Latest post on Left Futures

Afghanistan: another step closer to the endgame

Continuing the unwinnable struggle in Afghanistan is hardly a viable option, from either a military or political standpoint. So the revelation of president Hamid Karzai, confirmed over the weekend by US defence secretary Robert Gates, that contacts have been established with the Taliban hardly come as a major surprise. Indeed, even last year there were reports that back channel negotiations were already underway.

A decade after the NATO invasion, which I opposed at the time and continue to oppose now, the presumption is that all sides are looking for some way out of a conflict that has long since lost any semblance of a rationale.

If the Taliban are not winning on the battlefield itself, they are certainly not losing, either. The Financial Times this morning tells us that its influence is growing in the north the country, and that it is even in the process of setting up shadow governments in the areas it controls.

Meanwhile, foreign troops have been reduced to sitting ducks – or more accurately, walking ducks – for the benefit of roadside IEDs. Even if the word ‘victory’ had any meaning in the local context, it would serve no worthwhile purpose.

While Afghanistan was once an operational base for Al Qa’eda, Osama Bin Laden is now dead, and his successors retain numerous strategic options. The west cannot occupy every failed state or every province beyond government control, everywhere throughout the Muslim world.

Nor is it possible to buy the argument that the fight must be taken Helmand to prevent terror coming to the streets of Britain. After all, the perpetrators of Islamist attacks on London and Glasgow hailed from Leeds and Aylesbury, not Kandahar or Mazar-e Sharif.

The final irony is that the imbroglio forces the US and the UK to uphold the government of an abysmally corrupt election-rigger with at best limited support as the exemplar of a better alternative to the rule of medievalist theocratic reactionaries.

The most likely prospectus now is for withdrawal as soon as some coalition of Karzai and what are described as the ‘moderate’ wing of the Taliban can be cobbled together. Nobody would put money on such an administration lasting for any length of time.

While all estimates are contentious, there is no serious doubt that this misguided adventure has cost tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. Even its proponents will be hard pushed to list its concrete long-term achievements. I suspect the verdict of history will not be sparing.

One Comment

  1. Leila says:

    The problem they all face is that if they were to withdraw, the billions and billions of dollars and lives lost would be seen as ‘wasted,’ and people would have died in vain.
    So, they keep fighting.

© 2024 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma