The United States Army is bogged down in Afghanistan and the news is not encouraging. The latest developments give food for thought. The US President Barack Obama has dismissed the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan Gen Stanley McChrystal, ostensibly because of rude behavior, but in reality because a scapegoat was needed for an increasingly inept war effort.
It appears that the US Presidents strategy is not working and the administration is looking for a face saving disengagement. The US administration is looking for a deal to extricate the US from Afghanistan and is relying more and more on Pakistan and the ISI for this purpose. This has dangerous consequences for the region as a whole and the USA in particular.
The Role of Pakistan
The US is perforce accepting Pakistan as the new viable partner in Afghanistan to President Hamid Karzai. Pakistan says that it can meditate and bring around Sirajuddin Haqqani an ally of Al Qaeda who runs a major part of the insurgency in Afghanistan into a power sharing arrangement. It must not be forgotten that the Haqqani network and the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are among the biggest assets of the ISI. It is conveniently forgotten that Hekmatyar now a sworn enemy of the USA received billions from the CIA during the war with Soviet Russia.
The remarkable thing is that the USA and Obama has been hood winked by Pakistan. While the ISI claims to fight the insurgents, yet the protégés of the ISI are killing American soldiers with impunity.
The Siege of Kunduz
Thus the USA is fighting the very people which it is indirectly funding. When the History of the Afghan war is written, it will be elucidated that the one single moment the Americans lost the war was during the siege of Kunduz in 2001.
At that time the rampaging Northern alliance had much of the top brass of the Taliban cornered in Kunduz. Like Ripley’s believe it or not the CIA authorized an airlift by the Pakistanis and at least a thousand of the Taliban leadership was allowed to escape. They were mostly mid level Pakistan Army and ISI offers in turbans. That single event sealed the fate of the war in Afghanistan.
The ISI Theory
The ISI is also putting forward a specious theory that Afghanistan cannot be subdued or conquered. But the facts speak otherwise as the Greeks, Persians, Mongols and Sikhs did defeat the Afghans resoundingly. Much of Afghanistan was conquered and ruled. So such propaganda is a subtle building up of pressure.
A defeat for American arms in Afghanistan would be bad for the region and the USA. Triumphant fundamentalists will crow that they brought both superpowers the Soviet Union and the USA to their knees. The effect of this will be a catalyst that could well affect the USA critically. Worse it would mean that China, through its proxies would be handing a third straight defeat after Korea, Vietnam and now Afghanistan. One shudders at such a eventuality.
Afghanistan-A cultural and Political History -Thomas Barfield- Princeton University Press (2010)
Captive , my Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban-Jery Van Dyke -Publisher Henry Holts Times Books imprint (2008)