Sometime back, President Donald Trump unexpectedly proposed withdrawing 7,000 troops out of the 14,000 American military personnel in Afghanistan. In consequence, the forgotten war in that country is once more being talked about.
During his State of the Union speech, President Trump also opined that great powers don’t fight endless wars. His reproach of fighting “endless wars,” will doubtlessly intensify the attention that is being given to the virtually unending war in Afghanistan.
So far as I have followed the conversation, I haven’t been able to discover a realistic and attainable solution toward ending that war without causing the collapse of Afghanistan’s present political setup and leaving behind a messy civil war.
In my view, the talk about bringing the Afghan war to an honorable close is, under the present conditions, nothing but talk. The politicians and analysts engage in talk simply for talk’s sake.
For example, after concluding long discussions with the Taliban in Doha, America’s Chief Negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, announced he and the Taliban representatives had arrived at a “draft framework” for peace and left Doha to bring the good news to Kabul and Islamabad.
Days later, the Taliban chief representative announced in Moscow: “Unfortunately, when the United States of America invaded the Afghan oppressed nation by lame excuses to topple an Islamic system, this turned the peaceful life and security of the Afghans into disorder; [it] occupied the country, martyred hundreds of thousands of Afghans, displaced similar number and destroyed their villages and houses.” And he added “ … peace has been used as a tactic in Afghanistan, and this is tantamount to throwing dust in the eyes of the people.” This doesn’t sound as if Mr. Khalilzad and the Taliban representative have agreed on anything of substance.
The only person who grasped President Trump’s motivation has, so far, been Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. In a novel approach, he proposed that he was ready to discuss helping reduce America’s military expense in his country.
That is easily said but impossible to realize. Mr. Ghani lacks the money to pay even for a small part of the U.S.’s military outlays in his country. He can’t pay for his own military and police forces and relies on Washington to carry that burden.
By throwing out the idea of Kabul contributing to America’s military cost in Afghanistan, he seems to be trying to draw attention away from the withdrawal part of the discussion and gain time to bring about a more rational examination of Mr. Trump’s articulation. In Kabul, you delay proposals you don’t want to act on. They will invariably be forgotten and the matter is done with. Mr. Ghani might be trying the customary Kabul-specific trick on Washington, hoping it would work there, too.
Seemingly unruffled by Mr. Mueller’s irreversibly progressing investigation, Mr. Trump already ponders over the year 2020. He sees his budgetary deficit in that election year balloon to over $1 trillion and imagines the Democrats hounding him for it. His business background tells him to do something about it now. As part of working toward reducing government expenses, he decides to get rid of that never-ending war in Afghanistan.
Whether President Trump will listen or ignore his advisers, the terrible truth is that there doesn’t exist a realistic and attainable solution for ending that war in one, for all parties, acceptable way. That war is a historically-mandated struggle that deals with transforming a backward society that finds itself incapable of surviving in a world it has missed to adapt to.
Put it simply, Afghanistan, as one of the planets socially most backward nations, is engaged in a civil war that no power on earth can solve. The indispensable reality is that it is up to the Afghans themselves to find the way to evolve their extreme backwardness and adapt to present-day norms.
Those who “talk about” settling the war don’t know Afghanistan’s problem and can’t visualize how to tackle it. And some who realize the task’s complexity, they, for reasons of their own interest, don’t wish this long and tragic war to end, unless the end leaves their interests protected.
For President Trump’s business-oriented mind, it’s important to plug the financial drain.
The strategically destructive side effects of his deed appear to be unimportant. In this — of course, only in this — he resembles the 80% illiterate Afghans to whom nothing really matters. They wonder about the strange happenings around them. However, as long as they can farm their land and take care of their families, they remain incognizant of both the benefit or harm of those events.
The approximate 19% of more-or-less educated Afghans has long convinced itself that America remains in Afghanistan because of the country’s rich mineral resources. Their paranoiac intellect tells them that every day America is loading those valuable assets in its large military planes and flying them out of their country in the dark of night. They firmly concluded that America will only leave their country once it has drained all those riches. They don’t mind a Taliban return to power, believing it would protect them and their interests.
The ones who fear the American military withdrawal from Afghanistan are the warlords, drug kingpins, corrupt politicians and their businessmen buddies. They have grabbed so much land, stolen so much money that they fear the day, when American forces vacate their country. For that day would be their day of reckoning.
Besides, they don’t much care about the geostrategic implications of America’s sudden withdrawal from their country. They neither believe in the future of their country nor in the potential of their region. They simply want to have enough time to prepare their children to safely inherit the leadership task. After that, they leave whatever may come in the hands of the Almighty.
Nasir Shansab has maintained homes, business interests and dual citizenship in both the United States and Afghanistan for the past three decades.
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