Today completes the fifteen years of US entry in Afghanistan. It was on 7th October 2001 when US had entered the Afghanistan when it declared that US was attacked by the terrorists and war on terror was now to be carried on. US was attacked on 11 September 2001 and this was attack on its existence. ‘At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States became a nation transformed.’ The war on terror was the logical culmination.
The invasion was not to decimate the al Qaeda but to compensate the deficiency of the US administration. The whole world thinks and US proclaims that it is the most organized politico-administrative system but it is not ture. In fact US never took the threat of terrorism seriously. If it had fashioned its policies according to the emerging needs, caused due to terrorism it would have not only controlled the terrorism at its initial phase but also could have succeeded in saving the innocent lives in USA (2,600 people died at the World Trade Center; 125 died at the Pentagon; 256 died on the four planes) and innumerable ones in Afghanistan and the world over. The report on 9/11 specifies in clear words that- “The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat. The terrorist danger from Bin Laden and al Qaeda was not a major topic for policy debate among the public, the media, or in the Congress. Indeed, it barely came up during the 2000 presidential campaign. Al Qaeda’s new brand of terrorism presented challenges to U.S. governmental institutions that they were not well-designed to meet. Though top officials all told us that they understood the danger, we believe there was uncertainty among them as to whether this was just a new and especially venomous version of the ordinary terrorist threat the United States had lived with for decades, or it was indeed radically new, posing a threat beyond any yet experienced. As late as September 4, 2001, Richard Clarke, the White House staffer long responsible for counterterrorism policy coordination, asserted that the government had not yet made up its mind how to answer the question: “Is al Qaeda a big deal?”A week later came the answer. Terrorism was not the overriding national security concern for the U.S. government under either the Clinton or the pre-9/11 Bush administration. “(Executive Summary, The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States}
The administrative failure can be identified with this facts that US was consistently under attack, on August 7, 1998 U.S. embassies in Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were attacked with bombs killing 224 people with more than 5000 wounded; followed by another lethal terrorist attack when on October 12, 2000 at a port in Aden, Yemen U.S. Navy destroyer Cole was attacked by two suicide boats related to al Qaeda in which 17 of its crew members were killed. US was aware about the movement of the terrorist groups but administration was weak to take any strong step. The US policy was weakened due to its relations with Saudi Arabia which has been supported by it to unlimited extent. This support is still continuing. Obama rejects the public voice on the sueing of foreign state including the Saudi Arabia. 9/11 report established that “Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism. Before 9/11, the Saudi and U.S. governments did not fully share intelligence information or develop an adequate joint effort to track and disrupt the finances of the al Qaeda organization. On the other hand, government officials of Saudi Arabia at the highest levels worked closely with top U.S. officials in major initiatives to solve the Bin Ladin problem with diplomacy.” (Executive Summary, The 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States}
Thus 9/11 attack on human civilization was a clear fault of the US policies where it failed not only at the administrative level but also at the diplomatic level. Its association to Saudi Arabia has brought to the world several disasters which cannot be counted and US in the name of war against terror, national interest made the things quite complex as these confuse the global order.
The impact on Afghanistan is another sad story after fifteen years. Talibans which were replaced by the US led attacks have been emerging with more potency. They have emerged with more controlling power,areas are under their control and the government of Ghani is under stress. The agreement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar tells the story. The policy of Good Taliban and bad Taliban has created more troubles for which US is responsible as it confused the fight against Taliban.
US Af-Pak policy has also failed. US allocated more value to Pakistan ignoring India. Today the fate is that Afghan President Ghani blames Pakistan for exporting terrorism in the country. IS, the result of wrong US policies has attempted to penetrate Afghanistan. In conclusion terrorism has increased since 2001.
The death toll in Afghanistan due to US intervention has scaled much. Brown University’s Watson Institute has estimated that during 2001- 2014 about 149,000 people had lost their lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan in which more than fifty thousands were civilian lives.
What are the lessons after fifteen years: that terrorism should be controlled by coordinated efforts, that its major sponsors as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan should be isolated at global level, that US should improve its public and diplomatic departments and should bring good leaders on the top positions. From Clinton to Bush to Obama all failed and pushed the world into an age of pains.
The right policies and decision making is necessary not the rhetoric of false achievements. This is the message of last fifteen years ‘age of human sufferings’.
Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is Vice Chairman CSSP and Consultant CRIEPS, e email@example.com