America's Dirty Secret: AfPak War Not Winnable
By Stephen Lendman
16 December, 2010
Before dying, Richard Holbrooke admitted it, saying "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." The Washington Post reinterpreted it, saying:
"Holbrooke's death is the latest complication in an effort plagued by unreliable partners, reluctant allies and an increasingly skeptical American public."
They're not alone. Include noted analysts, administration officials, the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Pentagon top brass. An earlier article discussed it, accessed through the following link:
A recent article remembered Chalmers Johnson, best known for calling America's global wars and imperialism a "suicide option" unless reversed. Access it through the following link:
Naming us our own enemy, he called our policies "arrogant and misguided," America's condition dire, and it's "too late for mere scattered reforms." We can choose democracy to survive or perish under current policies. He said America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change, what he called:
"isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy," combined with authoritarian rule and loss of personal freedom.
The other article titled Imperial America's End Time included two grim assessments - from the Pentagon and CSIS. In discrete understatement, a November Pentagon report said:
"Progress across the country remains uneven, with modest gains in security, governance and development in operational priority areas." Progress overall has been "slow and incremental....key terrain....relatively unchanged."
It also explained that violence and Afghan deaths rose sharply as a result of a 300% increase in armed clashes since 2007, and a 70% rise over 2009. Despite the force buildup, "The insurgency has proven resilient with sustained logistics capacity and command and control."
After over nine years of conflict (now America's longest war and counting), security is worse than ever. Moreover, "insurgent safe havens" in Pakistan and Iran threaten to widen the war further." In fact, "(e)fforts to reduce insurgent capacity....have not produced measurable results" despite heightened drone and other attacks.
Yet war continues. Waging, not winning it, matters most. America's military/industrial/private contractor complex demands it to keep huge profits flowing freely - no matter the cost in lives, human misery, destruction, and hundreds of billions more dollars diverted from essential homeland needs. Imperial war is America's top priority and has been for decades.
An October CSIS report on Iraq and AfPak expressed alarm, saying:
"We have not yet achieved any meaningful form of positive strategic result (from over seven and a half years of war in Iraq and over nine in Afghanistan), and (both conflicts) may end in a major grand strategic defeat."
It cited Washington's futile pursuit of an "end state fallacy," that officialdom "seems to be in a state of partial denial," and in Afghanistan:
-- there's "no credible end state to the fighting....that can give the US a credible grand strategic victory or stable outcome."
AfPak increasingly looks like an unwinnable quagmire, draining America's resources. Staying the course, committing larger force levels, applying more pressure, and escalating war aren't solutions. They've made conditions worse, not better.
"The US and its allies are pursuing a largely mythical Afghan development plan which lacks core credibility in peacetime, much less in war. There is no development plan for Pakistan. The US is effectively paying an open ended mix of bribes to a country whose economy is now crippled by a catastrophic flood, and whose main security interest is India, not the war the US wants it to fight."
Successful resolution is impossible. "The challenges are simply too great, and the timelines for credible change are too long....The US cannot afford to allow this situation to continue....After what soon will be ten years of fighting, it is time we not only learned this, but acted on the lesson."
America's Iraq/AfPak wars are unwinnable, highlighted in another article, accessed through the following link:
New Intelligence Reports Give Grim Assessments
On December 14, New York Times writer Elisabeth Bumiller headlined, "Intelligence Reports Offer Dim Views of Afghan War," saying:
Despite official Washington claiming progress, "two new classified intelligence reports offer a more negative assessment and say there is a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunts down insurgents operating from havens on its Afghan border."
A more realistic analysis confirms a sustained, committed insurgency - freedom fighters wanting liberation, nothing less. In early December, House and Senate Intelligence Committee members got National Intelligence Estimates (on AfPak). They represent consensus views of America's 16 intelligence agencies through October 1.
Senior Pentagon officials called them out of date by "desk-bound Washington analysts who have spent limited time, if any, in Afghanistan and have no feel for the war."
An anonymous official said they lacked "proximity and perspective," no matter that the above cited Pentagon report tacitly agreed. Perhaps it's been. H discretely buried to hide how commanders really feel, especially those on the ground commenting publicly on the war's futility.
According to Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official, now a Brookings Institution senior fellow:
Degrading Taliban fighters, winning the border war, building an effective Afghan army, and relying on it for success "is not the optimal solution, obviously....we have to deal with the world we have, not the world we'd like." We can't change reality on the ground.
The report also reveals that some Democrats are losing patience, Rep. Adam Smith (D. WA) saying:
"You're not going to get to the point where the Taliban are gone and the border is perfectly controlled."
He added that increased pressure on Obama will be applied to end the war, predicting "Democrats in Congress would resist continuing to spend $100 billion annually" on futility. "We're not going to be hanging out over there fighting these guys like we're fighting them now for 20 years."
In an October 27 BBC interview, former Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, agreed, saying victory in Afghanistan is "impossible." Based on his own 1980s experience, he said America's only choice is withdrawal "no matter how difficult it will be."
After over nine years, AfPak is another Vietnam, a quagmire with no conflict end in sight. Frustrated allies announced plans to reduce forces or leave. Some are gone. On December 4, France's new Defense Minister, Alain Juppe, called the Afghan war a "trap," saying his government plans withdrawal. Moreover, polls confirm public opposition at all-time highs.
A September New America Foundation report said Obama's counter-insurgency strategy failed. It can't succeed. It's a fool's errand based on flawed analysis, believing Afghan nation-building can work. The full report can be accessed through the following link:
It called nine years of futility not worth "this level of sacrifice." Staying the present course "threatens long-term needs and priorities both at home and abroad." Prospects for success are "dim." Even Henry Kissinger admitted that "Afghanistan has never been pacified by foreign forces."
The report added:
"....the war in Afghanistan has reached a critical crossroads. Our current path promises to have a limited impact on the civil war while taking more American lives and contributing to skyrocketing taxpayer debt. We conclude that a fundamentally new direction is needed (short) of a military solution in a region where our interests lie in political stability."
The alternative is protracted unwinnable war. Tried earlier, bribing Taliban fighters failed. A few hundred at most changed sides. At the same time, NATO estimates their ranks swelled, reaching a 25,000 force level last December. Currently it's likely much higher and growing.
The longer America's genocide persists. The greater the civilian casualty count. The deeper human misery becomes in a country already with the world's gravest, the more determination for liberation will grow. Above all, Pakistanis want cross-border drone attacks stopped and Afghans want war and occupation ended, the Karzai regime ousted, and new governance replacing it. Even Taliban rule improves what's now ongoing, a nightmarish combination of war, occupation, and human suffering.
A Final Comment
General David Petraeus, Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, US Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) hopes to parlay an AfPak triumph into a successful 2012 presidential bid, either by portraying defeat as victory or blaming bad Obama policy for lack of it.
The "Vietnamistan" reality, however, should banish him to history's dustbin after prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Other administration war criminals also as well as Bush era ones who lied the nation into war, waged it in violation of US and international law, and has America bogged down in protracted unwinnable ones.
Law Professor and international law expert Francis Boyle believes:
"Obama is most vulnerable on 3 articles of impeachment:
1. Escalation of war in Afghanistan;
2. Escalation of war into Pakistan; (and)
3. Establishing an assassination list for US citizens."
He like other top past and present officials (including Pentagon ones) committed grievous crimes of war and against humanity, including genocide, mostly recently in Iraq, Afghanistan, and increasingly in Pakistan - the latest confirmation of America's longstanding tradition, a nation permanently at war. Studying US conflicts since the 1870s, historian Gabriel Kolko called US power:
"violen(t), racis(t), repressi(ve) at home and abroad (as well as) cultural(ly) mendaci(ous)."
It dates from exterminating Native Americans, enslaving Black Africans, persecuting the nation's poor, disadvantaged, women and people of color, as well as a tradition of waging direct and proxy genocidal wars globally.
Before his death, historian Howard Zinn accused past and current leaders of committing "genocide...brutally and purposefully....in the name of progress (buried) in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth."
Millions of lives were lost, an endless toll raging out-of-control in AfPak. Ending that atrocity and holding culpable officials accountable would be top priority in any just society. Only America's victims pay. Its officials, like Richard Holbrooke, are eulogized for services rendered.
A December 14 Wall Street Journal editorial called him "a diplomat who never doubted America is a force for good in the world." A same day New York Times one concurred, saying he was "an iconic American diplomat (who) never lost his fierce belief in America's goodness or in its responsibility to make the world a more just place," no matter how much death and destruction it took to achieve it.
An honest assessment would call him a destructive force for imperial gain, responsible for genocidal wars, wanton destruction and massive human misery. It
continues unabated in AfPak, no matter its lawlessness and futility.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.