan, drone bombing the FATA region and nation building for Afghanistan. All of the misadventures have failed.
US and NATO policy makers want a post-2013/2014 presence in bases heavily guarded by large equipment. The bases will be supported by US drones and planes which will provide air-cover to the ANA. Neither China, nor Russia, nor Iran nor Pakistan accept the long term US or NATO presence in Afghanistan. Russia in fact has stated that there is no UN mandate to keep NATO forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
Rupee News predicts that that the bases will be run over in a couple of years, and the US will withdraw the bulk of its forces from the graveyard of empires.
Kron admits and finally answers “the question Chances are, it’s not going to look much like the Afghanistan the U.S. had hoped to leave behind.”
Mr. Karzai and Mr. Abdullah will all be living comfortably in some Western capital, in Dubai or in Mumbai. These puppets really don’t have stake in Afghanistan beyond this year, so they will be seen leaving.