3 SEPTEMBER 2009 -
AFGHANISTAN - WHAT TO DO ABOUT THIS THIRD "VIETNAM"?
As our web site www.dipconsult.eu points out in several places ever since september 2002 we have warned repeatedly all the politicians and media people we know that the Bush/Blair invasion of Iraq would inevitably have disastrous consequences for the occupation of Afghanistan.
Probably the invasion of Afghanistan was politically inevitable given that it was used as a platform for Al Qaeda not only for managing 9/11 but for the preceding terrorists acts.
But it was high risk and the invasion was only successful because it used warlords for success and so the occupation and resultant Afghan government were beholden to them. And Afghanistan's history showed it to be even more opposed to occupation than most countries.
So Bush had only say three years to use his then immense worldwide support to get the funding and international expertise to make a real difference in rebuilding Afghanistan after the Soviet war and the civil wars(s) which followed - not to speak of the devastation caused by thew Taliban.
But against all common sense and the dire warnings of we Cassandras - some very highly placed (like Senators Bird and Kennedy and Brent Scowcroft and our British Robin Cook) - Bush/Blair wrecked then good chances for a crash rebuiding programme in Afghanistan by invading Iraq which then had for years the top priority for troops, expertise, and funding. Perhaps worse was the loss of the wide international support for Bush from virtually every significant nation (including China and Russia and at least tacit support from Muslim countries).
Anti-Americanism soared worldwide - even in the UK. And Afghanistan remained on hold with no takers - not even Nato members - to share the financial and military burden.
By the time Obama came to power Afghanistan was all but lost. He inherited two "Vietnams" - in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem is to leave both countries with the least possible damage to US and Western interests, and indeed to the interests of all countries opposed to international terrorism .
OK - that's the diagnosis. What's to be done? First there has to be a holding operation - no doubt involving temporary increased troop levels. Second there must be far less "collateral damage" - Vietnam was lost more by |"collateral damage" than any other factor - the writer was there twice during the war and found the entire population was anti-American from the President to the girl in the rice field.
Third - Bush's confrontation must be followed by a chastened US seeking international cooperation - not for fighting but for bringing about real change: a) in government, no matter who is proclaimed winner of flawed elections, b)in mounting wherever possible real effective reconstruction that will be felt by every Afghan who benefits. This would be a big incentive to others to want to better heir conditions - what does the Taliban offer? c) the mere re-asssembly of the support Bush had in the beginning in 2001 would go a long way to change the entire situation. Russia and China - and Iran - for example do not want the Taliban back giving a base to Al Qaeda.
Think cooperation as the only means left to try to get America out of this "Vietnam" that Bush made. Think - what would you do if you were Obama? Just pack up and go? Think through the consequences.
But for any success in getting international cooperation, Obama will have to show he really is moving America back to international cooperation and away from confrontation. And that means for starters making a real move to resolve the Israel Palestine running sore by standing up to Israel's hard line government in favour of America's and the world's real interests. Right now that means stopping settlement spread. It is still Palestine that is the recruiting serjeant for Al Qaeda and Muslim extremism.
Maybe it is too late now after Bush .