Afghanistan, Though Ragtag, Keeps Humbling Superpowers

by Paul I. Adujie

The presence of Western nations in Afghanistan is not about Afghans or Afghanistan.

It is all about the strategic geographical location which Afghanistan is. It is about a trade route. It is about Afghanistan a is hemispheric strategic route placement in the heart of Asia and Asia Minor. It is a window into the Middle East, China, Russia, Iran, India, and Pakistan. It is all about tussles and positioning for the superpowers.

Western nations are merely in a balance of power struggle with Russia and China. Western nations in these effort, is led by the United States and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, is seeking to maintain a strategic advantage over Russia and more recently, China. Strategic advantages which includes oil and natural gas pipelines, sea lanes, which in turn confer tangible and intangible advantages in several ways. There is military advantage through the occupation of Afghanistan, and then, many more can be accomplished by western nations through their mere presence there.

It is not about vaunted elimination, decimation and liquidation of Al Qaeda Taliban etc or liberation and uplift for gender equality for oppressed Afghan women. It is not about infrastructure building for Afghans! American -NATO forays into Afghanistan is not about nation building; and, further, it must also be realized and stated that, NATO’s forays into Afghanistan, is neither about free and fair elections, politically independent and sovereign Afghanistan for its own sake. Not very many people are deceived by the public grandstanding over Afghan elections and the vigorous public doubt of President Hamid Karzai, the defacto client of US and allies.

President Karzai seem asserting himself more, as he has become more and more confident, pragmatic and independent of his American handlers. Perhaps upon his realization that western nations have no altruistic interest in Afghanistan. There is a discernable distance between American government and her Afghan counterpart. Certain pronouncements and actions by the United States about the insurgency, the much talked about election impasse, have helped to complicate Afghan-American relations. It is as if there are efforts to undermine Hamid Karzai as a product credible democracy and credible elections without legitimacy questions. The recent departure by a high-ranking with the United Nations Afghan efforts is indicative of these persisting frictions within Afghanistan. There have been recent talks by Washington, in which there will be some sorts of power-sharing with elements in the Taliban insurgent groups. It is all about how Afghanistan can be exploited and used for the benefit of Western nations in the completion with all others. Will the Americans and NATO do deals with the devil in order to reach certain outcomes? Are western nations about humanize the Taliban by removing Taliban’s devil toga? It is the case that Western nations are fixated at their self-interests and as a consequence of such an attitude, the end, justifies the means.

Superpowers have been and remain disdainful of Afghan nationalism. Afghanistan has never been colonized in the pure sense of colonialism. Every empire which sought to colonize Afghanistan has met her Waterloo in the hands of Afghans. The presence of superpowers in Afghanistan is imperialistic and no favors to Afghans and Afghans know.

Western nations have equally become very disdainful of Pakistanis nationalism, which complicated the role of proxy insurgent fighter, on behalf of westerners. And the recent hostage crisis at high profile Pakistani military installation and the increased spate of suicide bombing in Pakistan, may eventually push Pakistan into an extreme spectrum. Meanwhile, the insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan remain intricately interwoven and interconnected.

Too much blood sweat and treasure have been squandered by superpowers in the forays into Afghanistan. In 1979 the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the USSR entered Afghanistan and the United States was stridently critical and vociferous in criticizing the Soviets. The United States engaged proxies in efforts of to frustrate the Soviets out of Afghanistan. The US entered into multiple expediencies of marriages of convenience with the dictatorship of General Zia Ul Haq who was at that time Pakistan political tyrant.
The US in even more desperate efforts against the soviets employed the services of a clerical group, named the so-called “Holy Warriors” The Mujahideen. President Ronald Reagan celebrated The Mujahideen of which the Taliban are off-shoot, as freedom fighters! Ronald Reagan was of course a literal and metaphorical cowboy-president. And through domestic and foreign policies, cantankerous and combative cowboy attitude was discernable from ten thousand miles.

The late Ronald Reagan was notorious as a war mongering president and he engaged in imperialistic competitions of the most vicious types. And so, America was directly and through proxies, fighting wars in Afghanistan, Angola, Iran, Beirut, Nicaragua, Grenada, Honduras and Colombia etc. Since then, the Holy Warring Mujahideen has metastasized into hydra-headed anti American war machine. It is now ever expanding and morphing insurgencies. This anti American battle-tested war machine is alternately Taliban, and some others, in lose arrangements with their symbiotic cousin conglomerate Al Qaeda. This war machine remains elusively dangerous and experienced. Ronald Reagan’s Holy Warriors or Mujahideen has since become festooned with all the unintended consequences! The chickens have come home to roost. And shortsighted policies guided by selfish expediencies have become unpalatable in various ways.

The Ottoman Turks Empire, the British Empire, the Russian Empire have all be humbled and even humiliated by the sturdy warriors of Afghanistan during the preceding 100 years. The American Empire seem to be next in line, for defeat, trouncing and eventual humiliations.

America’s power is constrained. Constrained by wars and depleting resources and this is mostly because America had in recent years overreached and overplayed her hand militarily globally and that, coupled with the current worldwide economic meltdown which in fact, sprouted and germinated in America and was spread to the entire world

There seem a waning of interests and a stomach among the American public for more squander of blood and treasure into an open-ended war in Afghanistan. The American public is veering out of favor with the war against the Taliban. A war which is getting bloodier and more costly in terms of deaths of American troops, as well as increasing financial drain and strain on the American economy, particularly so, as unemployment has reached ten percent and the economy and domestic policies have become more pressing and urgent for the average American.

The public and even the presidency seem divided and torn between upping the ante, through the commitment of more troops and other resources into the Afghan war. Arguably with the hope of some sorts of victory, however defined? Or, with an eye to redefined mission and what is in fact, victory in Afghanistan is or will become. The United States may henceforth, withdraw from Afghanistan in measured and staggered manner. A precipitous troop withdrawal is not seen or forecast. But an abbreviated presence and departure has become an attractive alternative, in view of the ambivalence arising from an ill defined victory and or exit strategy. And fiscal realities and war fatigue are factors now pressuring the presidency. President Obama as candidate advocated the Afghanistan war as the just war, the right war. President Obama has been in announced national security meeting with his “War Council” for an extended period of time now, will he commit more troop or will he “cut and run” as some may interpret an abrupt or sudden decline of troops?

President Obama is apparently in a bind. As the test now become whether the president would and should

be faithful to his forceful campaign rhetoric? His Afghan war prescriptions were very convincing to the American public, only less than a year ago. Or should Mr. Obama follow the route of realpolitik, while redefining the war and declare victory, thereby, stopping the American hemorrhage, physical and fiscal? More and more American troops have been killed in the past couple of months. And the American troops commander General McChrystal, has, in General McArthur-like manner, let it be known publicly, that he needed additional 40,000 troops. Will President Obama refuse or neglect this request for additional personnel and materiel?

Can President Obama win a public spat with General Stanley A. McChrystal and his supporters, in these matters of the general’s requests for additional troops and materiel? Can Mr. Obama afford appearing as if he is getting in the way of the general, by denying him the resources he says he needs to complete the assignment given to him by a commander-in-chief, who now says no, to the general’s needs?

Can President Obama afford to disregard requests by military commanders on the ground and in the theatre of war? Can Mr. Obama do that and be seen as departing from his campaign points and promises, while undermining any victory as is already argued by some? Should President Obama redefine and the war and declare victory? Could it be more advantageous for President Obama to argue, that it is more cost efficient and cost effective to fight the so-called war on terrorism, through the heightened defense of the American homeland? A policy which focuses on guarding and securing the homeland, through which the over-extended and over-stretched American military can have some respite?

Thousands of Americans troops have been deployed to multiple duty tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, during the preceding eight years. Too many Americans have been killed, maimed and disfigured in these two wars which remain open-ended in all practical sense. America is also blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and this have not made managing these wars any easier the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan respectively. The local populations in these countries are restive and remain deeply suspicious of Americans and their western nations, suspicions, borne out past experiences.

Is America ready for a woeful defeat in Afghanistan, just as other empires before America were humiliated in Afghanistan? Is America in the alternative ready to commit troops and resources endlessly and bankrupt America, without discernable benefits?

Is President Obama willing to allow his action or inaction or a combination of both, make Afghanistan into his Vietnam?
As some are already seeing a harbinger of Vietnam-like debacle and quagmire? Afghan will remain unconquered by any empires as America is constrained militarily and economically?

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