23 September 2009
President Obama, not the generals must of course be the one to decide the strategy for Afghanistan. Following our Sept 7 blog (below) here is a follow up on an Alternet item today:
Yes, of course it is vital that the US President and not the generals make that key tactical decision over Afghanistan.
No nation will for long accept military occupation by another - most particularly Afghanistan. Probably any American president would have invaded Afghanistan after "9/11" and the Taliban government's refusal to co-operate over Al Qaeda, particularly when an invasion had world-wide support or at least tacit acceptance.
But success obviously depended on keeping that support, and instituting a crash programme to rebuild Afghanistan after crippling decades of war. A crash programme because the occupation, no matter how beneficial to the inhabitants, would lose popular support after 3 - 4 years.
But probably only President G W Bush would have invaded Iraq in order to realise the neo-conservatives' Project for a New American Century (PNAC). The master idea was that occupying Iraq would give the US strategic control over the Middle East and thus clinch the attempt to ensure American planetary hegemony - or uni-polar world.
For reasons we among many others warned about in 2002, Iraq imploded and became the quagmire - or "Vietnam" - it remains.
Forced by the deadly consequences of the invasion to give Iraq total priority over Afghanistan, there was little rebuilding and growing opposition to the occupation now dragging into its 7th year.
It is probably too late now for any American administration to pacify Afghanistan. The only hope must be to internationalise the stabilisation of Afghanistan by re-assembling so far as possible that world-wide support G W Bush enjoyed before he threw it away in Iraq.
This is not impossible - for all countries that matter, from Russia and China to Iran, India and Pakistan - including the Arabs and Israel - have a major national interest in a stable Afghanistan and the suppression of international terrorism.
What is needed is the political wisdom to see that the generals cannot achieve this. But they can perhaps buy some time while such international support is gathered. The signs are that President Obama is working in this direction. But he needs that limited time and a great deal of support from his allies - and (perhaps the key to wider support), from Russia.
Sadly the US itself is so bitterly divided. Too few Americans give wholehearted support to the extraordinarily able president whom they have elected.