America, since its successes in defeating the twin threats of Germany and Japan in WWII, appears to have suffered a historical mental lapse. We waged an unjustified war, not of necessity but of choice, in Vietnam and lost. We duplicated that debacle by invading and occupying Iraq and now, plans are being made to escalate our military actions in Afghanistan, a move that I fear will lead us into a massive trap and disaster.
After two monumental failures that never should have even been initiated, you would think that we would have learned from history but, from all appearances, we have learned nothing. The U.S., teetering on the edge of national insolvency, is now on the verge of upping the ante in Afghanistan with increases in troop deployment. The intent is to wind down in Iraq and transfer military forces to fight in a nation where every invader in history has failed to achieve their objectives.
The U.S. and its NATO allies have now been in Afghanistan for seven years. The Taliban, who initially were dealt massive blows by our military and appeared to be on the ropes, have now been reinvigorated--grown greatly in strength and now controling the majority of Afghanistan, along with various tribal factions.
The many incidences of bombing of innocents, called unfortunate collateral damage by U.S. war hawks, have infuriated Afghanis to the point that we are now considered the hated invader that must be expelled. How many more wedding parties must be obliterated, how many more innocent children, mothers and fathers who got in our way will have to die before we realize that there is no definitive reason for our presence in that nation? I defy anyone to come up with a rational, moral reason for U.S. troops and NATO to continue warfare in this sovereign nation. War hawks can pontificate but there is no reason whatsoever. This is simply one more misguided war of choice, not necessity.
A trap awaits the U.S. and its NATO allies and they apparently cannot see what the future holds. To get a picture of what the future may well hold for us in that desolate, mountainous nation filled with numerous tribal factions, let's review history and see what we can learn from it. The Soviets sent troops into Afghanistan in 1979 for a number of reasons. First, they wished to expand their influence in Asia. They also wanted to preserve the Communist government that had been established in the 1970s, and was collapsing because of its lack of support other than in the military. Third, the Soviets wanted to protect their interests in Afghanistan from Iran and western nations.
The problem with their invasion of Afghanistan was that it was doomed to fail right from the start. Here is the lesson from history that the Russians should have heeded but did not. The first historically documented invasion of the region that is now called Afghanistan was made by Alexander the Great in 330 BC as part of his string of conquests. Thereafter, it was invaded by Arab Muslims, ethnic groups from the Middle East and North Africa (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria and others). Later, it was invaded by the Mongols (Genghis Khan) and in the nineteenth century twice by British India.
Knowing these facts that over this span of history every one of these invaders were eventually driven out of that nation, the Soviets invaded anyway--a big mistake--and fell into a deadly trap. The U.S. government was instrumental in setting this trap beginning in the 1980's, when it trained, financed and armed the Mujahideen Islamic Guerillas to fight the Soviet invasion.
President Jimmy Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski is known to have played a fundamental role in crafting U.S. policy, which, unbeknownst even to the mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." In a 1998 interview, Brzezinski recalled:
"We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would. That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap. The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."
Since 330 BC, five powerful invaders, including the USSR, made the fatal mistake of waging war on Afghanistan and all were defeated.
And now, the US is not only mired down in a war in that nation, but is making plans to escalate our involvement. We now know that in the 1980's the US was funding the Mujahideen and setting up a trap for Russia. Now the roles may be completely reversed because someone is funding the Taliban to a great degree as evidenced by its increasing ability to control a large part of Afghanistan.
Apparently, the Taliban and any number of supporting factions are now choking off the supply routes from the Pakistani port of Karachi via the Khyber Pass to Kabul that NATO and the U.S. has been using. The problem now posed is to find new supply routes through some combination of routes involving Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan into Afghanistan.
By all current indications, it appears that the incoming Obama administration is poised to continue the current U.S. policy in Afghanistan and escalate it by transferring thousands more troops from Iraq. Will this administration explain to the American people what exactly we are doing in Afghanistan? What is the mission, what is the goal? If it is to wipe out Al-Qaeda hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, then we need to initiate intensive, on-going diplomatic discussions with the Pakistani government, not wasted time, energy, lives and the spending of billions more dollars in Afghanistan at a time when the American financial system and the economy are bleeding.
Gary Leupp in his December 27, 2008 article "The Coming Surge Into Afghanistan: Obama and the Graveyard of Empires" wrote, "Obama seems to believe that the U.S. can defeat those resisting the foreign presence and its local allies, stabilize the thoroughly corrupt Northern Alliance warlord regime with Hamid Karzai as its symbolic head, and stem the flow of Taliban back and forth across the Pakistan border. Most importantly, it can finally get that oil pipeline done--the one that's to run from the Caspian Sea through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the Indian Ocean bypassing Russia and unfriendly Iran. The deal was signed in December 2002 but construction has been stymied by the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. That pipeline is, I believe, the big prize."
This writer is definitely right on with his conclusion that the pipeline is a big prize. The building of this pipeline has been known for years but we Americans have short memories and short attention spans; and we have a certain naivety that makes us highly susceptible to listening and believing in phony, fraudulent justifications for waging foreign wars. We listened, believed and got fooled with the Vietnam War, then with the Iraq War, and now we are on the verge of being fooled yet once, more. Will we ever learn?
We don't really know but it is highly possible that Pakistan, Russia, Iran and any number of other nations are funding the Taliban and other insurgents (repeating exactly what the U.S. did in the 1980's to defeat the Russians) and setting a massive trap for America. Those ambitious plans for that pipeline through Afghanistan are not at all acceptable to many of these surrounding nations and you can bet that a lot is going on behind the scenes to make certain that it will not materialize.
Well, it won't be too long before we find out because, unless things change, the new President Obama and his Bush-trained military advisers seem to be hell bent on escalation. The U.S. is poised to become the latest nation that made the mistake of invading Afghanistan and was thereafter defeated.
The problem is America cannot afford it in either monetary or moral terms. Will we ever, ever learn?