Is the war in Afghanistan a lost cause?
The US-led war in Afghanistan continues to struggle and US President Barack Obama has decided to postpone the Kandahar offensive.
“When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them,” said US General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
“McCrystal is bright enough to realize that it’s a fool’s errand to get people to like you when you’ve invaded their country. It just doesn’t work,” said Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst.
He continued, “There is an old saying, if you’re a hammer than everything looks like a nail, now, if you’re a general then everything looks like a battle. What our president has made is a very fatal mistake, he’s consulted the generals.”
McGovern argues that General McChrystal and the head of Central Command General David Petraeus are truly running the show, not Obama.
“We need a multidisciplinary analysis of what’s in store for Afghanistan and how this military campaign might fit into that,” said McGovern.
Over the past few years, there have been no civilian national intelligence estimates of Afghanistan or Pakistan, which leaves all information in the hands of the military.
“I think Obama is a captive of the military, a captive of the CIA. He’s afraid of both and politically he can’t afford to appear weak, just as in the old days we couldn’t appear weak on communism. Now you can’t appear weak on Al Qaeda, or Taliban or terrorists,” said McGovern.
Many argue that Afghanistan cannot be won without a victory in Kandahar, but the offensive in the region has been postponed. The leadership and government in the region have no interest in an offensive or Kandahar surge in their own backyard.
We need to pause and think, according to McGovern. Afghanistan is not going in the direction we intended and Karzai is not a strong ally.
Citing history, McGovern argues that the war in Afghanistan is hopeless and has been from the beginning. Alexander the great failed in the region, the Indians, the Persians, the Mongols, the British, and the Russians all failed before the United States and NATO.
“Now, we’re going to do that with 100,000 troops and 100,000 contractors, it’s not going to happen and the sooner somebody tells Obama that the better,” said McGovern.
Comparing the war in Afghanistan to Vietnam, McGovern argues the effort is hopeless. He continued, also arguing that the US is not in Afghanistan to target the 100 to 1,000 Al Qaeda members on the ground. The strategic position of Afghanistan and its natural resources are the real agenda, he said.
Robert Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist and contributing editor to The Nation believes many Afghans are seemingly seeing NATO and the US as occupiers. He argues that General McChrystal simply does not know what he is doing and does not understand Afghanistan as a nation or a society.
Dreyfuss argued that the Kandahar offensive has been postponed because past offenses in Afghanistan have not succeeded as intended.
“They saw the attack on Marjah in the nearby Helmand province, as the model of what they were going to do in the rest of southern and eastern Afghanistan, of course Marjah kind of unraveled after we went in there; it’s a small town really, but even though we went in with guns blazing and this government in a box that we would bring in, it didn’t work and now the Taliban is back,” said Dreyfuss.Brian Becker, the director of the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition said there are similarities and differences between the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam, and argued that Afghanistan is worse.
“The US knows it is losing, they cannot win. The so-called surge cannot change the relationship of forces. The difference is, the American public so opposes the Afghanistan war that if they had any spike in casualties, something similar to what happened in Vietnam, there would be a complete uprising in this country,” said Becker.
Unlike the Vietnam War, there is no draft in place for the Afghan war and more of America is disconnected from the conflict than those in the Vietnam era.
Becker argues that even with that disconnect, Americans oppose the war.
“The American people, in spite of bad media coverage, have come to the conclusion that the war is unwinnable, there’s no such thing as a military victory,” said Becker.