The Big Question: Is the West winning in Afghanistan

#1
– and should more troops be sent?..

Why are we asking this now?

There is no sign of the war ending. The Taliban is growing stronger and has a presence in more parts of the country, despite the presence of 70,000 non-Afghan troops. The government of Hamid Karzai is losing authority and credibility at home and abroad. There have been spectacular attacks on the capital, Kabul, this year – such as a devastating bomb at the Indian embassy and another at the luxury Serena Hotel. What happens in Afghanistan is also more relevant now because the US President-elect, Barack Obama, has said America will fight on, unlike in Iraq, where he is committed to withdrawing 150,000 US troops. Gordon Brown has promised to reinforce the 8,000-strong British contingent in Afghanistan. There are also menacing signs of the war spreading into Pakistan, because the US has begun to use unmanned drone aircraft to attack targets there.

How did the Taliban come back when it seemed completely defeated in 2001?

The White House believed the war to overthrow the Taliban after the 11 September attacks in 2001 had succeeded more swiftly and at less cost than anybody could have imagined. In the face of a US air campaign in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, Kabul and other cities fell without a fight. This was all a little deceptive. The Taliban did not fight to a finish – its fighters went back to their villages or its leadership fled across the border into Pakistan. The fact that the Taliban had a safe refuge there after 2001 was key to its survival. It had, after all, always relied on Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for military support and operational guidance. The Pakistani military, fearing encirclement by hostile powers, still sees the Afghan Taliban as one of its few allies
Analysis continues here

Could the answer be as simple as dismantling the ISI and taking advantage of the resultant chaos in the Taliban leadership?

I admit , removing ISI in of itself is not simple, but is it the key?
 
#2
PartTimePongo said:
How did the Taliban come back when it seemed completely defeated in 2001?
Is it because Taliban is now seen by the locals as the only true defender of Afghanistan against foreign invasion? And you can't defeat the local population.
 
#3
Is removing ISI even an option? How many troops would that take, especially since you would effectively be declaring all-out war on Pakistan. I doubt the rest of the Pakistani military would stand idly by while the West dismantles the ISI.
 
#4
Oooh sounds like a Young Officer Essay question

Shall we start by defining "winning"
 
#5
No, the Pakistani leadership would need to dismantle the ISI. I think they did have a purge after 9/11 , or did they just say they did?

More pressure needs to be brought to bear on the Pakistani Government to get ISI back on the leash. It almost feels like ISI are running their own private war, and not in conjunction with Pakforce in general.
 
#6
Removing the ISI could possibly (accidentally) lead to the collapse of the Pakistani state. Would that help us in any way in Afghanistan? I fear we may create another problem. Leaves open the question; what's there to win in Afghanistan?

I still believe we should 1) try through tougher diplomacy to get Pakistan and India to sort out the most of their hostilities (part of the problem lies in there) and 2) assist/support the Pakistani government (or rather what's left of it) to keep it's own people in the NWF provinces under control. Thus may be helping them reforming the ISI.

But who am i? Probably a very simplistic person.
 
#8
PartTimePongo said:
No, the Pakistani leadership would need to dismantle the ISI. I think they did have a purge after 9/11 , or did they just say they did?

More pressure needs to be brought to bear on the Pakistani Government to get ISI back on the leash. It almost feels like ISI are running their own private war, and not in conjunction with Pakforce in general.
Hammer - nail: from what little I know, ISI seems to be the tail that wags the dog. It would be very difficult for the Pakistant government to dismantle an organisation as powerful and "dug in" as the ISI. Also, it would be very unpopular with the average Pakistani, who would see it as leaving the country more vulnerable to India...
 
#9
The difficulty is there will be people in ISI who see their role as getting Afghanistan into as peaceful a state as possible, and those who do not.

There is also the vexing question of drug trafficking and corruption, and just how much influence that has on what the ISI do.

I know for a fact, and it's probably on public record that most of the Horse that gets sold here, has Pakistani connections all over it. Are we bring acted against (allegedly) by ISI , because they want to protect their revenue stream?
 
#11
Taliban was "defeated" in 2001 because locals en masse were not ecstatic about them.

It doesn't matter what one does to Pakistan, for as long as NATO (or any other foreign force) will remain in Afghanistan, population of that country and peoples who associate themselves with Afghan culture be they on a territory of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan will support whoever is fighting the foreign occupation. Is NATO (after dealing with Pakistan) going to interfere in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well?
 
#12
Because then the ISI would really get the hump :(

But there is also the question of protecting the farmers from angry Druglords in the aftermath.
 
#13
PartTimePongo said:
The difficulty is there will be people in ISI who see their role as getting Afghanistan into as peaceful a state as possible, and those who do not.

There is also the vexing question of drug trafficking and corruption, and just how much influence that has on what the ISI do.

I know for a fact, and it's probably on public record that most of the Horse that gets sold here, has Pakistani connections all over it. Are we bring acted against (allegedly) by ISI , because they want to protect their revenue stream?
One for the Coppers on ARRSE; I thought the Turks controlled most of the heroin trade in the UK :?
 
#14
I don't see many Turks in the Brumopolis...
 
#15
Fair one, PTP.

In the end, this is all academic; the decision on how to act towards ISI/Pakistan won't be taken in this country. What Obama wants, Obama gets. He will have the final word on any action. Brown will just lie back like a good girl and enjoy it... :roll:
 
#16
PartTimePongo said:
– and should more troops be sent?..
If it means we see British forces abandon the Vietnam-style methods, yes.

If it means that we continue in the same manner but with just more troops, no.
 
#17
PTP,

Should the UK be interfering in the security affairs of another sovereign state, in an attempt to turn around failing intervention policy in a neighbouring sovereign state, a policy which is, in itself, only a sop to yet another state's foreign policy (mis)adventures?

Or to put it another way: what business is it of 'ours'?

If ISI and Pakistan are the next targets, who's next?

Why don't we hit the heart of the problem and foster regime change in Saudi Arabia and enforce an equitable solution upon Israel/Palestine?

Clearly not the DS answer, but who cares?
 
#18
Domovoy said:
Taliban was "defeated" in 2001 because locals en masse were not ecstatic about them.

It doesn't matter what one does to Pakistan, for as long as NATO (or any other foreign force) will remain in Afghanistan, population of that country and peoples who associate themselves with Afghan culture be they on a territory of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan will support whoever is fighting the foreign occupation. Is NATO (after dealing with Pakistan) going to interfere in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well?
I rather think those democracitic governments can take care of themselves.
 
#19
rickshaw-major said:
Domovoy said:
Taliban was "defeated" in 2001 because locals en masse were not ecstatic about them.

It doesn't matter what one does to Pakistan, for as long as NATO (or any other foreign force) will remain in Afghanistan, population of that country and peoples who associate themselves with Afghan culture be they on a territory of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan will support whoever is fighting the foreign occupation. Is NATO (after dealing with Pakistan) going to interfere in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as well?
I rather think those democracitic governments can take care of themselves.
Oh, I have no doubt those governments are democratic and can take care of themselves, I was simply referring to situations like these:

"Khar, Nov 19 2008 (ANI): Three tribal elders who yesterday escaped from Taliban captivity in Bajaur Agency, have claimed presence of a large number of foreigners, mostly Uzbeks, Chechens, in the Taliban ranks in Pakistan."

"al Jazeera posted an interview from Herat province, western Afghanistan with one Ghulam Yahya Akbari, a former "mayor" of Herat and presumably once a supporter of Karzai's government who has now gathered a group of fighters together to conduct armed resistance against Kabul. The punchline is that this group is Tajik, but the language, actions and ambitions are pure Taliban. I guess there are two angles to explore in this. The idea that now other ethnic groups are starting to emulate, if not actually join, the Taliban and conduct resistance against the Kabul regime lies somewhere between "a very real cause for concern" and "everybody's worst nightmare". It evokes the "tipping point" concerns of ISAF commanders past and present that the population might eventually get fed up with tens of thousands of international soldiers charging around dropping bombs on them and a corrupt government that fails to deliver and shift their allegiances elsewhere."2008-08-08

"The group of around 10,000 Uzbeks are led by Tahir Yuldashev, a close associate of the al-Qaeda terrorist chief, who is believed to be hiding out in the mountainous border area with his chief henchman Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The members of the Islamic Movement Union of Uzbekistan fell out with their Pakistani hosts after accusing some tribal leaders of acting as agents of the Pakistani government, which is under huge pressure from the US to crack down on Islamic militants.
.............
A second tribal leader said the local and Afghan Taliban forces had already approached the Uzbeks and asked them to continue their jihad in Taliban-dominated areas in Afghanistan, in a bid to "reinvigorate their campaign of violence against Nato troops". 26 Mar 2007
 

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