Jan 27, 2010

An unwinnable war

Rizwan Asghar

President Obama will not be able to win the war in Afghanistan but he could save his country from a disgraceful defeat. However, so far President Obama has based his strategy on the dictates of a warlike strategy.

The violence in Afghanistan is on the rise. On Dec 29, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released figures demonstrating that Afghan civilian deaths rose to 2,038 in the first ten months of 2009, from 1,838 during the same period in 2008.

The US is sending at least 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan. The decision reflects the Obama administration's short sightedness and failure to focus on the pragmatic solutions. Observers and analysts believe that troop reinforcements will not help defeat the Taliban. The chairman of the Laghman Provincial Council commented that "when the commander in Kabul asked Obama for extra troops, he knew the US would end up with one achievement, and that is more civilian causalities." Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR's president, in 1985 also ordered the built-up of Soviet troops in Afghanistan to 140,000 and asked his generals to win the war within a year.

Recently it has been decided that the Obama administration is sending 1,000 more US civilian experts to the country to help in the so-called reconstruction projects. But the history of the last eight years of the Afghan war shows that such efforts have invariably come to naught because of corruption and inefficient management of the projects.

The US has spent a huge amount of money since 2002 to improve Afghanistan's electrical grid, but there is no improvement because of poor oversight by the authorities concerned. In this way the task of nation-building remained unfulfilled to a large degree.

The world outside America perceives Obama's polices as essentially a continuation of the past and it is being claimed that Obama has acceded to the demands of the US military establishment and warrior pundits. The period of eighteen months is long enough to damage Obama's presidency. Today Obama's approval rating has fallen to the discouraging level of 47 per cent. With every passing day the situation is deteriorating and more and more Americans are coming home in flag-draped coffins.

Obama is trying to win a losing war and which no invader from Alexander the Great to Soviet Russia could win. The forces of history are bound to succeed this time again. The war in Afghanistan is not only unwinnable but its prolongation is detrimental to US national security. For American troops it is time to move away from their infatuation with war and go back before they bring the US down to dust. Perhaps it will not be wrong to say at this time that history is not on Obama's side.

After eight years of bloodshed and strife, Afghanistan remains an incubator for terrorists and a haven for Al Qaeda recruits. Afghanistan is a primitive country that seriously lacks basic infrastructure, sanitation, transportation and a modern communication system. The educational system of the country is in a shambles as a result of three decades of incessant warfare. Without foreign support the Afghan forces cannot pose even a semblance of resistance to the Taliban onslaught.

If Obama does not change his course of action immediately on the Afghan front the day is not far when he will not only lose the war in Afghanistan but also lose the confidence of his people. President Obama need not be fearful of being tagged as a weak president and has to seriously think about the phased withdrawal of his weary troops from Afghanistan to assume the mantle of a sensible leader.

No comments:

Post a Comment