Skip to content

Unsurging from Afghanistan and Pakistan

by on 12/28/2010

Ho_Chi_Minh_1946Ho Chi Minh portrait in c. 1946. The US blamed the reverses in Vietnam on the so called Ho Chi Minh trail that ran through Cambodia to China. In the end the US ended up bombing all of Cambodia for years. The end result–total defeat of US forces in Vietnam and the rise of the Khemer Rouge in Cambodia.

Share on FacebookShare

The US has completed another review. The findings are being commented upon by Washington insiders. Most do not comprehend the fragility of the US policy and continue to espouse perpetual mimetic warfare against Eurasia, Oceana etc. Most analysts have not learned the lessons from the Cambodiazation of Vietnam war. Many still are looking for ephemeral “Ho Chi Minh” trails in Pakistan. The Generals in the graveyard of empires go from defeat to defeat and lie about it, dressing up and putting lipstick on a pig. They constant mantra is about “safe havens”

a Vietnam vintage phrase that hides the defeats on the ground. Afghanistan has not been occupied and calm because a few dozen insurgents hide in FATA.

This is utter nonsense.

90% of Afghanistan is in the hands of the Taliban. Why do they need a safe haven anywhere? How does that prevent NATO and ISAF from sealing the border from the other side? The US cannot seal the border despite the fact that it has 150,000 soldiers, drones, choppers, satellites, F-22s, F-35s, and AWACs at its disposal. How can it expect Pakistan to seal the same border that the US cannot seal? Even is the border was as sealed as the shark pool in Atlantis, the fact remains Afghanistan is still in the hands of the Taliban. What can the US do about it? Nothing–except blame Pakistan for its failures.

Richard Haas of the conservative Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal is urging an “Unsurge”–a dramatic reduction of US forces in Afghanistan. Mr. Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars

“While the situation on the ground in Afghanistan should improve in areas where U.S. military forces are operating in strength, the gains are likely to fade in the wake of their departure. The inherent weakness of central government institutions in Afghanistan, the tenacity of the Taliban and their ties to Afghanistan’s many Pashtuns,”

Haas underestimates the actual costs of the war– but his points are still valid “The costs of the policy are considerable. There are just under 100,000 U.S. troops in the country. This year alone nearly 500 American soldiers have lost their lives. Ten times that many suffered casualties. It is costing U.S. taxpayers between $100 billion and $125 billion a year. The commitment is tying down a significant portion of military and intelligence assets, and it is absorbing significant time and energy of U.S. officials in Washington and abroad.”

Haas’ vividly describes the panic in Washington and the frustration of the policy makers who have no clue on how to deal with the inevitable retreat from the Hindu Kush.

The “Groupthink” among US thinktankers is again rearing it ugly head to repeat the same old nonsense that has gotten the US into the quagmire called Afghanistan. One big exception is Daniel Markey, the Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia agrees with the findings of Mr. Obama’s review “The review goes on to suggest that the challenge of Pakistan’s border areas must be addressed through better strategic balance and integration, including greater cooperation with Pakistan, more effective development strategies, and improved dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Markey goes on to further describe the reality “Neither U.S. dialogue nor U.S. assistance will convince Pakistan’s defense and intelligence leaders that they should finally take up arms against the Afghan Talibangroups (especially the Haqqani Network and Quetta Shura) that have long enjoyed passive or active support from Islamabad. Nor will unilateral U.S. tools–drone strikes on compounds along the Afghan border and limited military incursions–do what is necessary to defeat the Taliban based inside Pakistan. The United States needs Pakistan’s cooperation.

But the only way to convince Pakistani leaders to change course would be to demonstrate that the United States is serious about bringing enduring stability to Afghanistan, and that Washington’s definition of Afghan stability does not leave a place for the leaders of extremist and terrorist groups now waging war from Pakistani soil. Only then might Pakistani leaders decide that a better way to protect their enduring interests in Afghanistan would be through the support of legitimate, nonviolent political actors.”

Richard Haas discounts the strategic importance of Afghanistan for America and propounds the thinking that there are other threats to which the US should pay attention to.

“There are also broader reasons to recast policy. The greatest threat to U.S. national security stems from our own fiscal crisis. Afghanistan is a significant contributor to this situation and could play an important role in reducing it. A savings of $75 billion a year could help finance much-needed military modernization and reduce the deficit.”

Markey’s analysis published in the Council For Foreign Relations is a breath of fresh air. He clearly defines the limits of American power and inventories the flaws in the surge review. He correctly points out that actions not words will convince the Pakistanis about US intentions in Afghanistan.

“The review states that the United States is clearly communicating a “commitment to a long-term relationship that is supportive of Pakistan’s interests.” I disagree. In fact, the review sends mixed messages to Pakistan about U.S. plans for Afghanistan and obscures the areas in which U.S. and Pakistani interests collide.

Pakistani military and intelligence leaders will see that U.S. military progress is so far “fragile and reversible,” that Washington is open to some sort of “Afghan-led reconciliation” (negotiations with the Taliban), and that July 2011 will mark the beginning of a “responsible reduction” of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. They will easily interpret these findings as they have in the past: the U.S. is not yet establishing enduring security conditions in Afghanistan, Washington is looking for quick political way out of its quagmire, and Pakistan will have to face a messy post-NATO Afghanistan armed primarily with the influence of its proxy militants.”

The US media is as paranoid about Pakistan as General Patreus who has an incentive to blame Pakistan. The reason Mullen and Petraeus and party blame Pakistan is to hide their own incompetence and impotence in Afghanistan.

Like Markey Richard Haas wants to reduce US forces in Afghanistan “The next policy review, upcoming this spring, should call for reducing U.S. forces to 30,000 by mid-2012. That’s the number that were there when President Obama took office. The U.S. should channel aid to provincial leaders as well as to (and through) the government in Kabul. The U.S. should continue to train and arm friendly government and regional soldiers, but U.S. combat operations should become increasingly rare.

There is a good chance that the Taliban would make significant inroads in the south and east of the country under such a strategy—although there is a good chance they will make inroads regardless”


Review Won’t Alter Pakistan’s Behavior, December 16, 2010
Author: Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia

WSJ: Another Unsurge.


Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: