All the “Daisy Cutters”, Nuclear tipped bombs, and the finest drones on the planet could not stand up to the raw grit of those that opposed occupation. All the kings horses and the all the kings men could not put humpty back together or subdue the fierce fighters of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are clear signs of operationalization of the peace plan in Kabul. The surge was simply to assuage the hawks in the Republican Party–the real Afghan reassessment was to get American boys out of the treacherous Hindu Kush. Defeat is a clichéd word–there are no winners in war. Victory is exaggerated concept. Absolute defeats have never been able to quell the resistance. Absolute victories have always lead to future wars–be it Sparta, Versailles or Kabul.
As Shakespeare would say “when the hurly burly’s done, and the battle is lost and won“–there is time to make a fresh start.
When a country is not able to impose its will and might–it is some sort of defeat. The Americans today need a face saving exit strategy from Afghanistan. The Taliban, Pakistan and all other countries of the world should assist the US in a phased, expeditious and honorable withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Over the past several years, we have predicted that the US will exit Afghanistan in 2011 right before the US elections. The tell tale signs of the operationalization of this policy is writ in large all over the billboards called newspapers.
There are numerous indications confirming our well calculated predictions:
- the polite decline to Delhi on their exuberance to begin training the Afghan forces;
- the offering of Shadow drones to Pakistan; the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban;
- the mood and the statements of the big boys in preperation of the Afghan Conference on January 28th, 2010; the acceptance of the Pakistani point of view on halting further operations in FATA;
- the usage of Pakistani mediators in back channel diplomacy to include the Taliban in the current Kabul government;
- the offer of further US military and financial aid to Pakistan. The carrots offered to Pakistan are not for free–Milton Friedman was right “that ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”.
Pakistan is being offered new toys and more Dollars for her assistance in helping the American extricate themselves out of the Afghan quagmire.
America had a decision to make. Stick with General McChrystal’s policy of more soldiers, more mercenaries and more war–supplemented with more drone bombing and more targeted murders (drones and otherwise). More war has always created more enemies. This has never been more true than in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.
Washington’s other choice was less war, less soldiers and less enemies. President Obama hedged his bets with the first option, and then is pursuing the 2nd option aggressively.
While some may claim that the Great Game is over–and Pakistan won. However, this is not the time for crowing from the rooftops. This is the time to let loose the doves from the allow them to to fly into the sun. There are many steps between the lips and cup. There are many impediments to peace in the Panshir and tranquility in Waziristan. We believe that the right steps are being taken.
A show of strength followed up with massive financial aid and assistance will yield the right results. Once the troops begin leaving, the civilian surge, accompanied with suitcases full of Dollars will persuade the warlords to switch sides (just like the Northern Alliance switched sides in 2001).
There are huge dangers to he peace deal. Bharat (aka India) keenly aware of its sagging influence in Central Asia (specially after the ignominious eviction from Tajikistan) may play the chagrined loser, and stage another Mumbai type of false flag, and try to wage war on Pakistan. This would derail the peace plan. Some of Bharati (Indian) surrogates in Baluchistan and the TTP may be allowed to torpedo peace in the Khyber Pass by assassinating another Pakistani leader, in trying to create ethnic strife in Pakistan. Other international powers may have vested interests in ensuring that the Taliban do not come into power or even share the government in Kabul. Both Israel and Iran are scared of the Talibs.
If President Obama is able to pull this off–it will be a miracle. He has to keep the Indians at bay by selling them toys (double advantage, dollars and Peace); he has to appease the Pakistanis so that they continue their assistance in achieving peace; he has to browbeat Iranian resistance through sanctions and threats; he has to assuage the Chinese that Afghan venture is over with no threat to Beijing; and he has to keep the Russians cool so that they do not think that Central Asia has been taken from them. If he can do this tap dance, the US corporations can make huge profits.
Delhi needs Viagra to prove its manhood. The US can offer the blue pills in many forms–obsolete nuclear plants declared unsafe for America, stripped down F-16s (with lots of spare parts and services), and tons of below quality equipment that the Indians would love to plunk down hard cash for. After all the business of America is doing business. If the US can figure out how to sell billions of Dollars of machines (which will rust in a few years) to Delhi that would be a great achievement. If the US can make a profit out of the Afghan war to recuperate some of its losses, it will be a happy camper.
Bharat will smile if the blue pills come in the shapes of iron and steel. No matter if many more Bhopals happen–as long as the corrupt politicians can fill their Swiss bank accounts. While much attention is paid to the corruption in Pakistan, a recent statistic from Zurich showed that 80% of the Swiss accounts belong to Indians. Why are they putting their money there–must be hiding something.
One major reason for the massive failure of indigenous Indian defense projects is the fact that the corrupt military and political leaders make a lot more money from foreign military purchases. General Kapoor is a prime example of the corruption that infests the Indian military. However unlike Pakistan where these things are dicussed and there is a NRO–albeit a broken and politicized system, in Bharat most of the corruption under the radar. The few exception like Bofars etc. are the tip of the iceberg. Actually the politicization of the NRO keeps the opposition honest and has led to some persecution but a lot of prosecution and also.
Delhi thrown out of Tajikistan, sequestered of out Central Asia, and locked in a tough battle of wits and territory with Chin and Pakistan now gets the consolation prize of fumes, jets, and nuclear plants from America–sugar coated with state dinners and eulogies on how big the Indian “democracy” is. One must hand it to the US marketing teams–they make it seem like the US is doing Bharat (or Pakistan for that matter) by selling it obsolete equipment. One is reminded of the Cherokees who were done a favour by the Yanks when they sold them blankets. It has now been scientifically proven that the blankets had small-pox infestations– Native Americans claim that the small pox was deliberately infused into the blankets.
The US sanctions in the 90s made Pakistan self sufficient in nuclear and missile technology. After the first squadron of JF-17 Thunder was operationalized, the Pakistanis are working closely with the Chinese to build the FC-20s and also the J-144 which shows the technological independence of Asia.
With America leaving, Pakistan will not have free reign in Afghanistan. The sway will be curtailed by local opposition and guarantees from China and Russia so that the terrible days of the Taliban cannot be resurrected. After the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan, they had set up the structure in a manner that the Najibullah’s government survived in Kabul for three years. The Karzai government allied with the Taliban will survive less than a year. There will be civil war in Afghanistan again—but it will come to an end eventually. The only sane solution is the inevitable confederation between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Moin Ansari is a seasoned political scientist, investigative historian and strategic defense analyst with special focus on International Relations in South and West Asia. His columns appear in various publications, including the Opinion Maker.
He is the Editor in Chief of Rupee News and Pakistan Ledger