Saturday, April 30, 2016

Retreat from Afghanistan: USA Beware * 67

Jun 26th, 2013

The Retreat from Afghanistan will just change the Frontier

Afghanistan is a country that has only been subdued twice in its history. The first time was when Alexander the Great invaded Afghanistan and subdued the tribes and the second occasion was when the Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa conquered the Afghans and created fear in their minds. The British and later the Russians failed as also the United States.
The USA has completed 15 years in Afghanistan and victory is as elusive as catching an eel in one's hand. America has now decided to withdraw from Afghanistan and there is the fond hope that the Afghan government armed and trained by the US army will be able to hold its own against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. This reminds me of Vietnam when the same thoughts went through the mind of Nixon. The result was catastrophic as the US-backed South Vietnam government collapsed in no time and the entire state was unified with North Vietnam.
But here the similarity ends as the battle in Vietnam was not a religious war and now the Vietnamese are welcoming Americans as tourists and investors. The war in Afghanistan is a religious war where the hard-line Islamic groups have branded America as the 'Great Satan' American withdrawal from Afghanistan will not end the war between the Islamic groups and the USA , only the frontier will be changed closer to American shores.
The reason is not far to seek as most Muslims in the Middle east are not too enamored of America. Iran is breathing fire and hard-line Islamic groups in Pakistan routinely denounce the USA. Many Americans have been beheaded in this war. Retreating from Afghanistan will just mean changing the goal post and making it closer to America.
A religious war is different from a normal war. Here the religious zeal however misplaced is the driving force. In particular ,the dream as enunciated in the Koran of beautiful virgins for the Jihad groups adds its own connotation to this conflict.
The US think tank must understand that a retreat from Afghanistan will not solve America's problems. The recent coordinated attacks all over Afghanistan are a pointer. This happened when NATO and the USA are still there. Once they exit in totality, the hard line Militant groups will take over in no time. That will be the signal to shift the war to another frontier.
However with Trump on the horizon and in case he wins the Afghan problem will be looked afresh.