December 28, 2010

Whistling past the graveyard....... FB Ali from Sic Semper Tyrannis by turcopolier

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Whistling past the graveyard....... FB Ali -
The graveyard of empires, that is. The Obama administration’s recent review of the Afghan war amounts essentially to little more than that. The bizarre aim of the war, formulated by Obama in 2009, is repeated: dismantling al-Qaeda! This weirdness permeates the whole report. It mentions, almost in passing, the two main pre-requisites for success (eradicating insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan, and establishing half-decent governance in Afghanistan) and then, without coming to grips with them, hurries on to claim all-round “progress” in the war. While this published overview is obviously a (rather futile) PR exercise, there is no evidence that the full review was any more realistic.

The US has now been fighting this war for nine years, and is prepared to continue it for another four; it presently has some 100,000 US soldiers fighting there at an annual cost of some 100 billion dollars. All in order to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda? Al-Qaeda? In Afghanistan and Pakistan? The ridiculousness of this proposition compelled Joe Biden a few days later to publicly clarify that he, at least, knows that, whatever the danger from AQ, it doesn’t come from this region.

Whatever the real aim, achieving some kind of military victory in Afghanistan requires, as an essential prerequisite, the suppression of insurgent bases and sanctuaries in Pakistan. This has to be done by Pakistan, since it will not allow the US to do it. The review indicates that the US proposes to continue its past policies to get Pakistan to do this, namely, the carrot of aid and engagement, and the stick of pressure and threats. The administration has obviously not accepted the reality that these will never work, as so clearly enunciated in September 2009 by then US Ambassador in Islamabad, Anne Patterson. The reality is that this Pakistani policy is based on its national security needs, and it will not be bribed or bullied into abandoning it.

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