It is now official: every single justification behind the Afghanistan War and its seeming never ending occupation have been disavowed - by the very politicos that have been not only responsible for the lauching and conduct of this war, but likewise by those who have been staunchly supporting this conflict.
In other words: the Afghanistan war was absolutely for nothing.
Let us re-visit the main justifications/objectives for the Afghanistan war, which began in October 2001:
- Defeat the Taliban;
- Defeat al-Qaeda;
- Bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan.
Over the span of seven years since this war began, major combat operations have kept on going and going in Afghanistan - despite the proclamation in May 2002 that major combat operations were over and in the face of repeated claims that this war has been a big success.
Defeat the Taliban? Whether fueled by drug trade or corrupted misappropriations of U.S.A. funds to Pakistan (!), the Taliban insurgency shows no signs of wavering - not only in the South of Afghanistan where it has been most active but slowly spreading to the North of the country as well - all the while profiting from Pakistan's ineptitude (or incompetence, or fear?) to deal with them on their own side of the border. Just recently, Pakistan released a senior Taliban leader on his pledge to cease attacks in Pakistan - proving once again that Pakistan looks out for itself first and foremost, despite being a much touted "ally against terrorism". In the meantime, there have been repeated calls to negociate with the Taliban, going as far as to promise them a significant presence in the Afghanistan government - with the tacit approval of the U.S.A., Canada (for which the Afghanistan war has pretty much become its war) and other N.A.T.O. allies. Why, even after a much publicized recent attack by the Taliban on Afghani officials and foreign dignitaries (of which the Afghani government had been warned about), Afghani President Hamid Karzai went as far as to demand that N.A.T.O. "leave the Taliban alone" in order to stop "undermining negociations" with them! And guess what? N.A.T.O. forces are apparently following suit by putting the word out to Taliban fighters that they want to talk!
"If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, the Taliban will return" indeed. Interestingly, many Afghanis are not unhappy to see the Taliban returning!
Yes siree, the Taliban has lost - definitely.
(To learn more about the Taliban and "how much" they know about us and hate our freedoms and whatnot, I strongly suggest that you to read/watch the series Talking to the Taliban, via Red Tory: part I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII - but I disgress).
Defeat al-Qaeda? Osama bin Laden got away and is still in hiding, along with most of the al-Qaeda leadership, quite alive and well - thank you very much. In the meantime, Pakistan is once again of little help here - not only are bin Laden and al-Qaeda hiding in Pakistan, Pakistan freed suspected al-Qaeda members in 2006, whereas al-Qaeda funding keeps going through Pakistan. At one point, Pakistan even "lost" the trail of bin Laden - and recently, Pakistani President Musharraf declared that Pakistan was "not particularly looking" for him. All well and good, considering that al-Qaeda presumably assassinated opposition leader and staunch al-Qaeda opponent Benazir Bhutto, while continuing to cause much chaos in Pakistan alongside Taliban fighters. And through it all, the now-infamous "on and off" hunt for bin Laden by the U.S.A., Canada and other N.A.T.O. allies still goes on (or not) ... in Afghanistan! No wonder such a wild goose chase will be a very long one ...
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda keeps fighting alongside the Taliban in the continuing insurgency in Afghanistan, and is poised to launch more terrorist attacks around the world ... from Pakistan. That, in addition to the fact that al-Qaeda continues to be a source of inspiration for would-be extremists - especially in Iraq.
Yes siree, al-Qaeda is on the run - definitely.
Bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan? Yes, there have been some positive steps towards democracy in Afghanistan - but such gains are far from being faits accomplis. Rampant corruption and the booming drug trafficking (and the Drug Lords behind it) are but two of the prevailing problems which keep undermining said gains. The biggest problem of them all lies with the remaining powerful, brutish Warlords. Although having been elected in 2004, President Karzai holds power in Kabul only ... with the consent of said Warlords who hold power practically everywhere else in the country, thanks to more short-sighted, expedient incompetence on the part of the Bush administration. It doesn't help either when one of the Warlords declares allegiance to Osama bin Laden. And Karzai's government remains hardly stable, thanks to the ongoing insurgency. Last, but not least, what of the Afghani women? Little has changed since 2001 and things are in fact worsening in this respect, while laws are slowly but surely returning to the "old style" Taliban ones. On a related note, freedom of the press is not that free just yet and is likewise worsening - all of this thanks to seven years after Afghanistan's liberation from the "Taliban Regime".
Yes siree, the Afghanis have freedom and democracy - definitely.
So all in all, after looking closely at the main justifications/objectives for the war in Afghanistan and how "successfully" they have been achieved, it is safe to conclude that for all the boasts from the Bush administration, as well as those coming from Canada's Harper government (and from the British, and the Australians, and the French, and so on and so forth), soldiers and civilians have been dying in Afghanistan over the last seven years for absolutely nothing.
But we know all too well why we've arrived to this point, which is more or less right back where the Afghanistan war began on all accounts, despite all the empty rhetoric of touting all the progress achieved "over there": botched pre-war planning, botched post-war planning and the disastrous diversion of the Iraq war.
This war is indeed a veritable catalogue of errors.
No wonder Afghanistan is a quagmire. No wonder it's damn hard work. No wonder the situation is grim. No wonder the Afghanistan "mission" is in trouble, if not actually in crisis. No wonder Afghanistan has been assessed as a 30-years long marathon "mission" while we keep running in circles.
For indeed, each one of the prime justifications/objectives for the Afghanistan war have now been either completely disavowed ("defeat the taliban"), more or less abandoned ("defeat al-Qaeda"), or outrightly dismissed/ignored ("bring freedom and democracy"), by the very same people who have been pushing and supporting said justifications and this war.
In essence, the core-reasons for going into Afghanistan are being put aside in lieu of political salvage operations of appearances - with the price continuing to be exacted with the lives of N.A.T.O. soldiers and Afghan civilians in the meantime.
To put it in other words: people and soldiers have been dying over the last seven years for nothing more than what in the end has amounted to a needless and ludicrous political exercize on the part of incompetent "deciders" as their response to 9/11.
The idea of military intervention as the crux of the strategy behind the Global War on Terror(TM) was wrong-headed to begin with and has proven itself to be wrong-headed ever since - if only because one does not wage war on a method/technique of fighting. In this respect, it is now safe to say that the Global War on Terror(TM) has been a colossal failure so far, in addition to fostering more terrorism and extremism than prior to its implementation.
And Afghanistan will forever constitute grave testimony to that effect.
Hip, hip, hooray.
(Cross-posted from APOV)