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Fall back, men, Afghanistan is a nasty war we can never win

#1
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/simon_jenkins/article3295340.ece

From The Sunday TimesFebruary 3, 2008

Fall back, men, Afghanistan is a nasty war we can never win
Britain’s commanders ignored every warning that the Taliban were the toughest fighters on earthSimon Jenkins
The American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, flies to Britain this week to meet a crisis entirely of London and Washington’s creation. They have no strategy for the continuing occupation of Afghanistan. They are hanging on for dear life and praying for something to turn up. Britain is repeating the experience of Gordon in Khartoum, of the Dardanelles, Singapore and Crete, of politicians who no longer read history expecting others to die for their dreams of glory.

Every independent report on the Nato-led operation in Afghanistan cries the same message: watch out, disaster beckons. Last week America’s Afghanistan Study Group, led by generals and diplomats of impeccable credentials, reported on “a weakening international resolve and a growing lack of confidence”. An Atlantic Council report was more curt: “Make no mistake, Nato is not winning in Afghanistan.” The country was in imminent danger of becoming a failed state.

A clearly exasperated Robert Gates, the American defence secretary, has broken ranks with the official optimism and committed an extra 3,000 marines to the field, while sending an “unusually stern” note to Germany demanding that its 3,200 troops meet enemy fire. Germany, like France, has rejected that plea. Yet it is urgent since the Canadians have threatened to withdraw from the south if not relieved. An equally desperate Britain is proposing to send half-trained territorials to the front, after its commanders ignored every warning that the Taliban were the toughest fighters on earth.
More on ther link
 
#5
You cant win a guerilla war simple, the media are proper cnuts, Taliban toughest fighters on earth?? even the yanks are having success. I know journos read this now stop posting shit and get some good headlines up for the lads abraod
 
Z

Zarathustra

Guest
#6
I reckon the best way to succeed in Afghanistan is to win the locals over with recronstruction etc.

But we can't provide security for the reconstruction effort without getting rid of the Taliban. It's not going to be impossible to to defeat them but it's going to be harder and take longer than alot of people first thought.

I'll admit some of the Taliban are good, but the amount of times they've simply ran out of a village as soon as we've entered because they're scared proves they're not the fearless fighters most people think they are.
 
#7
I agree with Parris (who's all over the shop, having initially supported British military involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but he’s finally got it right). Leave the Yanks to stew in their own juice. It was Blair's war and Blair's gone. Time to finish undoing the damage he caused. Britain should never have invaded. Bush gains hugely valuable political cover from British involvement. Britain owes Bush nothing. He messed up post-invasion planning in both regions. He increased the likelihood of bombs going off on the London tube, so he's a threat to national security within our own borders (the first duty of a government to defend). Together with Blair he's managed to enrage and politicise a generation of young British Muslims. The only light on the horizon was Paddy Ashdown - who's been talking quiet sense, grounded in experience, about both regions for years - but it looks like the Yanks have torpedoed that. Utterly ridiculous. It was safer in Afghanistan and the people more prosperous under the Soviets. Plus less heroin was getting through to torment British sink estates. Get the boys out. Then hold a massive judicial inquiry under a fair-minded judge to stop similar games for a generation. Encourage Canada, Germany and the rest to do the same. Leave the Septic neocons high and dry in the spotlight of world opinion as they bomb poverty-stricken farmers attending wedding parties.
 
#8
He's right about the core issue in the Pashtun war:
...For the past two decades intelligence lore has held that nothing happens along the Afghan/Pakistan frontier without agencies of the Pakistan army being involved. The latter’s pro-Taliban strategy through the 1990s was based on its obsession with “defence in depth” against India. Pakistan wanted Afghanistan stable, friendly and medieval. The security of the Punjab rested on the containment of the Pashtun tribal lands straddling the Pakistan/ Afghanistan border.

George W Bush’s reckless elevation of Al-Qaeda after 2001 promoted a small group of alien Arab guests into global warriors for Islam. It also destroyed Islamabad’s hold over the Taliban. America bribed the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf with $1 billion a year to declare a U-turn and fight his former allies.

Musharraf duly broke his non-intervention treaty with the Pashtun and sent his army against them. The Taliban’s influence increases with every attack and with every American bombing of villages. The Pakistan army is suffering greater losses in this war than either the British or the Americans.

Wise heads in Islamabad know that they must withdraw from the border and restore respect for tribal autonomy. Nothing else will incline the Pashtun and other tribes to reject Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies. The alternative is a growing insurgency that must destabilise whatever democratic regime might emerge from this month’s Pakistan elections. That prospect is far worse than whatever fate might befall Afghanistan.
...
The situation in Waziristan is now critical. Our attention should be fixed on what improves the situation there. It's not just that our original quarry is there or the LOS but the wider affect on a now very unstable Pakistan that must be considered.

Ayaz Amir put across a Pakistani view recently in Thinking for ourselves:
...
Is Al Qaeda responsible for this state of affairs or our own folly? The British had perfected a way of handling these unruly and, it must be said, freedom-loving tribesmen through methods that were political in nature: a combination of guile, money, persuasion and the occasional use of force (force, if well-directed, becoming, according to Clausewitz, the continuation of politics by other means).

We inherited those methods and they served us well for almost 55 years. Then arrived the Americans and it is largely under the impact of the military options they forced down the throats of our senior commanders--much against the best instincts of those same commanders--that the two Waziristans have turned into hostile territory. A hundred thousand troops are now deployed against the Frontier Taliban and for all the good they are doing they needn't have been deployed at all.

The threat of 'terrorism' instead of diminishing has vastly increased. Much like Iraq where there was no Al Qaeda presence or threat prior to the American invasion. Now Iraq is the world's most advanced academy for all kinds of violence: another example of the fruits of wrath which grow when brute force is deployed without an underpinning of some measure of wisdom.

The United States, the mightiest power on earth, leads in so many things: science, invention, ingenuity, the mobilization of money etc. But its record in sympathizing with the forces of popular resistance, or its record in fighting guerrilla insurgencies, is not spectacular. If it has screwed up Iraq, which it definitely has, and if in years past it reaped disaster in Vietnam, what makes our military command think that by following its advice in our tribal areas we will be writing a new history?

In 2001 there may have been a few (a couple of hundred?) Arab/Chechen/Uzbek fighters or former fighters (and remember it is we and the CIA who sent them into Afghanistan to fight the Soviet army), but there was a way of dealing with their presence. We should have asked the tribes to resolve the problem instead of launching a military operation which far from doing any good turned what was admittedly a problem, but a passing one at that, into a full-blown catastrophe.
...
Pakistan is the cause of many of Afghanistan's problems; it must also be part of any solution. We do seem to be playing into the hands of malign elements in Islamabad. An ever heavier military foot print on both sides of Durand line may be unwise.

We should perhaps consider what our wiser forefathers learned the hard way on the Northwest Frontier: a policy of tribal diplomacy backed by the occasional punitive raid may be appropriate.
 
#9
A hundred thousand troops are now deployed against the Frontier Taliban and for all the good they are doing they needn't have been deployed at all.
Imagine how Osama's laughing. All that high-tech weaponry, all those post-doc pointy-heads crunching algorithms, all those tax-dollars, for what? To put a smile on Osama's face.
 
#10
I support the troops who do a great job but I recognise that strategically the whole mission is a fiasco. We will not win in any sense. And I fear it may get a lot worse. Those Taliban guys are tough.
 
#11
Jenkins' point in the Sunday Times is that the Pakistanis were doing a pretty decent job of managing the problem until the US paid Musharaff $1bn a year to turn on the warlords (who had previously kept a lid on things), and now we have the chaos.

We have to be cynical, pragmatic, realistic.................and where necessary, dishonest, vicious and cunning. The US learned that in Iraq - employ the Sunni militiamen to kill "Al and the gang". We'll learn the same thing in Afghanistan eventually.
 
#12
annakey said:
It was safer in Afghanistan and the people more prosperous under the Soviets.
Amongst the rest of your drivel I spotted this little gem. Care to try and back that one up with a fact or two?
 
#14
Actually, women had a much better time of it under the soviets. Communism doesn't do religion and they had more rights then, for example education, than they do under a western imposed democracy now.

Funny that??
 
#15
LEGZ30 said:
annakey said:
It was safer in Afghanistan and the people more prosperous under the Soviets.
Amongst the rest of your drivel I spotted this little gem. Care to try and back that one up with a fact or two?
Sure. I was informed of its truth a week ago last Saturday by an Afghan relative by marriage. I believe him. He's level headed, rational, clever, and speaks from direct experience. I was holding his baby daughter on my knee at the time.

OK, he's not Matthew Parris but, on the whole, I’d trust his opinion more. It carries more weight and he doesn't keep changing his mind.

LEGZ30 said:
Amongst the rest of your drivel
Care to try and back that one up with a fact or two? Or an argument? Or anything level headed or rational? Take a leaf from my Afghan relative's book perhaps? They’re clever people.

p.s. he's a good bloke but none too keen on Bush bombing wedding parties. Or enraging British Muslims. Or threatening security on the London tube. Or putting a grin on Osama's face. So he’s a better British patriot than many.
 
#16
nigegilb said:
Actually, women had a much better time of it under the soviets. Communism doesn't do religion and they had more rights then, for example education, than they do under a western imposed democracy now.

Funny that??
Isn't it just. But it doesn't fit the Pentagon truth-script. So wash your mouth out and watch ten hours of Fox News.
 
#17
annakey said:
LEGZ30 said:
annakey said:
It was safer in Afghanistan and the people more prosperous under the Soviets.
Amongst the rest of your drivel I spotted this little gem. Care to try and back that one up with a fact or two?
Sure. I was informed of its truth a week ago last Saturday by an Afghan relative by marriage. I believe him. He's level headed, rational, clever, and speaks from direct experience. I was holding his baby daughter on my knee at the time.

OK, he's not Matthew Parris but, on the whole, I’d trust his opinion more. It carries more weight and he doesn't keep changing his mind.
Your mysterious Afghan relative (how convenient for you that he suddenly pops into your life in the absence of any kind of verifiable fact) may well have all the qualities you attribute to him but he certainly isn't very observant.

Otherwise he would have noticed that instead of the occasional, accidental killing of civlians during airstrikes the Soviets routinely carpet bombed entire villages and towns as part of a deliberate policy of punishing civilians for Muj attacks

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1985/jan-feb/nelson.html

He also doesn't appear to have noticed the millions of Soviet land mines (many in unmarked fields) that are still causing misery in Afghanistan today

http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/02/1b4f5a81-277d-4a83-8e4a-579a308c0da6.html

He even somehow managed to miss the use of chemical weapons against civilian targets

http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=95194981

Perhaps most surprisingly he has managed to miss the obvious fact that civilian casualties in Afghanistan now are a fraction of what they were during the Soviet occupation and that the greatest killer of Afghans is the Taliban

http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2058417,00.html
 
#19
Britain’s commanders ignored every warning that the Taliban were the toughest fighters on earth
They may be tough but I'll still bet on a British Tommy any day.

Whether we achieve the overall mission or not is one thing. However in pitched toe to toe battles the boys are still handing out the beatings thick and fast.

So our enemy fancies itself at being tough, and to some extent they are. This is no excuse to bug out. We should never turn away from a fight just because or enemies hit back as hard as we hit.

We should only bug out when we are no longer gaining anything from being there. Whether that be in providing security for Peacful civillians, Supporting our Allies or stealing oil from behind the scenes. Having said that I'm beginning to think that the cost doesn't match the rewards.
 
#20
Actually, the greatest killer of afghans is, err, fellow afghans. More people died in the civil war that followed the soviet occupation. I don't think anyone here is genuinely recommending soviet rule as the way ahead, but a great many things are swept under the carpet when puppet govts are set up by the west. The abuse of afghan women in afghan society is staggering and yet we, in the west, turn a blind eye. Including trendy ngos hanging out in kabul.

And yes, we have killed many innocents ourselves, one of the things driving the insurgency. We have boxed ourselves into a situation that is looking increasingly unwinnable. Doesn't mean we should stop trying to succeed, but every western power brings it's own remedy to the table and little that is offered is coordinated. Paddy Ashdown might have been the man to bring all these efforts together. We will never know.

Thing is, how will we recognise failure and how will we know enough is enough.

Exit strategy has become a dirty phrase, isn't half helpful to define the mission aim though and sadly lacking in Afg.
 

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