Saturday, September 26, 2009

US Success in Afghanistan Becomes Grim

These days American politicians, think-tanks, newspapers, and journals are giving more importance to the Afghan war than to the one in Iraq. The debate on the Afghan war heated up after the recent analysis of General Stanley McChrystal, in which he said that the Afghan war was a difficult situation, but not impossible for the Americans to win. However, America will have to come up with a new policy for Afghanistan, in which the protection of Afghan civilians from the Taliban should be a number one priority.
According to General Stanley, rebuilding peoples' trust in the state is as important as protecting the civilian population from Taliban attacks. He is in favor of a dialogue with the Taliban, as well as increasing American troops in Afghanistan. General Stanley says that 60 per cent of the Taliban can be neutralized by offering them jobs.
Impact on US National Political Scene
Another senior American politician and former National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as US President Barack Obama's advisor for international relations during his election campaign, has warned that if the American government does not make long lasting changes in its Afghan policy, America will meet the same fate in Afghanistan as the Soviet Union did. These analyses and opinions expressed by American politicians and commanders are being presented at a time when 51 per cent Americans feel there is no justification for fighting the Afghan war, while only 48 per cent think that President Obama was making the right decisions in Afghanistan. These opposing views and negative analyses originating from American politicians and commanders are having an impact on the American national political scene. This has raised a lot of questions for President Obama.
There are chances that support for the Afghan war in his own Democratic Party will go down and, that, he may have to rely on the opposition to send more troops to Afghanistan. The main factors which are increasing problems for Obama over the Afghan war include growing unpopularity of this war among the American public, a rising death toll of American troops, deterioration of the American economy; and lack of trust in the Afghan government by the Afghan masses and American policy-makers. Reports about election rigging in the recent Presidential polls have further lowered this trust.
Support for Afghan War
Support for the Afghan war among the Democratic Party has also gone down due to the absence of a timetable for the exit of American troops from Afghanistan, and a slow pace in training the Afghan National Army. Senior leaders in the Democratic Party, among them Senator Carl Levin, are pressurizing President Obama to ensure a clear training program for the Afghan Army before sending more American troops to Afghanistan.
The total strength of the current Afghan army is 134,000 and a deadline of 2012 has been fixed to take it up to 250,000. American politicians, analysts and intellectuals, all seem to be divided into two groups at the moment. One group believes that American troops in Afghanistan should be reduced and the war should be fought by using Predator Drone jets and other modern technology, while keeping a few soldiers on the ground. The other group believes that it would be impossible to win the Afghan war without the presence of American troops in Afghanistan. It believes it is imperative to increase American troops in Afghanistan to win the Afghan war.
Rise of Taliban
The rise in bloody attacks by the Taliban, despite additional American troops and an increase in the Afghan National Army, are a source of concern for Washington and a crucial test for American political leadership. Despite a regular increase in American troops, the activities of the Taliban have not slowed down.
So, what guarantee is there that the Taliban could be controlled with an increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan? The group that opposes American exit from Afghanistan believes that such a move will not only adversely affect Afghanistan's security, but will also destabilize Pakistan and open up new hide-outs for Al Qaida in Pakistan's Tribal Areas.
Despite the increase in bloody attacks by the Taliban, the decrease in the production of opium in Afghanistan could definitely be used as a positive argument for continued American stay in Afghanistan. According to some American analysts, which include Seth Jones of the Rand Corporation, the major cause of failure of American policies in Afghanistan during the past eight years was Washington's over emphasis on setting up a strong central government in Kabul. Whereas Max Boot, of the Council on Foreign Relations, believes that America needs 660,000 soldiers in Afghanistan to defeat the Afghan Taliban, which is an unachievable target. However, this target could be achieved by recruiting a traditional army which is only possible if Washington forgets about concentrating all its energies on forming a strong central government in Kabul. Rather, it should focus on strengthening and organizing the various Afghan tribes in keeping with their local customs, is prepared to delegate authority and involve local communities in the process of development.
US Afghan Policy
The major benefit of this approach will be to decrease support for the Taliban among the local population, bearing in mind that it would be impossible to defeat the Taliban without the support of trained, armed and organized local groups. It is difficult to say to what extent this debate will affect America's Afghan policy.
However, one thing is certain that possible changes in America's regional policies are increasing with each passing day. Efforts are going on behind-the scenes to this effect. Some Afghan diplomats have also become active in this regard. We will talk about them next time.

No comments: