US setting objective before planning:
The raging American desire of demonstrable achievements, if not victory, in
- Rush for results; and
- Lack of clarity on who is the real enemy.
Think tankers and officials alike continue churning out security assessments and scenarios for
Things gone awry in Operation Enduring Freedom:
Special Envoy Richard Holbrook’s latest Islamabad visit, to be followed up by secretary of state Hilary Clinton next month, also underscore that panic in an extremely volatile situation; the official American casualty toll has just touched 1108, and a UN report released over the weekend points to “ alarming increases in suicide bombings and a 45 percent increase in assassinations of government officials in a three-month period ending June 16, and almost doubling of roadside bombings for the first four months of 2010.
Deadly suicide bombings, according to the UN, tripled this year compared with 2009, with “such attacks now taking place an average of three times a week compared with once a week before,” with almost half the suicide attacks taking place in southern Afghanistan. “The shift to more complex suicide attacks demonstrates a growing capability of the local terrorist networks linked to Al Qaeda,” the report said. This also underlines that the insurgents’ reaction to an ever-increasing number of allied forces – by August the total US-led forces would reach close to 150,000 in Afghanistan- has also grown manifold, meaning thereby that every additional deployment of troops is only escalating the conflict.
…with little or no hope:
Clearly, domestic politics of expedience, corruption, tribal affinities among militants and local stake-holders, and religious conservatism are also contributing to the vicious insurgency that has gobbled up almost 300 billion dollars so far. And the bitter reality is that all these factors are tripping up all international efforts in institution-building and not helping in stabilization at all – at least as of now.
Mushrooming of think-tanks and reports is of no use:
Simultaneously, scores of studies and analysis by hop-in-hop-out analysts and think-tankers as well as military officials still appear clueless and confused about the real obstruction in the way of peace and stabilization in Afghanistan; for some the Pakistan army and its mighty Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) pose the real threat, and thus need to be tamed before one could think of fixing problems in Afghanistan. For others, the Haqqani Network represents the most lethal threat which needs to be at least neutralized if success were the goal. And for many others the real villains are the pro-Iran Sunni Afghan warlord, Hekmetyar and his maverick countryman Mulla Omar, whose refusal, first to
Do we really know the enemy to hunt for? Probably not until this confusion about the enemy and on the strategy towards the end-game prevails.
Operation Marja was a failure – so would be any such operation in
The hyped-up offensive in Marja probably also explains Pentagon’s naivety as well as helpless; in February, the US led-forces set out to conquer what they called the Taliban bastion in the tiny town of Marja in the Helmand province, Pentagon and its affiliates began projecting it as the “battle for ultimate victory against Insurgents.” Today, given the size of Marja and the scale of the offensive, that campaign lies in tatters, with no real end or victory in sight. What hopes therefore are left for success in the much-bigger minefield called
US should run a reality check on its policies:
The Obama administration needs to understand that it cannot snub on Afghan faction and pick up another one talks by drawing political distinction between them. Haqqani, Hekmetyar and Mulla Omar constitute the bedrock of current insurgency. Applying the classical “divide and rule” will only spell more disaster both for the country as well as its international allies.