The allies fight the ‘wrong’ war in Afghanistan

The allies fight the ‘wrong’ war in Afghanistan
By Max Hastings
Published: May 10 2009 19:02 | Last updated: May 10 2009 19:02
It is frustrating for the US government to be making strategy for a battlefield while knowing that the strategic outcome will be decided on another one. The current redeployments in Afghanistan are taking place in the knowledge that Pakistan matters much more. The most important change in the thinking of Washington and its allies over the past year derives from recognition they are fighting the wrong war, or at least running a sideshow.

The purpose of the 2001 US invasion was to deny sanctuary to terrorists based in Afghanistan. Yet al-Qaeda today plays only a marginal role in that country, while being deeply rooted in Pakistan. Western forces find themselves engaged in an ill-defined campaign to stabilise Afghan tribal society, while being unable to use troops across the border, where most Pakistanis are bitterly hostile to the US.

This is not a predicament likely to promote happy policy-making. The British are doing their utmost to forge a common strategy with the US. The maintenance of the Atlantic alliance is, as always, the Brown government’s foremost objective. The Obama administration is sincerely grateful for British support, which has become especially important as conditions in Afghanistan have worsened.
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