Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration, New Directions (International Crisis Group)

Terwijl de VS binnenkort hun nieuwe strategie zullen ontvouwen, komt de gerenomeerde International Crisis Group al met haar adviezen. Sommige daarvan zullen de Amerikanen niet aanstaan – bijv. ‘niet met de opstandelingen onderhandelen’ – maar zij zullen blij zijn met het advies om geen buitenlandse missies terug te trekken.
Ik ben (ook) tegen de huidige militaire strategie – omdat die contra-productief is – en neigde tot een voorkeur tot terugtrekking, maar geloof nu dat zulks inderdaad onverstandig zou zijn. Veel hangt echter af van de Amerikaanse pogingen om Pakistan te stabiliseren. Ook zou een oorlog tegen Iran de ontwikkelingen in Afghanistan en Pakistan ontwrichten – kan Obama Israel afhouden van een ‘preventieve’ aanval op Iran? En zal het Amerikaanse volk de immense defensieuitgaven blijven opbrengen?

Overview Seven years after the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan the country is still at war against extremists and has developed few resilient institutions. A policy review by the Obama administration has reopened debate about how to defeat the forces of violent global jihadism – al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors – in Afghanistan and in neighbouring Pakistan. In most cases, the ideas on offer – from declaring victory and pulling out, to negotiating with the insurgents, to organising regional conferences, to prioritising relationships with favoured individuals and allies over the development of strong democratic institutions – have been tried at least once in the past two decades, with no success: we know now what not to do.

Knowing what to do, and how to do it, is harder. What is needed in Afghanistan is the creation of a resilient state, which will only emerge if moderate forces and democratic norms are strengthened and robust institutions are built that can uphold and are accountable to the rule of law. Only when citizens perceive the state as legitimate and capable of delivering security, good governance and rule of law will Afghans be able to resist jihadi pressures and overtures. The Afghanistan crisis is the outcome of decades of internal conflict. No short-term solution will resolve the crisis overnight. Time and patience are needed to build the infrastructure and institutions to stabilise the Afghan state and root out the jihadi networks.

While it has made military gains, the Taliban today enjoys little support among an Afghan public tired of war. Its leadership does not command a significant standing army; indeed the Taliban is a disparate network of groups using the name as they pursue different agendas. Disillusionment with both the international community and the state has grown but the vast majority of people remain far more fearful of what would happen if foreign troops were to leave rather than stay. Strengthening popular support and goodwill should be the heart of the counter-insurgency and the creation of a resilient state.

It will be impossible to root out al-Qaeda and other extremist networks without tackling not only the local but also the regional conditions that nurture and sustain them. The Taliban and other jihadis like the Hizb-e Islami and the Haqqani network do not have deep local and popular roots. They are the outgrowth of years of civil war and the Pakistani military’s support to Islamist militant groups, dating back to the U.S.-led anti-Soviet jihad during the 1980s. Militant networks in neighbouring Pakistan today spawn new groups that are increasingly focused not only on undermining the new civilian government there, but also on carrying out attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan and India.

The narrow focus on confronting al-Qaeda through counter-terrorism measures often characterised by aggressive military action, arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate raids and house searches in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan has not only failed to reduce religious extremism, but fuelled local discontent and violence.

What Should Be Done..

What Should Not Be Done

+ Negotiations with jihadi groups, especially from a position of weakness: While the possibility should not be excluded of identifying and negotiating with Afghan insurgent groups prepared to abandon their jihadi ambitions, lay down arms, and accept the Afghan constitution and rule of law, great caution is appropriate. Numerous peace agreements with jihadi groups and networks, in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, have broken down within months. In each case they have enhanced the power and activities of violent insurgents while doing nothing to build sustainable institutions. While agreement may be reached not to attack Afghan or Pakistani forces, violence then tends to be directed at others, mostly unarmed civilians, until agreements break down and insurgents once again target security institutions…

+ Pulling out: Withdrawing international troops with the threat that any regrouping of jihadis or al-Qaeda can be countered by air power and special forces would simply return the country to the control of jihadis. Air power has not proven successful against insurgents or terrorist bases. Neglect would allow the region to descend into further chaos, as it did in the 1990s…

Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration, New Directions (International Crisis Group)

While the Obama administration seeks to improve America’s position vis-à-vis Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine, Europe, and Asia, the most critical foreign-policy front of all – the home front—is looking brittle. This development is new, as for almost seven decades – ever since Pearl Harbor—policymakers have taken for granted that the homefront would cooperate with military missions and expenditures. America could build ships, planes, and tanks, and assert itself as the pivotal outside power in many parts of the world, and the home front (despite sometimes outspoken political opposition, as during the Vietnam War) would financially support those efforts. This held true from the time of the end of the Great Depression right up until the onset of our current great recession. The emergencies of World War II and the early Cold War years, coupled with a constantly expanding economy, allowed the home front to write blank checks for our endeavors abroad. But the big question in foreign policy today is, Will this continue in the face of the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s?..

The Shrinking Superpower – Why the recession could spell the end of American dominance (by Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic)

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States attacked Western governments fighting in and providing billions in aid to his country, saying that those who claim the international community is not winning the war against extremists there "should know that they never fully tried."..

He said negotiations with the Taliban should be conducted by the Afghan government and should be withheld until it was in a "position of strength." President Obama, in a New York Times interview last week, echoed numerous administration and U.S. military officials in suggesting that the United States seek negotiations with "reconcilable" Taliban elements.

Obama also said the United States and NATO were not winning the war in Afghanistan and spoke favorably of U.S. military plans to bolster Afghan tribal forces to participate in the war against extremists — a policy seen as successful in Iraq and being tried in pilot programs in Afghanistan. Jawad said yesterday that such plans "will not work" and would undermine the country’s stability.

Jawad’s remarks, in an address last night at Harvard University, were a forceful public expression of issues privately raised here last month with the Obama administration by a top-level national security delegation from President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Jawad accused those aiding Afghanistan of "total negligence" in building the Afghan police force and judicial system, "under-investment" in the national army, and providing "meager resources" devoted to helping the Afghan government deliver services and protect its citizens.,,

Afghan Envoy Assails Western Allies as Halfhearted, Defeatist (Karen de Young in The Washington Post)

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One thought on “Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration, New Directions (International Crisis Group)

  1. Alle pogingen van de VS / Het Westen om invloed uit te oefenen in het gebied zullen als voeding dienen om het verzet tegen deze bemoeienis of bezetting te versterken.

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