The US war in Afghanistan has entered into its 17th consecutive year of dismay. This winter, Afghan security forces intensified their operations against the rogue elements, despite heavy snow and bitter cold instead of a usual slowdown in fighting during Afghanistan’s harsh winter tide.
Will this prove effective or not will be reckoned with time, however the cause of fretfulness remains that even after years of violence, with thousands dead and innumerable wounded, the was still has no clear end in sight. The summer of 2017 was been a bloody one in Afghanistan, with the death toll nearing a thousand. On the word of the United Nations, the number of civilians killed in this six-month period touched an eight year record high.
So much so that even the senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Michael Kugelman voiced the grim reality that despite this immense sacrifice in lives and resources, the chief gains from the Afghan war’s early years have effectively been reversed.
The US has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan since 2001 on a war that has been subsisting on the lives of more than 2,400 American soldiers and over 31,000 Afghan civilians. The estimated number of causalities are as high as 43,362, which includes Afghan security forces, coalition troops and nearly 2,000 contractors.
Undoubtedly, what Dominic Tierney wrote in 2015, while describing the situation at home, is still valid today. He said, raising the topic of Afghanistan is like mentioning mortality. There’s a profound desire to change the subject.
These figures represent the war state through the middle of 2016. Today, in 2018, when the war continues to drag on into its 17th year, the situation is even worse. Bill Roggio, editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, said in the US congressional testimony in April 2017 that, “The Taliban … today holds more ground in the country since the US ousted the jihadists in early 2002”. With all the stated data and the bitter ground realities, the announcement by President Trump declaring further escalation in the war came as a total surprise for all the interest groups in Afghan war.
The Long War journal map assessment argues that presently the Taliban controls or contests 45% of the Afghan districts. Their assessment also highlights the Taliban’s rural control, a key source of insurgent strength that the US military underestimates.
With all the grim statistics and unsuccessful strategies applied in the battle ground, Michael Kugelman also notes that President Trump is now actually short of available options in Afghanistan. “This much is clear — there are no good options in Afghanistan,” he wrote. Regrettably, out of all the ‘no good options’, the president opted for the poorest one. He forced the bulk of his failures to Pakistan, gradually increasing the stress with toxic hate campaigns.
To serve the purpose, a systematic propaganda was initiated at international level to accentuate Pakistan in context of harboring terrorist and terror outfits. In line with the Trump-devised policy, the two highly controversial US Congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher and Brad Sherman held up their anti-Pakistan rhetoric during the meeting of House of Representatives held in October. Brad Sherman purported about some fabled HR violations in Sindh, while Dana Rohrabacher (famous for working on behalf of certain lobbies in the past) oddly enough linked the creation of Bangladesh with the life of the Muhajir community in Karachi. Quite ridiculous it was, as the creation of Bangladesh was a planned conspiracy of India. Contrariwise, the meeting of Dana Rohrabacher with Altaf Hussain and Khan of Qalat in support of Baluch separatists should be seen rather skeptically as it bears upon another conspiracy in the offing.
Toeing the line further was a retired US army colonel turned writer Lawrence Sellin who, while admitting that completion of CPEC will seriously hurt the US interests, wished for an independent and secular Baluchistan, which in case if not possible then at least a Baluchistan with Iranian infiltration and military action. His views are on more of a conspiracy theory level, but they can be taken for the policy thinking of military related academia of US.
To further pressure Pakistan, a deliberate propaganda campaign against the safety of her nuclear weapons was launched thereafter. Larry Pressler, an ex-Republican politician, is seen conforming to Hussain Haqqani declaring Pakistan a state sponsoring terrorism. Likewise, the US president dubbing Pakistan the way he did in his recent tweets was another irony of the first order.
In this transpiring war, Pakistan has rendered unique sacrifices both in terms of lives and finances while overcoming the spate of orchestrated terrorism. The country has thus far suffered more than 62,000 fatalities and a loss of over USD$123 billion. No rhyme or reason, but with such sacrifices this kind of behavior will not subjugate Pakistan rather make it even more resilient and objective.
George Friedman very aptly put the US quagmire in words. “At this point, the United States is looking for an endgame in Afghanistan. It has spent 16 years fighting a war but has not yet achieved its goals. The US will no longer devote large numbers of troops because large numbers of troops failed before… The more tactical the approach, the more the US needs Pakistani cooperation”. But the question is why Pakistan should comply with US’ undue pressure, since a US departure would leave Pakistan facing strong hostile forces across its border especially in the case where US has already backed Indian presence in Afghanistan.
It’s time to realize that President Trump’s new policy has yielded rather negative results. The Taliban are more aggressive than ever before and the area under control of Afghan National unity Government is ever decreasing. Reasons for US failures in her longest war in the history are hidden elsewhere. The US has actually failed to understand her enemy. In recent past American Forces dropping blasphemous pamphlets in Afghanistan desecrating Kalama-e-Tayyaba are classic examples of US incompetency to understand Taliban sentiment. Also, US policies are known to be oblivious of the ground realities. Afghan official forces are suffering daily defeats and are likely to be wiped out if foreign support is denied to them. The present regime’s rampant corruption, increased causalities among forces, mounting civilian causalities and the resurgence of Taliban/ISIS along with the battering relations between the two non-NATO allies is continuously keeping the Afghan situation uncertain. Believe it or not, the arrogance of President Trump is simply not allowing him to put an end to America’s longest war.