e-Ariana - Todays Afghan News
 Home 
 News 
 Articles 
 Cartoons 
 Feedback 
 Opinion  
 Contact Us  
 An Ariana Media Publication 07/23/2014
 Exit with no strategy

The Guardian
05/22/2012
By Kevin Baron

[Printer Friendly Version]

It is disingenuous to claim, as Barack Obama did at the Nato conference in Chicago, that in two years, when US troops have ended their combat role in Afghanistan, the war "as we understand it" will be over. First, the US military has never understood what it was doing in Afghanistan, still less whom it was fighting, as one of its fallen stars, General Stanley McChrystal, admitted last year. He never resolved the contradictions inherent in conducting a counter-terrorist campaign and building a viable state, without which territorial gains were worthless. The state-building agenda has been quietly shelved since Gen McChrystal's days, but this does not lessen the failure. Second, with Nato bolting for the exit door, it is not within Washington's power to declare the war over. That can only be done by Afghans who see that peace has come.

The least one can expect of a president who prolonged Afghan suffering by ordering a surge of troops to finish the job, is that he has something that could be dignified with the name of an exit strategy. But, as Henry Kissinger acidly observed, the exit strategy has become all exit and no strategy. He is right in more than one sense. On the tactical level, the Nato conference finessed the French insistence on pulling its troops out this year, with private assurances that their combat mission has stopped anyway, that France may continue its training mission, and that it will take longer than the end of this year to withdraw most of the 3,200 troops and their kit. But these do not address the substance of the argument, which is as valid in Mr Obama's America as it is in François Hollande's France: that no one can see what the continued presence of foreign combat troops is doing.

The picture darkens further on the strategic level. Speed is now of the essence: war fatigue (a poll conducted in April showed that 69% of Americans wanted their troops out now), the imminence of the US presidential election, increasing Afghan hostility to the international military presence, the rise of "green on blue" shootings this year, the lack of mutual trust between Hamid Karzai and Mr Obama all point in the same direction. If the US military failed at the height of the surge in rebuilding infrastructure through its provincial reconstruction teams, the idea that the opposite force will produce the same result – that the prospect of a withdrawal of US troops will force a weak state to become stronger – is just as fanciful.

The more rapidly 2014 approaches, the sharper the contrast will become between airy aspiration and gritty realities on the ground. And yet the prospects of an "irreversible" transition from a foreign-led combat mission to an Afghan one depend more than ever on results, not statements or hopes. Mr Karzai may claim that soon 75% of the population will come under the protection of local forces, but the ability of Afghan forces to stand on their own remains unproven theory rather than established fact. Those are the words of Ronald Neumann, a former US ambassador in Kabul, not ours. Doing nothing to staunch the combat while troops are being withdrawn, the exit strategy amounts to little more than firing the same volley of bullets through a longer barrel. On this point alone, the statement issued by the Taliban is right: one step forward, two steps backward and no clear strategy for a political solution. It is only when the Taliban commanders held in Guantánamo Bay are handed over, that the next paragraph in their statement can be tested: that if the occupation of Afghanistan is ended "Afghans can reach a resolution regarding their country".

Getting from a jihad run in the name of an Islamic emirate to a power-sharing agreement with an Afghan government that retains control of Kabul and most of the country will require negotiating resources that no Afghan leader has lived long enough to accomplish. The Taliban show no signs of being forced to the negotiating table. And the US shows no signs of abandoning the good fight, even though it has long since turned bad.

Back to Top



Other Stories:


Has Afghan election fraud controversy been defused?
The Christian Science Monitor (06/25/2014)

Moscow’s Afghan Endgame
The Diplomat (06/25/2014)

Apologize to people, MPs asks Abdullah
Pajhwok (06/25/2014)

The Men Who Run Afghanistan
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

After Karzai
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

IEC secretary announces resignation
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

IECC spurns Abdullah’s claim; hails UN intervention
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

Afghan election crisis: 'stuffed sheep' recordings suggest large-scale fraud
The Guardian (06/23/2014)

Foreign spies trading on poll crisis: People
Pajhwok (06/22/2014)

Election commission office closed in Kunduz due to security threats
Khaama Press (06/22/2014)

Afghan Leader Backs U.N. Election Role
The New York Times (06/21/2014)

Tensions mount over Afghan vote, protest held in Kabul
Reuters (06/21/2014)

Hundreds protest alleged Afghan election fraud
The Associated Press (06/21/2014)

Afghan Presidential Election Takes Dangerous Turn
The Huffington Post (06/21/2014)

20,000 Heratis being sent to Iran for work
Pajhwok (12/27/2013)

At Kabul airport, exodus of U.S. aid goes on
The Washington Post (12/27/2013)

Haqqani Network leaders sexually abuse teenager boys
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Unemployment, Crime Rising Ahead Of Troop Pullout
Tolo (12/27/2013)

British army head warns Taliban could retake key territory in south
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Election Officials Emphasize Impartial Surveys
Tolo (12/27/2013)

A Complete US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Be 'A Complete Catastrophe' For Civilian Aid
Reuters (12/27/2013)

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014
NPR (12/27/2013)

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia Are the World's Most Corrupt Countries, With China in the Middle
businessweek.com (12/04/2013)

Poetry of Betrayal: Afghan Elections and Transitional Justice
Beacon Reader (10/25/2013)

Couple beheaded in Helmand province for having love affair
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

US senator says no aid for Afghanistan unless security deal finalized
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

Would-be child bombers detained: NDS
Pajhwok (10/25/2013)

Afghanistan
PJ (10/24/2013)

The Afghan dead find a list
Inter Press Service (10/24/2013)

10 runners shortlisted in 2014 presidential race
Pajhwok (10/24/2013)


Back to Top