pxl
bismellah


pixl

Home
News
Articles (New)
AfghanPedia

Contact Us


Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
 
 
 
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
We Are Those Two Afghan Children, Killed by NATO While Tending Their Cattle
Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
U.S. Air Force Confirms 'Beast of Kandahar' Secret Stealth Drone Plane
Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
'Yes, there was torture and people were certainly beaten': Afghan warden
Why we should leave Afghanistan
US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
Pakistan to US: Don't surge in Afghanistan, talk to Taliban
A Plan C for Afghanistan
Finding decent cabinet is Karzai's big challenge
A way to get around Karzai in Afghanistan
Corruption fight boosted by 'Afghan FBI'
US demands Afghan 'bribery court'
Afghanistan plans court for corrupt ministers
The man leading Afghanistan's anti-corruption fight
Win hearts and minds in Afghanistan to win the war
Gates blocks abuse photos release
New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
War in Afghanistan: Not in our name
How the US Funds the Taliban
Afghan gov't says UN representative out of line
Cabinet of Warlords
Afghanistan and the lessons of history
Clinton says Karzai ‘must do better’
Recognizing the Limits of American Power in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan election, governors seek distance from 'illegal' Karzai
Karzai was hellbent on victory. Afghans will pay the price
Matthew Hoh: Please refute what I'm saying, we are stuck in the Afghan civil war
As US looks for exit in Afghanistan, China digs in
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistani
The Afghan '80s are back
Pashtun peace prophet goes global
Afghan Road Builder's Dream Thwarted by Violence
A white elephant in Kabul
The Afghan Runoff: Will It Be a No-Show Election?

Ashraf Ghani- Afghanistan's Disputed Election Complicates U.S. Strategy

On Assignment: Into the Maw at Marja

Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
CIA Ghost Money: Karzai Confirms U.S. Gives Funds To Afghan National Security Team
What the CIA’s cash has bought for Afghanistan

Khalilzad: A Satan Whispering in the Hearts of Men
The Afghan trust deficitt
Will We Learn Anything from Afghanistan? Part 1
Getting Out of Afghanistan: Part 2
William R. Polk
General’s Defense on Afghan Scandal Ducks Key Evidence
Afghans want Taliban peace talks
Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn't Happen Here, It Does Happen There
Hekmatyar's never-ending Afghan war
Covert American Aid to the Afghan Resistance; A Top-Secret U.S. Foreign Policy Plot to Induce and Effect Soviet Military Intervention
Afghan brain drain fears as Karzai urges education reforms

US considers launching joint US-Afghan raids in Pakistan to hunt down militant groups

Real security in Afghanistan depends on people's basic needs being met
Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy
Former Taliban Officials Say U.S. Talks Started
Taliban ready for talks with US, not Karzai government
Emboldened Taliban Try to Sell Softer Image
Leaked NATO Report Shows Pakistan Support For Taliban
Insight: Few options for Afghan, U.S. leaders after Kandahar massacre
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and Daoud Sultanzoy, Tolo Television
NATO’s measured exit plan in Afghanistan faces new obstacles
BFP Exclusive: Karzai Clan Attorney Threatens US Journalist, Uses Intimidation Tactics
Afghanistan Chronicles
Arduous path to Afghan 'end-game'
Fear in the classrooms: is the Taliban poisoning Afghanistan's schoolgirls?
A comment on the recent events of student poisoning in Afghanistan
Rape Case, in Public, Cites Abuse by Armed Groups in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Peace Talks Hit Brick Wall
THE ANATOMY OF US’S DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN
VOICES OF EMPIRE: FROM CIA’s CULTURAL GREAT GAME TO GLOBAL GREAT GAME TODAY
WHITE PAPER FOR THE PERMANENT PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN
King Karzai
A Federal System of Government is Not Suitable for Afghanistan
CHINA AMO DARYA OIL DEAL
Analysis: Where Afghan humanitarianism ends and development begins
U.S. Envoy: Kabulbank Was 'Vast Looting Scheme'
Speaking with the enemy: how US commanders fight the Taliban during the day and dine with them at night
Afghanistan: Operation Enduring Musery
How to Win Peace in Afghanistan
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Criticism of Afghan War Is on the Rise in Britain
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Afghans still skeptical about Obama
US Defence Department struggling with public release of report on bombing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan on the Edge
Q+A: Who are the Pakistani Taliban insurgents?
Afghanistan Past & Present
Bombs for Pashtoons and Dollars for Punjab
Help! I'm being outgunned on K Street!
ANGELS CHASING DEMONS: “Jesus Killed Mohammad”!
U.S. tested 2 Afghan scenarios in war game
America's Top Diplomat Tells 'Nightline': 'Not Every Taliban Is al Qaeda'
Obama hearing range of views on Afghanistan
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Will Obama change Afghan strategy?
What Do Afghans Want? Withdrawal - But Not Too Fast - and A Negotiated Peace
Afghans tricked into U.S. trip, detained
In the Afghan War, Aim for the Middle
Obama pulled two ways in Afghanistan
Obama Can’t Make Russian Mistake in Afghanistan
10 Steps to Victory in Afghanistan
Gates: Mistake to set time line for Afghan withdrawal
Afghans question what democracy has done for them
High stakes in Afghan vote recount
Two Perspectives On Resolving The Afghan Postelection Crisis
Does the U.S. still have a vital interest in Afghanistan?
Pashtuns and Pakistanis
The Afghan '80s are back
How to Lose in Afghanistan
US in Afghanistan proposes revamped strategy
US 'needs fresh Afghan strategy'
US looks to Vietnam for Afghan tips
Lessons from Vietnam on Afghanistan
Afghan Pres. Skips Country's 1st TV Debate
A proud moment for Afghanistan
Rival to Karzai Gains Strength in Afghan Presidential Election
Afghan presidential candidate withdraws in Karzai's favor
America and international law
Hamid Karzai pulls out of historic TV debate just hours before broadcast
Karzai says no to first Afghanpresidential debate
Afghan election: Can Karzai's rivals close the gap?
Karzai opponents hope to beat him in second round
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
Well-known traffickers set free ahead of election
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Why the Pentagon Axed Its Afghanistan Warlord
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
The Irresistible Illusion
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit
We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Operation in Taliban hotbed a test for revamped U.S. strategy
Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
A Response To General Dostum
Obama orders probe of killings in Afghanistan
Obama admin: No grounds to probe Afghan war crimes
US president sets Afghan target
U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died
Afghanistan's Election Challenges
The Irresistible Illusion
Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
End the Illegal, Immoral and Wasted War in Afghanistan, says BNP Defence Spokesman
Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 

Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?

 

Source: AlterNet - By: Fred Branfman, Truthdig
Gen. David Petraeus’ aura of success resulting from reduced violence in Iraq has blinded normally sensible observers to his far greater failure in Afghanistan and Pakistan. His ill-conceived effort to deny al-Qaida and the Taliban “safe havens” in Pakistan -- through drone aircraft bombing, special-forces assassination and perhaps torture (by way of association with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, his new Afghanistan military commander) -- has backfired, driving the Taliban east into Pakistan, where they have joined local allies to weaken the Pakistani government. It has also strengthened, not weakened, al-Qaida and alienated growing numbers of Pakistanis. The Petraeus strategy has thus dramatically strengthened America’s enemies and helped destabilize a nuclear-armed nation of 170 million whose importance dwarfs Iraq and Afghanistan combined. More alarmingly, he now intends to escalate his failed strategy, which could cause unimaginable catastrophes in coming months and years.

President Obama -- who may well regret his call as a candidate for attacking Taliban safe havens in Pakistan, given the debacle those attacks have produced -- should replace Petraeus, and McChrystal’s nomination should be blocked. However, Obama is unlikely to take such an action absent significant public pressure. Petraeus has enormous leverage over the president. The general is extremely popular because of the perceived success of the Iraqi surge. The Obama administration could be capsized by a combination of likely losses in the “Af-Pak”¬ theater and the popular Petraeus resigning and blaming Obama, one imagines, for “not listening to his military commanders.” Obama could even be defeated in 2012 by Petraeus himself on those grounds, should persistent Washington rumors about a nascent “Petraeus for President” campaign prove true.

Obama’s best political defense if his Middle East policy fails, as appears likely, would be to claim he was following the military’s lead. This may explain why he has reversed himself and adopted such Bush policies as military tribunals and preventive detention.

It is critical now for Congress, the media, opinion makers and the public to undertake an objective analysis of the basic question: Has the Petraeus strategy worked in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater?

The general’s “Iraqi surge” strategy is irrelevant to this question. Past military victories do not guarantee future success. Petraeus has been no more successful in “Af-Pak” than the creators of the Maginot Line were in World War II, generals who had succeeded in World War I.

When Petraeus became head of CENTCOM (the U.S. Central Command) in October 2008, he became America’s chief military strategist for the theater, overseeing Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Petraeus clearly sees himself as the central player in the region. When a New York Post interviewer stated on May 19, “As the commander of the US Central Command, you’re the big-picture `strategy guy,’ ” Petraeus did not demur. Instead he referred to his “strong” team of generals -- McChrystal, David Rodriguez and Karl Eikenberry (the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan) -- and added that “I’m privileged to have Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as my `diplomatic wingman.’ ” The perceived success of the surge in Iraq had given Petraeus tremendous power, allowing him to extend the strategy to the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.

The most important mission of the general, as overall theater commander, has been to design a strategy to ensure that fighting in Afghanistan does not destabilize its nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan. He has failed in this mission.

David Kilcullen, Petraeus’ own counterinsurgency adviser in Iraq, has characterized U.S. policy as a fundamental “strategic error ... our insistence on personalizing this conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, devoting time and resources toward killing or capturing ‘high-value’ targets ... distracts us from larger problems.”

As Kilcullen had noted earlier, these “larger problems” include the potential “collapse of the Pakistani state,” which he called a calamity that in light of the country’s size, strategic location and nuclear stockpile would “dwarf” all other dangers in the region. While Petraeus obviously does not bear sole responsibility for all problems in the Af-Pak theater, his many “strategic errors” have played a major role in weakening the U.S. and strengthening its enemies, as I will outline below.

Petraeus has driven the Taliban east into Pakistan, where they have joined with local jihadi forces and gained increasing amounts of territory.

On Feb. 16, The New York Times reported from Pakistan, “Analysts are now suggesting that the drone strikes may be pushing the Taliban, and even some Qaeda elements, out of the tribal belt and into Swat, making the valley more important to the Taliban.” The Swat Valley is part of Pakistan proper, and the consolidation of Taliban forces there represented a major setback to U.S. and Pakistani interests. Pakistani government weakness there forced Islamabad to hand over effective control of the valley to its enemies and accept the imposition of sharia law there. A month and a half later, the Times followed up, saying, “American policy has arguably made the situation even worse, for the Predator-drone attacks along the border, though effective, drive the Taliban eastward, deeper into Pakistan. And the strategy has been only reinforcing hostility to the United States among ordinary Pakistanis.”

With Swat as a base, Taliban forces then took over the Buner district in late April.

And, most ominously, the Taliban and local extremists have been making inroads into the Punjab, Pakistan’s heartland, as the Times documented: “Taliban insurgents are teaming up with local militant groups to make inroads in Punjab, the province that is home to more than half of Pakistanis, reinvigorating an alliance that Pakistani and American authorities say poses a serious risk to the stability of the country. ... As American drone attacks disrupt strongholds of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the tribal areas, the insurgents are striking deeper into Pakistan -- both in retaliation and in search of new havens. … Bruce Riedel, who led the Obama administration’s recently completed strategy review of Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the Taliban now had ‘extensive links into the Punjab.’ ”

The Petraeus strategy has strengthened radical Islamic groups within Pakistan.

On April 20, The Washington Post reported that “a suspected U.S. missile strike killed three people at a Taliban compound in the South Waziristan tribal region; such attacks have become a powerful recruitment tool for extremist groups in Pakistan as anti-American sentiment builds.” Extremist success has worked to “create an arc of radical religious energy between the turbulent, Taliban-plagued northwest region and the increasingly vulnerable federal capital, less than 100 miles to the east. They [extremists] also appeared to pose a direct, unprecedented religious challenge to modern state authority in the Muslim nation of 176 million.”

Post columnist David Ignatius reported on an April meeting between regional envoy Richard Holbrooke and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen with Waziristan tribal leaders: “ `We are all Taliban,’ ” one young man said -- meaning that people in his region support the cause, if not the terrorist tactics. He explained that the insurgency is spreading in Pakistan, not because of proselytizing by leaders such as Baitullah Mehsud but because of popular anger. For every militant killed by a U.S. Predator drone, he says, 10 more will join the insurgent cause. ... `You can’t come see the people because they hate you,’ he warned.”

Counterinsurgency adviser Kilcullen has warned that the drone war “has created a siege mentality among Pakistani civilians ... [is] now exciting visceral opposition across a broad spectrum of Pakistani opinion in Punjab and Sindh, the nation’s two most populous provinces. ... ”

The Petraeus strategy has also strengthened al-Qaida.

Al-Qaida’s success in Pakistan -- including attracting recruits and joining forces with local extremists -- makes it unclear whether the terror network would even bother to return to Afghanistan should the Taliban regain power there. A senior intelligence official told The New York Times that “recent successes by the Taliban in extending territorial gains could foreshadow the creation of `mini-Afghanistans’ around Pakistan that would allow militants even more freedom to plot attacks.” Al-Qaida would presumably be as welcome in such new “mini-Afghanistans” as it is presently in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier, and even safer.

Petraeus’ strategy is increasing support for a “Pashtunistan,” threatening Pakistan and Afghanistan’s survival.

By attacking Pashtuns in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, Petraeus is increasing local support for a radical Islamic entity combining the 13 million Afghan and 28 million Pakistani Pashtuns on either side of the artificial Durand Line dividing the two countries. As Selig Harrison wrote in The Washington Post on May 11: “It is equally plausible that the result could be what Pakistani ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani has called an `Islamic Pashtunistan.’ On March 1, 2007, Haqqani’s Pashtun predecessor as ambassador, the retired Maj. Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani, said at a seminar at the Pakistan Embassy, `I hope the Taliban and Pashtun nationalism don’t merge. If that happens, we’ve had it, and we’re on the verge of that.’ ”

Petraeus’ strategy helped push the Pakistani military into a disastrous military operation that is strengthening the government’s enemies over the long term.

As Kilcullen has noted,“Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies must be defeated by indigenous forces -- not from the United States, and not even from Punjab, but from the parts of Pakistan in which they now hide. Drone strikes make this harder, not easier.” All observers agree that if Pakistan is to be stabilized, the Pakistani military will need to shift its priorities from defending against India and learn to wage an effective counterinsurgency war within Pakistan.

Petraeus’ blunders and U.S. threats to withhold military and economic aid have helped force the clearly unprepared Pakistani military into premature fighting in the Swat Valley, creating 2 million refugees in the process -- what the United Nations, quoted in the Guardian, dubbed “the world’s most dramatic displacement crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994.” Even if the Pakistani military succeeds in retaking Swat, it has alienated much of the local population with heavy bombardment. And it is unlikely to defeat the Taliban in the long run, as the Post explained on May 24: “Highlighting the difficulty, some extremists are simply melting back into the civilian population so they can fight another day, as they have during previous clashes over the past 18 months in Swat.”

A “senior [Obama] administration official who is closely following the Pakistani military operations in Swat, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid offending the visiting Pakistani leaders,” was even more blunt, telling the Times on May 6 that the Pakistan military is “fundamentally not organized, trained or equipped for what they’ve been asked to do. ... They will displace the Taliban for a while. But there will also be a lot of displaced persons and a lot of collateral damage. And they won’t be able to sustain those effects or extend the gains geographically.”

There is also growing concern that the military’s mismanaged offensive will actually strengthen extremist forces, reports the Post: “Concern is growing that this latest wave of displacement will create a fresh crop of Pakistanis with grievances against the government and loyalty to groups that seek to undermine the state through violent insurgency. ... Outside the camps, groups with radical Islamist agendas are rushing to fill the void left by the paucity of government services.”

The most alarming aspect of the present situation is not only that Gen. Petraeus has shown no awareness of his “Af-Pak” strategy’s failure but is clearly intending to expand it, beginning this summer when U.S. troop strength reaches 58,000. Petraeus and McChrystal are planning for an increase in attacks upon Taliban strongholds, which will inevitably lead to greater U.S. efforts to deny the Taliban a haven in Pakistan.

Petraeus told the N.Y. Post on May 19: “Expect tough fighting. As we and our allies launch operations to improve security, the enemy will fight back. When we launched the `surge of offensives’ in Iraq, al Qaeda-Iraq elements sought to retain their sanctuaries and safe havens. We experienced tough combat. We’ll see the same in Afghanistan.”

Ignatius reported a few days earlier that “Petraeus’s plan in Afghanistan is to hit the enemy very hard this year with the additional 21,000 troops President Obama has approved -- and then see if the Taliban coalition begins to crack. Much greater violence is ahead initially, as the United States attacks Taliban sanctuaries in the south.”

There are also indications that Petraeus is planning deeper incursions into Pakistan in support of these efforts. The New York Times ran a story in March saying: “In separate reports, groups led by both Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan, have recommended expanding American operations outside the tribal areas if Pakistan cannot root out the strengthening insurgency.” These operations would “strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.”

Thus, as Petraeus aggressively seeks to destroy the Taliban, he is likely to wind up going after Taliban “sanctuaries and safe havens” in Pakistan, and we can expect a vast expansion of the U.S. special operations that have already done so much to help jihadi forces.

The clearest indication of what Petraeus has in mind is the appointment of his protégé, Gen. McChrystal, to command U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal ran the top-secret JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) in Iraq from 2003 to 2008.

McChrystal’s appointment, according to the Times, was explicitly designed to help expand U.S. operations into Pakistan: “Until now, the successive American generals in charge of the war in Afghanistan have argued that their responsibilities ended at the border with Pakistan. But the choice of a new and very different breed of general to take over the seven-year-old fight may mean the old mind-set has begun to change. ... General McChrystal, with his commando background, is ideally suited to carry out a White House strategy that regards Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of a single, urgent problem. `For him to be successful, he’s going to have [to] fight the war on both sides of the border,’ said Robert Richer, a retired C.I.A. officer who worked with General McChrystal when Mr. Richer was the agency’s head of Middle East operations and assistant director of clandestine operations.”

Bob Woodward wrote in his book “The War Within”: “Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of top secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups such as al Qaeda, the Sunni insurgency and renegade Shia militias, or so-called special groups. ... A number of authoritative sources say these covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. … ” The book goes on to quote praise directed at “Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) responsible for hunting al-Qaida in Iraq. … ”

Placing McChrystal in charge of U.S. Afghanistan forces indicates that Petraeus agrees with Woodward’s report on the success of McChrystal’s tactics, and that they might be applied on a far larger scale in the Af-Pak theater. Reminiscent of the Phoenix assassination program in Vietnam, a program that set weekly quotas on the number of civilians to be killed for supposedly supporting the Viet Cong, McChrystal is known for applying constant pressure on his officers to produce greater numbers of kills, and promoting them on that basis. As former Special Forces officer Roger Carstens noted: “McChrystal kills people. Has he ever worked in the counterinsurgency environment? Not really.”

McChrystal was also known for running the worst torture chambers in Iraq at his “Camp Nama,” (“Nasty Ass Military Area”), and forbidding the Red Cross access to them in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The Times fills in the details of the general’s résumé: “An elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government’s torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. ... According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. `The reality is, there were no rules there,’ another Pentagon official said. ... The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August. ... Since 2003, 34 task force members have been disciplined in some form for mistreating prisoners. ... ” In May of 2006, Esquire interviewed a former Camp Nama interrogator named Jeff: “By his reckoning, at least half of the prisoners were innocent, just random Iraqis who got picked up for one reason or another. Sometimes the evidence against them was so slight, Jeff would go into the interrogation without even knowing their names.”

If McChrystal had little evidence against those he was imprisoning and torturing, it stands to reason he had no more solid grounds to judge those he was assassinating. And it was his teams that were responsible for on-the-ground targeting of the drones that have killed so many civilians. Kilcullen has estimated based on press reports that “over the last three years drone strikes have killed about 14 terrorist leaders. But, according to Pakistani sources, they have also killed some 700 civilians.” McChrystal bears much of the responsibility for this.

However, there has been no outside oversight whatsoever of Gen. McChrystal’s activities in Iraq. He killed, assassinated and tortured countless Iraqis for five years with total impunity. Were international law applied to his activities, he might well be investigated for war crimes rather than rewarded for them. Placing him in charge of 58,000 U.S. troops will ensure that such practices will not only continue but be greatly increased.

His tactics are militarily self-defeating as well as morally questionable. As discussed above, numerous U.S. and Pakistani observers blame such tactics for the growing strength of America’s enemies. The evidence clearly indicates that if Petraeus and McChrystal continue their policies in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, the United States could find itself facing its worst crisis since World War II.

Over the longer term, the nightmare scenarios that could ensue include: the Pakistan government falling and one or more of its 60 to100 nuclear weapons landing in extremists’ hands; rogue elements within the Pakistani military or foreign infiltrators getting control of said weapons; instability leading to limited or greater fighting between Pakistan and India, another nuclear power; civil war within Pakistan leading to tens of millions of refugees and casualties, of which the Swat Valley fiasco would be only a foretaste.

Observers have suggested that the U.S. attempt to gain control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and remove them from the country, should the government be threatened. According to the Times, “As the insurgency of the Taliban and Al Qaeda spreads in Pakistan, senior American officials say they are increasingly concerned about new vulnerabilities for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, including the potential for militants to snatch a weapon in transport or to insert sympathizers into laboratories or fuel-production facilities.”

Unfortunately, the U.S. is unable to gain control of the weapons, for the inconvenient reason that “the United States does not know where all of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are located. ... American officials have never been permitted to see how much of the [American] money [for nuclear safeguards] was spent, the facilities where the weapons are kept or even a tally of how many Pakistan has produced.”

In the event of the imminent collapse of the Pakistani government and nuclear weapons falling into extremist hands, what would the U.S. do? Invade and occupy Pakistan with hundreds of thousands of troops? That would probably require a reinstatement of the draft and possibly ignite an even wider war. Would we threaten an extremist government with our own nukes?

Preventing such nightmare scenarios should be America’s top priority, and reining in Gens. Petraeus and McChrystal is clearly necessary to doing so. Petraeus should be replaced and McChrystal’s nomination defeated if America is to have any serious hope of avoiding disaster in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.

 

 

The articles and letters are the opinion of the writers and are not representing the view of Sabawoon Online.
Copyright © 1996 - 2017 Sabawoon. All rights reserved.