Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, January 21st, 2018

The Failure of Strategies in Afghanistan

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The Failure of Strategies  in Afghanistan
Beside some common characteristics, Afghan society has some unique features and peculiarities that have influenced social development and interaction with other countries. The evolution of global phenomenon has not undergone normal and predominantly accepted procedure in this land. The social and political hypothesis that was tested in other countries either failed or was proved completely wrong and tragic in the landlocked state. The Great Britain’s imperialistic effort in the late of 19th and early 20th century to occupy the country failed after three bloody battles. The socialist USSR was not convinced about the difficulty of military mission in Afghanistan and deployed its so-called invincible army to establish communism in this part of the world. But, after ten years of destructive war in which the country was completely destroyed, the government institutions were left dysfunctional and millions of USSR soldiers and Afghans were killed while the military mission remained unfulfilled and the red army had to accept the ignominious failure on its record and surrendered the country to extremists and factional forces. The neighboring countries were the first to enter Afghanistan’s turmoil after the withdrawal of Red Army. With helping various factional and extremist Islamic groups, and was fueling the fire of ethnic and religious differences and confrontation. Probably, the primary goal of supporting extremists was to maintain Afghanistan in everlasting crisis and establish an administration in Kabul that could fully protect and serve their strategic interests. Even again, the strategy to achieve this goal was not drafted to reflect the reality of Afghanistan, and the consequence was the birth and deep infiltration of terror throughout the region. In the twenty-first century, with the union of international community against the defiant Taliban regime, new chapter was unfolded in the history of the nation. The previous political system that was based on traditional measures and narrow religious teachings that had suffocated the common people was replaced with a democratic system that would preach religious tolerance, political compromise and all recently successful models of governance that ensure and protect safety and prosperity of their citizens. The international involvement in Afghanistan was legitimized by the UN approval and the core purpose was stated as war against terrorism, eradication of drugs and narcotics and eventually consolidation of rule of law in a country that had been ruined by violence, formation of local militia and warlord kingdom. The eventual goal was to establish in Afghanistan the values that world takes for granted, like accountability of ruler to their publics, superiority of law, equality before the law and people’s political rights to choose their rulers and vote against them if they are no more respecting public interests. Ten years have passed from those days and moments when great and promising documents and treaties were exchanged between Afghanistan and international community, but the distance to achieve those goals remains the same or even greater. The number of people who had read and approved those documents with great hope and excitement are declining sharply, it is difficult to find that great number today to be convinced that mission in Afghanistan would succeed. A review of the situation in Afghanistan indicates that strategies that so far the international community, especially the United States of America prepared to achieve peace and stability and establish the rule of law did not respond. The question now is that what are effective and capable political systems? What are the shortcomings of war and political strategies that did not pay off in Afghanistan? Why the strategies and experiences that could solve problems in other parts of the world and enabled the post-conflict nations to reunite and unfold new chapter in their history did not work in Afghanistan? There are reports that General Petraeus, the architect of successful “surge” strategy in Iraq and widely respected US general and the current commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, will resign his position this summer for inability and failure to succeed in war in Afghanistan. His renowned predecessor, General McChrystal faced a similar fate and had to conclude his military career with bleeding mistakes and defeats in Afghan war. Although General Petraeus is said to be leaving his position due to the rising civilian casualties in the war and deteriorating bilateral relation with President Karzai, but his predecessor, McCrystal was fired for disabling the war machine of NATO air operations. His policy to minimize air operations or even stop them in some areas led to reemergence of the Taliban and left NATO soldiers practically handicapped on the ground. The delay in Marjah operation in Helmand and Kandahar are examples of McChrystal‘s career mistakes. It is unlikely that NATO and the US will succeed in war in Afghanistan with just replacement of military officers or changing the type of war without fundamental reform in the international strategy. The current US and NATO strategy suffered two major weaknesses that if US and its allies want to properly end the war and stabilize Afghanistan, should take serious and effective action to eliminate these defects. The first major weakness of international strategy in Afghanistan is personality cult and individualism. The US and other allies in this country have tied their fate and the fate of the country to one person. During the past ten years international community has heavily invested on President Karzai and he was the sole person to represent Afghanistan, its development and future. It is a right question to put here that have they interacted with civil society or political parties or any other source than Hamid Karzai to ask how do they assess the situation and their future here or what are their inputs? Political parties, which are important institutions in any democracy, were legally diminished and practically isolated from Afghan politics. They were not consulted on any sensitive national and international issues that could have important impacts on the country. The second weakness of US strategy in Afghanistan is concentration on military aspects more than any other dimensions. It is said that over a hundred billion dollar is the annual cost of the war and the big bulk of money goes for expenditure of NATO and US soldiers. Reality is that if a third of this money is annually spent on improving people’s livelihood, there will be dramatic transformations in the country in various aspects that can bring security and stability throughout the country. Why attention is not paid to improve the livelihood of people and provide them reasonable incentive and hope to work on peaceful life? This is an important question that follows with another painful fact that how much international community has been committed to their slogans and mission? However, if the current international community’s strategy is not correctly rectified, Afghanistan may witness another strategic deadlock and failure.

Ali Raza Hussaini is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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