America Chose the Wrong Place for their Fight against Terrorism
27 March 2016
By Dr Hameedullah
It is time for America and her allies to admit that they made a historical
mistake by invading Afghanistan. After over 14 years of occupation, spending
trillions of dollars, losing countless lives, and suffering a huge loss of
international prestige, America still has nothing to show for their efforts.
The most they can boast is that by making such enormous sacrifices they at
least managed to oust the Islamic Emirate from power, although it would still
be debatable whether this objective brought about a better alternative in
terms of America's national interests.
The simple fact of the matter is that America completely failed to think out
the implications of invading Afghanistan. Given Afghanistan's centuries old
tradition of resisting foreign interference, America should have at least
equated for the possibility that it would only be a matter of time before the
winds of war came crashing down on them from atop these tall mountains.
The best course of action for America would have been to leave Afghanistan
before the going got tough. In the initial years they had a golden opportunity
to do so. Having purportedly ousted the Islamic government, and only facing
isolated pockets of resistance, they could have completely withdrawn from
Afghanistan and left the Kabul regime to deal with the insurgency which grew
daily precisely as a result of the continued presence of foreign troops.
Yet unfortunately for them, the Americans preferred easy fixes over long-term
sustainability. America quickly brought together exiled and émigré Afghans who
had no support inside Afghanistan and were completely out of touch with the
locals to the fore in the Bonn Conference.
These émigrés had absolutely no intention of advancing the national interests
of Afghanistan or even the interests of their foreign backers. They saw the
Afghan war as a financial venture. The longer America was involved in this
conflict the more opportunities they had to profit from her. These émigrés
shamelessly encouraged a bigger American footprint on the ground despite
understanding the grave consequences simply because this larger footprint
provided them with more opportunities to cash in on personal contracts.
America initially professed to a very limited military objective. It declared
war on Al Qaeda and only fought the Islamic Emirate because they refused to
hand over Al Qaeda fighters. After the initial phase of the invasion all
foreign fighters had left Afghanistan and thus America could rightly exclaim
mission accomplished. Yet Washington allowed itself to be duped by the Afghan
émigrés and inadvertently broadened the nature of her involvement by
committing itself to completely ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban.
Such an objective was foolish at best because to achieve it would have
required nothing short of adopting a genocidal policy towards a large section
of the Afghan populace. On top of this the Americans supported a
disproportionate government in Kabul which destroyed the delicate ethnic
balance of the country and infuriated the local populace by blatantly
supporting policies and actions that were abhorrent to the large majority of
the conservative population.
After fourteen years of strife America has little to show for her efforts. She
is almost unanimously hatred across Afghanistan. She obstinately continues to
support a weak and despised government that lacks a coherent approach to its
many internal and external dilemmas.
Just like in Iraq, she has no reliable allies in Afghanistan. The politicians
in Kabul have no political values or objectives and will serve anyone that
provides them with financial opportunities.
Her actions have inflamed the entire region and now America must combat
‘militancy' on multiple fronts in this region alone.
Disdaining all other alternatives America has now adopted a careless and
self-defeating policy for Afghanistan. She knows that the Kabul regime cannot
defeat the insurgency and will very likely succumb to the insurgency forces.
So she has decided to leave all rural areas of Afghanistan in the hands of the
Islamic Emirate but instead is attempting to prevent the fall of large
population centers. And failing that, America, as a minimum hope to prevent
the collapse of Kabul to the Islamic Emirate's fighters.
By inducing such a stalemate America hopes that she can at least refute the
notion of a complete defeat in Afghanistan and to prevent the ascendancy of
Islamists in the region. This stalemate also appeals to the Kabul-based émigré
politicians because it keeps America drawn to the conflict and lets their
embezzlement schemes flourish.
Yet this face-saving stalemate will come at a prize. The proposed stalemate
will turn Afghanistan into exactly the failed-state Americans came in to
prevent. As in Afghanistan will become a safe haven to foreign elements of all
sorts and colors who will use the power vacuum to advance their regional
Neighboring countries will support different factions to advance their
interests. Rivals will wage proxy wars across its borders. And individual
groups will use the country to sow instability across the country and region
and possibly to plot attacks across the globe.
A better policy for America would be to admit the futility of is invasion,
stop foreign-engineered solutions for an Afghan dilemma, and let the Afghans
alone choose their political destiny, albeit one that does not involve
continued attacks against American personnel.