- Politics and Social Issues
US Retreat from Afghanistan- Halted but for how Long?
The Retreat from Afghanistan will just change the Frontier
Afghanistan is a country that has only been subdued twice in its history. The first time was when Alexander the great invaded Afghanistan and subdued the tribes. Alexander was ruthless and the Greeks were masters of modern Afghanistan.
The second occasion was when the Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa conquered the Afghans and created fear in their minds in his campaign from 1830-37 The British fought three Afghan wars and at the best their hold was tenuous.Later the Russians failed as they came up against the Muslim extremists who were supported by the USA. In case the USA had not sided with the Muslim extremists the Russians may well have won. The genesis of the present conflict lies in the support and creation of the Taliban by the USA.
The Concept of Rambo
Rambo is a soldier warrior created by Hollywood who ostensibly fights evil. In one of the movies, Rambo is shown fighting the Russians along with the Taliban. In fact there is a caption( now Removed) that says the movie is a tribute to the brave Taliban who are fighting for freedom.
One cannot fathom how the USA think tank could not look beyond their nose and realize that extremist Islam or the Wahhabi elements can never be friends of America.
US Entry into the War
After the attack on the twin towers, George Bush declared war on terror. But at best it was a half heart affair as Bush decided to settle personal scores by attacking Hussein of Iraq. The result was 4000 young Americans were sent to death and a Phyrric victory achieved. But the war in Afghanistan suffered and by the time the USA turned its attention to the extremists, the golden moment had been lost.
War in Afghanistan
The USA has completed 11 years of Afghanistan and victory is as elusive as catching an eel in one's hand. The US armed forces could not crush the Taliban and despite taking out Osama bin Laden, the USA failed to catch the other Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
President Obama is a pragmatist and given the American peoples aversion to fighting a war away from home, he decided that enough is enough and announced a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan by end 2014. It was in effect an admission of defeat and one can draw a similar parallel with Vietnam.
America has now decided to withdraw from Afghanistan and there is the fond hope that the after the withdrawal the Karzai government or the man who succeeds him with the help of armed and trained troops by the US army will be able to hold its own against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. This reminds me of Vietnam when the same thoughts went through the mind of Nixon. The result was catastrophic as the US-backed South Vietnam government collapsed in no time and the entire state was unified with North Vietnam.
This is a religious war- a Jihad
But here the similarity ends as the battle in Vietnam was not a religious war and now the Vietnamese are welcoming Americans as tourists and investors. The war in Afghanistan is a religious war where the hard-line Islamic groups have branded America as the 'Great Satan'. An American withdrawal from Afghanistan will not end the war between the Islamic groups and the USA, only the frontier will be changed closer to American shores.
The reason is not far to seek as most Muslims in the Middle East are not too enamored of America. Iran is breathing fire and hard-line Islamic groups in Pakistan routinely denounce the USA. Many Americans have been beheaded in this war. Retreating from Afghanistan will just mean changing the goal post and making it closer to America.
A religious war is different from a normal war. Here the religious zeal however misplaced is the driving force. In particular, the dream as enunciated in the Koran of beautiful virgins for the Jihad groups adds its own connotation to this conflict.
Retreat will not solve anything
The US think tank must understand that a retreat from Afghanistan will not solve America's problems. The coordinated attacks all over Afghanistan are a pointer. Karzai had to go into hiding. This happened when NATO and the USA are very much there. Once they exit, the hard-line Militant groups will take over in no time. that will be the signal to shift the war to another frontier.
A new president is taking over in Afghanistan, but it's doubtful whether he will be able to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
With Obama in for a second term and his earlier track record of opposing the war on terror as a senator, this retreat from Afghanistan may spell something really bad for the USA
Trump trying to Change the Result
Obama's exit has led to a resurgence of the will to stay and fight in Afghanistan. Trump and Mattis must be given credit for it. There is an induction of troops but the ground situation has not changed and Trump will have to think hard how to turn the tables in Afghanistan. It's not easy.