Wars are rarely lost in a single encounter; Defeat is almost always more complex than that. The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have lost the war in Afghanistan, but not just because they failed in the battle for Marjah or decided that discretion was the better part of valor in Kandahar. They lost the war because they should never have invaded in the first place; because they never had a goal that was achievable; because their blood and capital are finite.
The Times claims that Pakistan’s inequitable tax system helps drive the insurgency, but offers no proof.
You wouldn’t be surprised that the Ghazi force, and not the Taliban, are behind recent attacks in Pakistan’s capital city if you knew the story of the Red Mosque and its late leader.
Some CIA officers involved in the agency’s drone strikes program in Pakistan and elsewhere are privately expressing their opposition to the program within the agency, because it is helping al Qaeda and its allies recruit.
Has the drone war in Pakistan’s rugged frontier finally come home? Was Faisal Shahzad, the bumbling Times Square bomb maker, a blowback from the Obama administration’s increased use of killer robots? David Sanger of The New York Times asks the question, and the New York Post says an “anonymous law enforcement” source claims Shahzad was driven to his act after witnessing drone attacks in Pakistan.
Turning Afghanistan over to the Taliban may actually be a win-win situation for the United States.
The competing assertions about Times Square-bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad’s links relationship with Pakistani Taliban reflects a broader debate both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and Pakistan over how to handle Taliban elements in Waziristan province.
It has been a grim start to the New Year and the new decade in South Asia. Vested interests, hardened obsessions, and old habits continue to push India and Pakistan in the direction of ruinous conflict. While military planners in both countries plan and prepare for the next war, politicians and diplomats remain determined not to talk except on their own terms.
President Barack Obama recently announced an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, outlining plans to send an additional 30,000 troops. In search of an “end game,” he also declared that the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan would end in the summer of 2011, though the administration has since stated this will be a long and slowly phased withdrawal. The additional troops — even had they been the 40,000 originally requested by General Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander in Afghanistan — will be unable to score a military victory. Washington realizes that military force is not enough, particularly in the face of the loss of public support in the United States and the recent failure of democratic elections in Afghanistan. The end game will require a political settlement.
When President Barack Obama laid out his plan for winning the war in Afghanistan, behind him stood an army of ghosts: Greeks, Mongols, Buddhists, British, and Russians, all whom had almost the same illusions as the current resident of the Oval Office about Central Asia. The first four armies are dust. But there are Russian survivors of the 1979-89 war that ended up killing 15,000 Soviets and hundreds of thousands of Afghans as well as virtually wrecking Moscow’s economy.