Can West avoid Russias fate in Afghanistan?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jan 2, 2010.

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  1. From The Sunday Times
    January 3, 2010
    Can West avoid Russia's fate in Afghanistan?
    After the Soviets left defeated, a war hero from the SAS and one from the Red Army say the same mistakes are being made

    The white flashes of explosions and red traces of artillery fire filled the moonlit sky on the night of October 7, 2001, as Britain and the US launched the war in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

    From the roof of a mud-caked house in Tobdara, a mountainside village high above the Shomali valley, 30 miles north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, I watched as allied war planes and cruise missiles streaked beyond a high ridge separating us from the front line.

    Loud explosions echoed into the night as I was joined by a group of hardened Northern Alliance fighters, the loose coalition of former mujaheddin rebels who had sided with the West. Armed with AK-47 machine guns and careful not to use even a torch to avoid attracting incoming fire from an enemy position above, the men had come to witness the twilight of the Taliban.

    “It won’t take long,” predicted one, wrapped in an Afghan blanket and wearing a pakol, the woollen round-topped hat favoured by the mujaheddin. “The Taliban are finished. A few days of heavy bombardment and then we’ll go in with a ground assault. They’ll either flee or die.”

    His confidence was engaging. But in the dusty plains below there were many reminders of another superpower’s bloody attempt to wage war in Afghanistan. Soviet tanks and armoured personnel carriers, burnt out and twisted, still littered the country, more than two decades after Moscow had withdrawn its troops, ending its disastrous nine-year war.

    In the shadow of the Taliban front line, a few miles below Tobdara, the Bagram air base was overgrown and abandoned. The spot from where the Soviets launched their invasion in 1979, it is now the US army’s largest base in the country.

    The mujaheddin’s predictions did not take long to come true. Five weeks later Kabul fell. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were on the run, dispersed in the high mountains along the border with Pakistan. His optimism, however, proved premature. More than eight years since the war began in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Taliban have made a comeback.

    Over 240 British soldiers have been killed in the war (more than in Iraq), many in ferocious close combat that has been compared to the trench warfare of the first world war. By the end of this year, American and British forces will have been in Afghanistan as long as the Soviets. And yet Russia’s experience in the country has been largely overlooked by the allies. It was, say American and British generals, a different war fought in different times by a different army.
  2. msr

    msr LE

    Those who forget history....
  3. Americas backdoor friends eventually become their front door enemies

  4. No…
  5. Yes.
    We give in!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  6. The last person to win anything in that part of the world was called Genhkis Khan,and he used an extreme form of population control.
  7. Just cause we're playing on the same pitch doesnt mean its the same team
  8. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    Thoughtful article, nothing to add. HMG could do a lot worse than hire this Russian as a special advisor (though of course, that will never happen.)
  9. Russia was fighting a very different enemy than we are today. The Russians were fighting a much larger insurgency which was also better equipped and trained.

    Almost all of the fighting in Afghanistan today is in the Southern and Eastern parts of the country. Russia was fighting basically in every region of Afghanistan except the cities.
  10. Please go read the Latest in Afghaninstan thread that is years old..... and come tell me you think we're only fighting in the East and South. As for a 'different' enemy... not really. They are still Islamic fun-mentalists, homegrown and foreign, being funded and equipped by outside countries. Only thing 'different' is who is supplying who with what.

    If you think we are fighting a smaller insurgency than the Russians.... you're in for a big surprise in the next 12-18 months.

    Answer to the Thread Title: No hope in hell of 'winning'. We'll be out of Afghan in 18-24 months, whats more is we'll be one of the last to leave. Willing to put money it. ;)
  11. Sadly UNAMA did have an ex Russian diplomat as senior advisor for pillar 2 ,but took no notice of him....he advised against elections, a lot of the mess we are in is as a direct result of the west forcing western values on Afghans along with idiots like Galbraith and Eide..........
  12. Anyone with a glimer of historical knowledge can see that we are making the same mistakes as we did in the three previous Afghan Wars.This time though it is the failure of US policy in the 80s that is the cause, and as for insurgancy, what insurgency, we are now fighting the Afghan people themselves the Talabann are the Afghan people, our political leaders are just useing names to try to legalise the fact that we are an occupation force, there only to plunder their country of resources and give access to the central Asian oilfields
  13. Should have let the Russians have it, with the break up of communism the country would have probably had an infrastructure, farming and different alleigences.

    Well done Western politics - again
  14. 1. It is a nonsensical conceit for the armchair audience that no-one is taking any notice of the Russian experience or indeed previous history in Afghanistan. You can't move for copies of the Russian General Staff papers and interviews with Mujahideen. There is also a misunderstanding that there is some desire to 'win' whatever that means. The aim is to enable Afghanistan to establish a stable government which does not harbour or train international terrorism. If that Government happens to include or even be a reformed Taliban, which respects human rights, then OK.

    2. Taliban 2009 are not the muj. Nor are they the same as TB 1996-2001. Agree that they increasingly represent the Afghan people, if you define Afghans as Pashtuns with some Baluch support. But in the area of UK interest, fair comment (whole area for discussion in there). Nonetheless the current Taliban have less national relevance than the Muj did, and also lack the scale of international support which was available. (This is the point I think Gen Dutton was trying to make, dealt with in a different thread)

    3. Not for me to take anything away from Brig Butler's outstanding service, but Helmand was probably not its high point, and ultimately led to the end of his career. What he says always has great value, but read it through the filter of the odd personal motive.
  15. It is a very good article.