Why the US Military Should Pull Out of Afganistan, ASAP

“So, Please, America, Go; Go Now!”

By SHAUKAT QADIR   

Let’s attempt to review the US invasion of Afghanistan from a purely military point of view so as to understand why the US is now only the problem in Afghanistan and can never be even a part of the solution. While I can only speak for the Pakistan army and my years of teaching Operational Strategy (the art of employing large formations in the battlefield), to young aspirants, many of whom rose to ranks far senior than yours truly, I am fairly certain, that while terminology might vary, the essence of this art will be much the same in all militaries of the world.

Begin with the famous Clausewitzian dictum that ‘war is an extension of policy’; which means that all wars are intended to achieve a political purpose; one that was unattainable without going to war. Therefore, a war must have a clearly defined political objective. From this political objective, the military spells out its ‘military aim’; through which the political aim is intended to be achieved. Clearly, therefore, if the political aim is not sufficiently lucid, the military is bound to err in defining the ‘how’, i.e., the military aim.

The US invaded Afghanistan with the announced political aim of “destroying/dismantling Al Quaida and its leadership and, bringing about  regime change to oust the Taliban’s oppressive regime, which was harboring OBL and Al-Quaida”; a moral and laudable aim. If there were also ulterior motives of acquiring strategic bases to encircle the Russian Bear and the emerging threat of China, as well as accessing the untapped resources of Central Asia; why not?

But if this was the political aim, it could not have meant waging a war on the Afghan people or enslaving them; obviously not! What is more, a regime change could only work if it was people-friendly and, if the ulterior motives were to be realized, it would be possible only if the people were happy with the Americans. I have, in earlier articles for CounterPunch, testified to the fact that the US intervention in 2001 was a welcome event for the Afghan who was fed up with Taliban oppression.

So, everything was just right: the environment was favorable, the Afghans wanted to be relieved of the Taliban; even Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, staunch Taliban supporters, backed the US invasion; for whatever reasons. What could possibly go wrong?

But, something obviously did.

In fairness to the American forces, it needs to be pointed out that there is a difficulty to fighting forces that are indistinguishable from the local population; but in this case, the local population would willingly have identified the Taliban supporters to the invading US troops in 2001, if the invading forces had trusted them; unfortunately they didn’t; and are paying the price of that error to date.

What is more, while Americans are generally a friendly, easy-going people; collectively, America is unbelievably arrogant, and its military most so. Military plans therefore, end up being made with the following mindsets: 1) we are superior in all respects; 2) we are indifferent to the loss of lives of the local population; 3) American loss of life is to be minimized at all costs and any hint of threat is to be treated as real, to be responded to with excessive use of force 4) our military machine has the deadliest weapons which can, and will be employed at the discretion of all levels of command; 5) since we are all powerful, we should be able to destroy the enemy in the shortest span of time.

The last of the above is frequently compounded by political expediency. In the case of Afghanistan, Bush (touting his image of a ‘war-time President) was pushing the military to get it over with ASAP.

Had cooler heads prevailed, the invading forces would have delayed the invasion by a couple of months to obtain accurate intelligence of who was who and where was who; but that most invaluable ingredient of all military operations –  intelligence – was missing. Had they bided their time to find out who was where, a number of precise strikes could easily have ‘taken out’ the Al-Quaida and Taliban leadership. Then, with the active support of the locals, Taliban supporters could have been identified and dealt with. Afghans would have been embracing US forces.

But the US went in like the proverbial bull in the china shop, turned loose their allies, the Northern Alliance, who butchered Afghans indiscriminately, as did the invading forces. Those who weren’t butchered were humiliated. American forces were even unaware that in December 2001 they had Mulla Omer surrounded in a village close to Kandahar, from where the intrepid Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar, rescued him on a motorbike, dressing Omer in a woman’s veil.

So, where does the US and the puppet Karzai government stand today in Afghanistan? I narrated the following instances in an earlier article. They are repeated here to emphasize the point I wish to make.

In ‘The Kill Team’, carried by ‘Rolling Stone’ on March 27th this year, Mark Boal revealed the exploits of ‘Bravo Company’, in which, Staff Sergeant David Bram and Corporal Jeremy Morlock on one fine morning, early last year, decided to chalk up kills of innocent Afghans. They picked them at random during their patrols or ‘cordon and search’ operations, took them to a ditch and shot them, collecting tips of little fingers as souvenirs and taking hundreds of photographs. Everyone was in on the ‘kills, many others joined in. the whole company was jubilant, taking photographs of each other with the dead body; one

smiling, the other rakishly smoking a cigarette’

According to Boal, Gen McChrystal and Hamid Karzai learnt of this scandal May last year. Both joined in the cover up, destroying whatever documents, disks, hardware, software, photographs, and any other incriminatory evidence that could be found; while the killing continued.

I wrote in an earlier article of American helicopter borne snipers killing nine children gathering wood outside a village close to Kandahar last year. An ex-Marine immediately described the act as deliberate murder. According to him, with the technology available, there was no possible way for trained snipers to mistake 9 to 13 year olds, gathering wood for armed militants!

After almost a decade of all this, can anyone imagine that the US could purchase Afghan affection with a few dollars or chocolates?

In an article titled, ‘Why did Joe Biden rush to visit Pakistan’, carried by Counterpunch in February, I outlined how the Pakistan army is collaborating with Afghans to assist them in arriving at a joint Afghan solution to their problem, excluding the Americans and, for that matter, Pakistan.

The real problem is that Pentagon and CIA refuse to go and the helpless Obama seems unable to order them to do so. If the US continues to stay on, not only will increasing numbers of Afghans, across the ethnic divide, turn towards the Taliban, as their hate for the US mounts, terrorism in Pakistan will continue, to a lesser degree, but it will be there, and anti-Americanism will continue to rise, also further stoking religious extremism.

So please, my American friends, don’t let your political leaders and the establishment fool you into believing the slogan, “They hate us (Americans) because they envy our freedom.” You have precious little freedom left anyway, but you are hated not for the freedom your parents once had, you are hated because you are denying us our freedom.

So, please, America, go; go now. When you go, Karzai will be found hiding in one of your C-130s and the Indians in the Pashtun region of Afghanistan will not be slow to follow suit. GO. NOW. And if you need an exit strategy, I can suggest one.

Shaukat Qadir is a retired brigadier and a former president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.

NOTE:This is a cross post from COUNTER PUNCH.

 


 

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Comments

  • S U Turkman  On April 12, 2011 at 1:54 am

    QADIR wrote: “If there were also ulterior motives of acquiring strategic bases to encircle the Russian Bear and the emerging threat of China, as well as accessing the untapped resources of Central Asia; why not?”
    .
    TURKMAN: Your Military Philosophy is WW II kind. USA that never tried to engage USSR in any direct Military confrontation would do that now? Those days are gone. A Super Power war had not remained Traditional Warfare more than half a century ago. Now it can only be fought with ICBMs, not like US or Pakistan’s 1996 covert Invasion or USA’s open invasion of Afghanistan.
    * Is USA not sitting not far from Beijing in S Korea, Japan and Taiwn?
    * Why would USA land in Afghanistan thousands of miles from Biejing?
    * What ‘untapped resources’ countries north of Afghanistan have that Qatar a tiny country of 900,000 does not have?
    * Why would USA not take over Qatar instead, Brigadier?
    .
    QADIR wrote: ” … US is now only the problem in Afghanistan …”
    .
    TURKMAN: … for your Pakistani Irregular part of Pak Army that you people do not admit to own, called Taliban, not for Afghans.
    * Who the hell are you to comment on Afghanistan?
    * Is not Afghanistan an independent nation and not a part of Pakistan?
    * Then, what’s your business commenting on it, when its not a province of Pakistan?
    * Why do you think the world thinks, Taliban created, trained, armed, bankrolled and infiltrated in to Afghanistan in 1996 with one Division of Pak Army and now infiltrated in to Afghanistan, paid Pensions if they die and paid Bounty for killing every Foreign Troop in Afghanistan and Pak Army are not ‘the Problem’ in Afghanistan?
    Since your mentality and General Knowledge is so low, I am not even going to care to read rest of your B.S.
    ‘Death to Savage Pakistani Enemies of Afghans …!’
    ‘Death to Savage Pakistani Enemies of Afghanistan …!’
    ‘Death to incompetent Savage Pakistani Enemies of Pak and Afghan Moslim, who kill 20 of them before they kill one American …!’
    ‘Death to Mercenaries of almost all Punjabi Army of Pakistan, the biggest killer of Moslims in South Asia, the killer of Bengalis, PushToons, Sindhis, Afghans, Balochis, Saraikis, Kashmiris, Baltistanis and Gilgitis …!’
    ‘Death to killers of millions of Moslims in the name of Islam, that they do not practice right themself …!’

  • Pagal  On April 12, 2011 at 5:11 am

    The author forgets the notion of an endless war this war is not supposed to end It has been going on continousy since 1992

  • Nadeem  On April 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Solid rationale and excellent advice.

    Nadeem Kausar

  • Nasim Hassan  On April 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Frineds:

    Pakistan has not done its job well to convince Americans or Europeans. The elite of Pakistan gets their share and their children are well settled in Europe or North America. The common people particularly the poor masses are paying the price. Here is what Pakistani civil society can do.

    – The civil society should speak with one voice and agree on few simple things.

    – The citizens of Pakistan of all ethnic, religious and provincial affiliation should agree on one single issue.

    The first issue that must be included is the stoppage of drone attacks. I believe innocent civilians are invariably killed along with Alqaida members. For Americans it is a collateral damage. Americans do not mind at all this collateral damage if it reduces their losses.

    What they do not understand is that for one innocent person killed there are ten more Jehadis born. These Jehadi believe Pakistan is siding with the Aggressor so first take revenge from Pakistanis.

    Pakistanis have to educate Europeans that there is unending supply of Jehadi people due to Drone attacks. Only Europeans can perhaps educate Americans.

    Nasim Hassan

  • S U Turkman  On April 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    That’s right Mr. Hasan, the Talib.
    Pakistanis should agree there should be no Drone Attacks on their Killers, the Pak Army Mercenaries called Taliban though they kill only one American using our soil to attack Americans after killing 20 of us and Afghans because Pakistanis love to be killed by them in thousands every year and they know they are just a Collateral Damage in war against the Non Moslims of the world.

  • Haroon Wasti  On April 13, 2011 at 1:08 am

    Thanks. Very sensible. As if the US will pull out of Afg. just because some one is showing them the day light.?

    Wonder, what our friend Brig (R) S.Q knows , why the Govt. and the serving brass does not know ? If they know it and are not coming out of the entire fiasco then what are the reasons ? Personal or national ?
    Let us blame Politicians again being the best pass time after world cup.

    Haroon Wasti

    • Kamal Khan  On April 13, 2011 at 1:09 am

      I agree with Shaukat Qadir Sahib Plus one more point if you all remember Last year i did say that USA will be running out of Afghanistan calling it a “Handover or Power” or “tactical
      whatnot ” some excuse anyways. 90% Area of Afghanistan is still not in NATO’s control let alone that whenever the Taliban/AL Qaida or whatever USA puts a name to them can come into kabul and do Mayhem and Retreat (Doing This at Will). Like Russia Lost in Afghanistan so will USA but i am 10000% certain that they will retreat/handover power/run away within the next 3 years i did say 2015 but now i say 2014… They are Losing face badly. Not to mention Body bags which are “NOT” reported plus in their frustration they have started killing civilians.

      KK

  • S U Turkman  On April 13, 2011 at 2:49 am

    Oh yeah, yeah, Kamal. Its just a strange Phenomena that neither Karzai’s Army and Police controls 90% of Afghanistan nor NATO and almost whole Afghanistan is controlled by your Pakistani Mercenaries of Pak Army called Taliban but Elections have been held twice and heavy majority of Eligible Afghans have participated in them despite Death Threats from Taliban who control 90% of Afghanistan.
    * Could you please tell us now, what kind of control your Taliban have in Afghanistan, when even their Death Threats do not work?
    * If your Taliban are really Afghans and not Pakistanis or some Taliban working as ISI Mercenaries, why they never even slate one candidate in Afghan Assembly Elections?
    * If Afghans really love your Taliban and they are Afghans, why have never ran in Elections to take over Afghanistan democratic way?
    * Why USA has to leave so, your Taliban can enter Afghanistan from Pakistan to take over Afghanistan with the help of Pak Army just like in 1996?
    * What the hell is your business even talking about, what should be done in Afghanistan, when its not your country?

    “Russia lost Afghanistan?”
    You mean you never heard of USSR’s announcement that it was pulling out of Afghanistan?
    When had Russia won Afghanistan and from whom?
    .
    Merg ber Pakistani dooshmanaany Afghaniyaanaan …!
    Merg ber Pakistani dooshmanaany Afghanistan …!

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