On 1st December 2009 Barack Obama finally announced his new strategy for Afghanistan and thirty thousand additional troops. This process has taken months because the United States has come to the realisation that it cannot succeed in Afghanistan, in the same way that it could not succeed in Vietnam.
The Soviet Union was comprehensively defeated with more troops than NATO is currently contemplating, and the news of a new counter-insurgency strategy to accompany the extra troops is not new and will utterly fail to win hearts and minds. Similarly the deployment of tens of thousands of troops in Helmand or Kandahar will not stop the insurgency but increase it. For the source of the insurgency stems from the need to resist the foreign invader, something the Afghans have been doing for centuries. As former US diplomat in Afghanistan Matthew Hoh stated the insurgency in Afghanistan only arrived after the US troops did.
Barack Obama’s fundamental argument that occupying Afghanistan makes the US more secure by defeating terrorists is flawed, as only a small amount now reside in Afghanistan. But even if, as they argue, they have now migrated to Pakistan, is Obama really proposing that US forces will have to stay in Afghanistan in perpetuity, just in case they return? Or is he saying that US forces will now be used in Pakistan, where he claims such people now operate?
This latter theory is what most people in Pakistan suspect is the case. This is hardly surprising when most speeches by American leaders on the ‘Af-Pak’ strategy contain veiled threats towards Pakistan – and sometimes not so veiled. The Washington Post said that retired US General James Jones said: “If Pakistan cannot deliver, he warned, the United States may be impelled to use any means at its disposal to rout insurgents based along Pakistan’s western and southern borders with Afghanistan.” It should be clear beyond doubt that the focus of the extra troops and the developing political strategy is to take the war to the cities and towns of Pakistan. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s statements on 29 November demanding Pakistan do more is a clear indication of what will happen in the coming weeks and months.
The continued presence of NATO troops cannot add to developing good governance in Afghanistan – which was meant to be a model of how the West would replace dictatorship and torture chambers with elected leaders and good governance. Afghanistan is now more corrupt than it ever was. And it is not merely the violent occupation, nor Guantanamo Bay or the torture at Abu Ghraib and Bagram that have undermined the west’s moral leadership. It is also poor management and systematic incompetence. Moreover, eight years after the Afghan invasion, the West continues praising corrupt leaders in the region and its support of Zardari, Karzai and Hassina – as well as other regimes in the Middle East – exemplifies the repeated prioritisation of commercial interests over values
Therefore we end by making the following points:
Firstly, all foreign forces and bases must be removed; and western occupation and the centuries old exploitation of resources in the Muslim world must end once and for all. Secondly, the West must end its support for the region’s corrupt leaders. Thirdly, we warn the people of Pakistan that the West now wants to export its war to your streets, towns and cities, and it is only by Pakistan implementing an Islamic system and mobilising its resources that the upcoming attacks on Pakistan can be resisted.
2nd December 2009
15th Dhul Hijjah 1430