Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Is the West losing the Afghan War?

August 5, 2010
Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division shield themselves from the dust as a Medivac helicopter takes off outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010. One soldier lost his leg and another was hit by shrapnel after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew up during a patrol near the base. REUTERS/Bob Strong

Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division shield themselves from the dust as a Medivac helicopter takes off outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar July 30, 2010. One soldier lost his leg and another was hit by shrapnel after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew up during a patrol near the base. REUTERS/Bob Strong

PAKISTANI President Asif Ali Zardari’s bleak assessment that the international community is losing the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan created ripples this week, but it is perhaps better seen as a riposte to Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron questioning Islamabad’s willingness to choke  support for Afghan Taliban insurgents.

Cameron’s barb came last week after leaked U.S. military documents said former and current intelligence officers in Pakistan were for years collaborating with the Taliban, who are intensifying bloody attacks against President Hamid Karzai’s government and around 150,000 foreign troops.

“I believe that the international community, which Pakistan belongs to, is in the process of losing the war against the Taliban,” Zardari said. “And that is, above all, because we have lost the battle for hearts and minds.”

Whatever Zardari’s motives may have been, if one looks closely at events in Afghanistan since U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001, you would likely agree with him.

Zardari said what Afghan officials have felt privately for a long time. Former spy chief Amrullah Saleh, who Karzai sacked in June over security lapses, spoke after his departure about the president’s lack of confidence in Western forces winning the war.

Despite bristling with technology and spending billions of dollars, coalition leader the United States not only hasn’t been able to defeat the Taliban, but insurgents are now reaching areas once thought secure.  A New Zealand soldier was killed in an ambush on Tuesday in Bamiyan province, in the central highlands, marking the country’s first combat death in an area regarded as the Afghanistan’s safest region.

Last week, there was a deadly attack on a road leading to the province, which is a popular tourist destination lying on the ancient Silk Route.

A soldier with an injured ankle from the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division is assisted past his burning M-ATV armored vehicle after it struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a road near Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley in this picture taken July 23, 2010. None of the four soldiers in the vehicle were seriously injured in the explosion. Picture taken July 23, 2010. REUTERS/Bob Strong

A soldier with an injured ankle from the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division is assisted past his burning M-ATV armored vehicle after it struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a road near Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley in this picture taken July 23, 2010. None of the four soldiers in the vehicle were seriously injured in the explosion. Picture taken July 23, 2010. REUTERS/Bob Strong

I always questioned the need for New Zealand to have a base in Bamiyan where the Taliban have had zero presence in recent years after their perceived brutal rule over the ethnic Hazara-dominated province and destruction of two huge and ancient Buddha statues.

Given its exceptionally secure situation, Bamiyan nine years after the war began should be an example of efforts by the West to win hearts and minds among Afghans  through reconstruction and development. Yet there have been protests in recent months about the lack of progress there.

If ordinary Afghans are frustrated in a secure, isolated and impoverished part of Afghanistan like Bamiyan, then the task of winning support in the restive south and east, where the Taliban are resurgent, will be immeasurably more difficult.

The United States has not been able to stop the spread of insurgent influence, or capture either Taliban or al Qaeda leaders, which Washington said was its top priority when it invaded Afghanistan.

Some NATO nations are reluctant to send soldiers for battle against the Taliban in the face of rising casualties among their forces while some are questioning if the Afghan war is worth.

The Netherlands this week began to pull out its soldiers and several other alliance countries plan in coming years.

Conspiracy theories, like rice and bread, are an Afghan staple. So you either have to agree with Zardari’s comments, or perhaps subscribe to views widely held among ordinary Afghans that the U.S. wants to keep Afghanistan unstable in order to maintain a long-term presence in the unstable Central Asia region.

Comments

Only in the mind of President Zadari
who is now on holiday in Europe.

Posted by Stephen Real | Report as abusive
 

The USA has no business being in Afghanistan. Only Mr zardari knows what his motives aare loafing about in Europe, while his country is burning. He sgould talk about the Sindh province where nature is playing havoc noz. He need not cocern himself about Afghanistan or Taliban for that matter.
rex Minor

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

The morality of the story of Afghanistan is:
A bunch of illiterate courageous mans can defeat the braging big mouthed Americans with ease .
Modern weapons are the cowards tools ,they feel reasurance from the sneack oil doctors .
A decadent nation of crooks do not make warriors
To winn a war you have to be mentaly fit, and be prepare to loose your live for the cause you fighting for . Fighting and die for the big corporations is not glorious , but rather despicable

Posted by claudius stahlkopf | Report as abusive
 

Rulers of Pakistan have always done just that; focusing on questionable external objectives, rather than on the internal matters. These people cant be called leaders, because they some how always pushed their country back, than leading it forwards prosperity and peace.

They made themselves resemble those trigger happy illiterate war lords who live and die by gun.

They have willfully brought about great miseries and culture of violence to their land to achieve so called strategic in Afghanistan and quest for Kashmir.

Until and unless a modern visionary leader with herculean capabilities emerges to focus in real problems, the unfortunate decline will continue.

 

It is sometimes covenient to ignore the lessons of history. Foreigners who conspire to invade the Pashtoon land have lost the fight before they even send their soldiers for combat.
Rex Minor

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

The West isn’t losing the war so much as this war is losing the West, enough with these double dealers where the only thing that gets you anywhere is bakshish (greased palms) Leave them to their own – if the Taliban wants them, then let them take them. Why should my son die for these crap-assed bastards, let them take what may come their way.

Posted by crid | Report as abusive
 

dear mr. crid,
your noble son and those of other nations have not come to die for us, but for your leaders interests.
if we were double dealers, we would have progress like your country. i tend to not use insulting or bad words.

Posted by sayed salahuddin | Report as abusive
 

mr.crid
i did not mean that all those who have progressed are double dealers. please do not teach your son/ daughter the word that you used in your comment.
we are poor, but not traitor and do not want to be burden, we are good that is why we do not last and every one is pulling us apart for one reason or the other.

Posted by sayed salahuddin | Report as abusive
 

@crid
i would not be proud of a mercenari son. Dont give us your crap that he is going to liberate the afghans, like they did in Iraq?
Rex Minor

Posted by rex minor | Report as abusive
 

criminal practices in iraq and afghanistan by US general show that human right for them only rhetoric. What they are doing totally different with the constitution. Its good if president obama quesioning his top general and the secretary of state who is responsible for human right violation in iraq at bush era and now in afghan in obama presidency.
its better for obama to investigate before it become big international issue.

Posted by anto | Report as abusive
 

wikileak release (if its true) show criminal practices in iraq and afghanistan by US general means that human right for them only rhetoric. What they are doing totally different with the constitution. Its good if president obama quesioning his top general and the secretary of state who is responsible for human right violation in iraq at bush era and now in afghan in obama presidency.
its better for obama to investigate before it become big international issue.

Posted by anto | Report as abusive
 

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