Afghanistan: Quagmire of NATO Forces

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seyed Hamed Hossein Miri

The new American administration intends to dispatch 20 to 30 thousand more troops to Afghanistan in a near future.

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a press conference in Kabul: “Some 20,000 to 30,000 is the window of overall increase from where we are right now. I don’t have an exact number. We’re looking to get them here in the spring, but certainly by the beginning of summer at the latest.”

After an initial reinforcement of some 3,000 U.S. troops to the south of Kabul in January, most of the extra deployment will be to the south to bolster British, Canadian and Dutch forces that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently are just "holding their own" in the fight with the resurgent Taliban. "That's where the toughest fight is," said Mullen, according to Reuters.

It is to be noted that the US has already more than 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and has suffered high casualties and losses in the past year. The policy of increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan has been adopted by the American president-elect Barack Obama. During a visit to Afghanistan in summer, Obama had announced that he would send tens of thousands of fresh forces to Afghanistan if he won the presidential race.

Nonetheless, many political experts believe Obama’s Afghan strategy is already doomed to failure because in the opinion of many Western strategists, the issue of Afghanistan has no military solution and the longstanding crisis in the country would not be resolved through militarism.

Undoubtedly, despite the constant presence of American, NATO and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces which add up to 70,000 plus, we are witnessing the worsening of political, security, economic and social conditions in Afghanistan.

Interestingly, the philosophy behind the presence of those forces in Afghanistan was to establish security and reconstruct the devastations caused by the occupation of the aggressor Red Army of the former Soviet Union and the ensuing internal wars. But in practice, the US claims in Afghanistan have proved ineffective and backfired.  

After the suspicious 9/11 incidents, the then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon, clearly stated that the US would send troops to Afghanistan to clean up the country of terrorists. He compared Afghanistan to a quagmire where various kinds of harmful bugs had kenneled and would not leave the US officials at the White House alone!

Obviously with the lapse of eight years since then, not only the policies of the US and 40 of its allies present in Afghanistan for the “war on terror” have not gained any success but we are instead witnessing increasing unrest as a result of the wrong US strategies throughout Afghanistan and even in the neighboring countries. According to figures issued by the United Nations, only in the past Christian year there were 170 instances of suicide operations against foreign troops in Afghanistan.

It is an open secret that throughout the history of its struggle, the Afghan nation has never been colonized by any power. Arnold Twinby, the renowned British historian has said about Afghanistan that the country has witnessed the bloody presence of conquerors throughout history but has never become the colony of any power.

Over centuries, Afghanistan has been invaded by global powers time and again but none of the said powers have been able to benefit from their aggression and occupation. In the 19th century, the old British colonialism occupied Afghanistan three times. Also, the former Soviet Union occupied the country at the end of the 20th century. And now, on the threshold of the 21st century, the US and the NATO member states are repeating the same mistakes but the more they try the less they achieve.

The only reason for the failure of the foreign forces in Afghanistan is the interwoven fabric of traditional-tribal life and the high morale of the people in negating aliens. As Afghanistan was turned into a quagmire for the occupier British and Soviet forces and they were forced to withdraw from the country, relying on the historical experience of Afghanistan, no other fate is imaginable for the American and NATO troops either.


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