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The Forever War In Afghanistan Will Soon Re-escalate

Published: November 20, 2020
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Recent headlines on Afghanistan:

Everyone wants the troops to leave Afghanistan except the Pentagon brass and the CIA. They have prevailed over two presidents and are now ready to manipulate a third one into intensifying the war.

Consider:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!
4:05 PM · Aug 21, 2012
Barack Obama @BarackObama
VP Biden on Afghanistan: "We are leaving in 2014. Period."
4:05am · 12 Oct 2012
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!
9:59 PM · Jan 14, 2013
Barack Obama @BarackObama
President Obama: "By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."
3:58am · 13 Feb 2013
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.
8:10 PM · Mar 1, 2013
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!
1:28 AM · Oct 8, 2020

M.K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Pentagon prevailed over two presidents:

Fundamentally, the contradiction lies here: Pentagon top brass is far from through with the 19-year old Afghan war. They never saw it quite the way Trump sees it — an “endless war” — because they still think they can win it and realise their key objectives. In fact, some amongst them still would think they could have won the Vietnam War if only the Pentagon had a free hand.

When the presidency of George W Bush ended and Barack Obama took over in 2009, the war in Afghanistan could have ended. Candidate Obama was very vociferous about the futility of the war. But the military commanders could anticipate that America’s first Black president was a babe in the woods in the Beltway, as his invitation to Robert Gates to continue as his defence secretary loudly proclaimed.

They sized up that Obama was indecisive and weak and they could change his mind. And they were proven right. They actually got him to approve the “Afghan surge,” which of course was projected persuasively as one last good push to defeat the Taliban conclusively.

Now, that push continued for the next seven years under Obama.
...
The military commanders again were lucky as Trump, although a white American, was a rank outsider to the US establishment.
...
Trump didn’t persevere — he was never “hands-on” — when it came to the Afghan war. He never once phoned Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, leave alone received him in the Oval Office. The military commanders could brilliantly string along Trump. They simply exhausted him in a waiting game right up to the home stretch of his 4-year term.

Now the military commanders are getting ready for a new president who is probably as close to their heart, as good as George Bush.

As Trump is too timid to order the Pentagon to remove ALL U.S. troops from Afghanistan the war will continue beyond his presidency.

Bhadrakumar thinks that Biden will let the military re-escalate the war:

What we can expect now is that the military commanders will hunker down with the 2500 troops in Afghanistan until Trump leaves. And then they will recreate a very good case for another “surge”. It isn’t difficult to do that.

That is indeed highly likely. But it is not just the Pentagon pressing for keeping the war alive. The CIA is historically known for its 'interest' in the drug business. That Afghanistan, while under U.S. occupation, became the largest producer of opium is not coincidental. It generates a lot of money that can be used for 'black' operations and other purposes.

The Doha agreement which Trump negotiated with the Taliban will likely be breached the U.S. side as soon as Biden is in office. He will blame the Taliban and will escalate the war from there.

There is one slight shimmer of hope that the situation might somehow change. Today Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan which is directing the Taliban, came to Kabul on a 'historic' first visit:

“You come with a with a series of very important messages ... but fundamental to this is that violence is not an answer, a comprehensive political settlement for an enduring peace within the framework of our values, our Constitution in the Islamic Republic is the way to the future,” [Afghan President Ashraf] Ghani told Khan at the presidential palace.

Khan acknowledged Pakistan had played a key role in getting the Taliban to the negotiating table and that Islamabad remains concerned that “despite the talks in Qatar, the level of violence is rising.”

“Whatever is possible, we will do to help reduce the violence,” and help move the Afghan-Taliban talks toward a cease-fire, Khan said. “The whole objective of this visit is to build trust, to communicate more. ... We will be helping you.”

That does not sound great yet but more communication between Kabul and Islamabad could eventual lead to some real compromise and an Afghan government both countries could live with.

But there are outside forces, mainly India and the U.S., who do want to see an agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan as that would diminish their role. They are more likely to sabotage one than to let it happen.

The nineteen year long war is therefore likely to continue. More war crimes will be committed in Afghanistan and more innocent people will die there. In four years more presidential candidates will have promised to finally end it.  But will any of them prevail?

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