Sunday, October 18, 2015

Afghanistan: Retreat or Stay ? * 74

Afghanistan is a Test Case for the USA

The Future and the USA

The Scenario at the end of World war II
The Second World War ended in 1945 and after that the sad fact is that the USA has been at the receiving end of most wars it has fought. It all started with the Korean War which lasted 3 years and took the head of General MacArthur. But the result was a stalemate and after 3 years of fighting the USA had nothing to show. North Korea remained and the border remained at the 38th parallel. In effect the war in Korea was not a decisive victory for the USA which had to settle for an armistice with the communist powers. Over the decades the situation has not changed and North Korea and china remain the bigbears as before.
Vietnam War
Next was the Vietnam War. It ended in an ignoble retreat, something that US arms can never forget. 12 years of fighting ended in a whimper, for as it turned out the USA had backed the wrong horse. Despite all the air effort of carpet bombing by B-52's of the US Air Force , North Vietnam did not buckle down. On the ground despite great acts of individual bravery, the US army had no answer to the Viet Cong and the result was a defeat. Lyndon B Johnson must take the blame for a misreading of Vietnam and his decision after the Tonkin Gulf incident to escalate the war boomeranged badly on the USA. General Westmoreland was the man who presided over the defeat.
Iraq and the AfterMath
The Iraq war is touted as a victory. Is it? The situation there is more volatile than when Saddam ruled. Now the entire country is in the grip of anarchy with bombs and terror attacks a byword. What if an Islamic regime is ushered in? The fat will then be in the fire. The US embassy in Baghdad is like a fortress: a sad commentary on the US war effort in Iraq, that no American diplomat can walk the streets of Baghdad free and unhindered.
Afghanistan: The Last frontier
Now we come to Afghanistan. Here again the USA was in a bind and looking for a way to get out of this morass. A decision to withdraw was taken by President Obama after he and the US army realized that 11 years of fighting in Afghanistan had led to no results and no objective achieved.
But a withdrawal here will have far reaching effects. The Islamic militants supported by Pakistan will be emboldened and the next step will be an attack on the American home land. America's retreat from Afghanistan is a black mark. It cannot be categorized as anthing else. One reason is the US will to fight a long war has evaporated. Obama would like to keep some troops to train the Afghan army after the bulk withdraws. But the same thing happened in Vietnam and the moment the Americans left the Vietcong over ran the government in Saigon.
What is the USA to do in Afghanistan? The choice was clear cut. Stay and fight or retreat. Unfortunately the USA has decided to withdraw an euphemism for a retreat. The road now appears clear for the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The future
Its about time Obama weighed his options. The choices are hard, but he cannot throw in the towel. He realizes teh situation but the ground realities are not what 11 years of fighting can show. President Karzai is exiting and another general election for President is on. The Afghan people have voted in thousands defying the diktat of the Taliban and al Qaeda who had asked them to boycott the polls. This is a heartening situation, but in Afghanistan the gun rules and despite the Afghan people wanting a new dispensation, the chances that the country will still slip into anarchy are pretty bright.
Last Word
The USA cannot afford to return from Afghanistan empty handed. Obama and the new President must work out a viable solution to curtail the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Maybe a new President one years hence may have a different solution. The fact remains that Afghanistan is a test case for the USA and future world history may well be written as to how the USA faced the problem in Afghanistan.