Losing Afghanistan (It Can’t Be Won)

The Taliban hanged Najibullah, the last Soviet-backed Afghan president, in the streets of Kabul in 1996

This from my op ed in The National earlier this week:

Back in April, Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, dodged a bullet. A fusillade of them, actually, plus a few rocket-propelled grenades, when a ceremony he was addressing came under Taliban attack in the heart of Kabul. Nato spin-doctors immediately dismissed the incident as a case of the Taliban getting lucky. Such increased reliance on terror attacks, they insisted, were signs that the Taliban had grown desperate, having been forced onto the back foot by effective Western counterinsurgency.

Similar sentiments were expressed last week – a week in which Britain’s casualty toll for its Afghan mission passed 100 – after Taliban fighters attacked Kandahar prison and freed 400 of their comrades, and began to take control of a string of villages around the southern city that had once been their spiritual capital.

No amount of wishful thinking can hide the reality, however, that six and a half years after the US-led military intervention that scattered the Taliban, the presence of some 50,000 Nato troops has not prevented the movement from regrouping and mounting a resurgence that has sabotaged plans to rebuild the country on Western-friendly terms.

There may have been a symbolic irony in the April assassination attempt on Karzai: it occurred during a speech to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the fall of Najibullah, the leader of the last Soviet client regime in Kabul, who was butchered when the Taliban arrived. Because Karzai’s situation is not unlike that Najibullah’s…

Click here to read more

This entry was posted in Situation Report and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Losing Afghanistan (It Can’t Be Won)

  1. peter says:

    Ok Tony, No argument with your analysis – but what to do next? That is the question

  2. Bernard Chazelle says:

    I wish someone would ask the presidential candidates, “Why are we in Afghanistan?” I bet they don’t know the answer.

    It’s certainly not terrorism.
    Pakistan still remains the best place for would-be terrorists to train. (Although… maybe some day, someone will explain to me why the caves of Wajiristan are the best places to learn how to hijack airplanes or bomb subways, but I digress.)

    NATO’s presence seems straight out of a Dino Buzzati novel. They probably wake up every morning thinking, “What the hell I am doing here?”

    History books will note that the world’s mightiest military organization, NATO, fought only one war in its existence. And it lost it!

    My hunch is that the main justification for the war in Afghanistan is to weaken Russia and avoid Central Asia to be cut up into two spheres of influence, Russian and Chinese.

    Only 1 minor disagreement with Tony. Pakistan’s support for the Taliban is only secondarily related to India.
    The Taliban has (I guess, technically, one should really say “have”) been heavily Pakistanized since the US moved in. Its real support is Waziristan, a region that one day could secede from Pakistan. Islamabad is allowing that relationship to flourish as a way of placating its tribal regions. (Actually, every time its army tried to impose its will, it got thoroughly beaten.)

  3. Javed Khan says:

    All those who have ever invaded Afghanistan know, that all roads lead to Afghatinan but none out of it.

  4. Anderson says:

    “Why are we in Afghanistan?”

    Because if we leave, the Taliban will control 75% of the country rather than 25%, and Karzai will be the one dangling over the street.

    I didn’t say there was a *good* answer, but that’s the answer.

  5. Shlomo says:

    Afghanistan is actually not Iraq. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, we actually do have popular support. Not to say that the people there love America, but they also don’t love the Taliban.

    Just compare the recent offensives in Kandahar, Pashawir, and Sadr City. The Taliban massed troops in Kandahar and Pashawir last week, but both these invasions failed. In neither did they have strong popular support. In this sense it is different from Iraq. In Iraq, when the U.S. invaded Sadr City, the Mehdi Army had the support of the local population and had “home field.”

    Also, a lot of the reason the Taliban were gaining in Afghanistan was that they had a base in Pakistan. This was because Musharraf had been following the Zia al-Haq model of statebuilding, and rigging elections so MMA won despite having under 30% support in Waziristan. As Musharraf has lost power and actual real elections have taken place, this dynamic is changing against the Pakistani Taliban. This undermines a key base of support for Afghani Taliban.

    The only question is whether it’s enough. To me, it seems very much up in the air.

  6. Jorge from Bloomington says:

    Goodness. It just dawned on me. Is it possible that the Afghan government is helping to hide bin Laden to keep the U.S. in country?

  7. This is a very distressing scenario. The Afghan government is torn between their ideals and having to deal with extremists.

  8. collares says:

    http://xn--joyera-7va.biz Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time 🙂

  9. History books will note that the world’s mightiest military organization, NATO, fought only one war in its existence. And it lost it!

  10. Black Friday Online Deals Ads 2011

  11. Very Nice Tony Karon.

  12. Great article! We are linking to this great content on our site.
    Keep up the good writing.

  13. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact ordered me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU
    for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your blog.

  14. Kaylee says:

    My brother recommended I would possibly like this
    web site. He was once entirely right. This put up truly made my day.
    You cann’t believe simply how so much time
    I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  15. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was once a amusement account it. Glance complicated to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep in touch?|

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *