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Afghanistan: NATO's last stand?

by eternalcityblues Mon Oct 2nd, 2006 at 07:19:37 PM EST

Re NATO military engagement in Afghanistan - can't win, OK-agreed? Essentially for the same reasons that ultimately induced both the Brit-Raj and Soviet Russia to abandon their control efforts (and no, IMHO Russia did not lose merely thanks to US funding of Taliban plus AQ, basic reason was/is the classic G4 warfare scenario fuelled by Afghanis' acute and to me only-naturally militant xenophobic reaction to any protracted domination-presence of pink-skinned, non-Muslim foreign invaders/occupiers "as such").

Anyway, both US and non-US NATO components, albeit with slightly different accents, are currently saying Afghanistan is NATO's ultimate testing-ground and "therefore" Europe must put up more and more forces and equipment for heavy combat duty, but most European NATO-troop suppliers, although ambiguously still hanging around, are looking more and more vague about it all, scratching and/or catching butterflies... muttering "hey we only signed up for reconstruction aid" and/or "sorry but we have far more urgent business elsewhere" (i.e. too busy peacekeeping MINUS NATO command-structure in Lebanon - which is in the Mediterranean i.e. in Southern Europe's direct peace-and-security zone of concern).

Meanwhile, the US now appears increasingly eager to cast NATO as its face-saving lighting-rod in Afghanistan as/although by now it's pretty much a sure thing the mission will mess up seriously within 1 year max.

Question is, will the resulting defeat/failure/mess finally bring NATO crashing down with it?  And if/when it does, good thing or bad thing? Opinions, anyone?  

P.S.: I originally posted this as my debut-post here - 3/4 of the way down the 1st October European Breakfast thread - and was invited to repost it for discussion as a separate diary. So here goes, hoping for lots of thought-stimulating input on both aspects i.e. necessity/futility of continuation of NATO in its present form and necessity/futility of pursuing the Afghanistan war ... and/or possible alternative means of preventing/containing the more negative potential consequences of its abandonment.

Afghanistan is a mess. In the absence of western intervention it is likely to produce what, by our ideas, is a pretty nasty government.

On the other hand each successive foreign intervention has only made things worse. At the end of the day it is for Afghans to say how Afghanistan is governed. Maybe if they are given the chance they will be able to gradually get back to the comparative peace and prosperity which existed under the regime of King Zahir Shah, before the Soviet invasion.

Bluntly it is not worth the death of a single western soldier, to try to prop up a weak government in Kabul.

I also see (from Daily Koss) that Senator Frist (Republican-Tennessee) has been suggesting negotiations to bring parts of the Taliban into the Afghan government. It might work. It is a more constructive suggestion than is usually made by US Republican politicians, so no doubt Frist will be severely punished for his apostasy.

by Gary J on Mon Oct 2nd, 2006 at 11:13:27 PM EST
NATO had only one goal : kind of intimidation of the soviet union.

since NATO is irrelevant, i do not see lot of motivation ,at least from Europeans (i do not speak of the poodle) to really continue this organization that is barely more than a cache-sex neither motivation to cancel it.
It looks like this organization will be dissolved by itself sooner or later.

my guess : Nato will be officially dissolved in the moved that will follow the cut&Run from Afghanistan and Iraq and replaced by a lose European-only entity.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 01:04:15 AM EST
I don't think the situation is quite as simple as laid out here, although I do agree with the dire forecasts.  There are issues of factionalism and foreign governmental and religious meddling (primarily from Pakistan) that continue to work against a unity government in Afghanistan, just as they did in the Soviet and Taliban days. It's not simply a matter of the presence of Western troops and Afghan xenophobia.  The reality is that different factions have had their way in "Afghanistan" for so long that is will not be easy to form a strong central government.  Add to that, the unchecked cross border support and safe havens run by fundamentalist religious groups and we arrive at our current situation. Remember, there were no foreign troops in Afghanistan when the Taliban ran rough shod over human rights, made it's bid to take over the entire country, and created a haven for UBL/AQ. I don't know if Afghanistan will be NATO's last stand; it very well could be. I would give an offer to include the Taliban in the central government little chance to succeed for long. It is not in the nature of the religious fundamentalists to accept half-way measures except as a means to gain a stronger foothold from which they could regain their former dominance. In order for NATO to achieve it's goals in Afghanistan, Pakistan must be forced to end the support that begins there (not a likely event).  Every Afghan refugee I've ever spoken with here in the US has stated that Pakistan is the primary concern. Only if Pakistan stops meddling will the Afghan's themselves have a chance to unite their country again. I would say, however, that the ultimate outcome, though acceptable in many ways, may not be anything like a Western style democracy.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 10:09:17 AM EST
Sen. Bill Brist, the Republican Majority Leader, said that "the Afghan guerrilla war can never be won militarily and called for efforts to bring the Taliban and their supporters into the Afghan government."  - source: Associated Press, Oct. 2, 2006.

Frist's comments are astonishing, since he is one of the loudest voices for "staying the course" in Iraq.  I can only conclude that he has given up on any chance of a stable, democratic government in Afghanistan.

Also, the Taliban and its local allies have staged a couple of sucessful infrastructure attacks in Pakistan (a natural gas pipeline, and a hydro-electric dam), that forced the Pakistani government to grant them autonomy in the western provinces.

by corncam on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 12:54:28 PM EST
I wouldn't bury NATO so quickly.

The day NATO cuts & runs from Afghanistan, you will hear the mainstream media saying "NATO did its best, blabla, but what could it possibly do against warlords and taliban?". And soon enough we'll be brainwashed with feeds on how heroic NATO soldiers have been, fighting in an Alamo of sorts, knowing that their mission was doomed but staying the course. Brave NATO. Wonderful NATO. etc etc. So this will deal with the public.

As for countries themselves, well they are so used to functioning within NATO (as there is no other equivalent, NATO remains a great medium for European nations to spy on each other). that I doubt they're ready to turn the page yet.

So I would speculate that NATO cuts & run, Afghanistan goes to hell or leaves it, and NATO continues to exist for another 20 years, 30 years tops.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 01:59:08 PM EST
I think you are right.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 02:55:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO will continue to ** up everything it touches for a tad longer. After all the US arms industry needs this rather monopolised market to sell the surplus weapons of death that the US military on its own cant use quick enough.
by observer393 on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 11:07:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
half of whose family run businesses in the US as your puppet leader was definitley not a good idea. Mind you he spoke good English. Some say better than he speaks the language of his "own" country assuming that he is not actually a US citiizen. Then having him win an election by allowing his supporters who had been bought by promises of US aid to vote 7 or 8 times garnering him a bare majority only compounded things. Then to face the reality that you have saddled yourself with a leader who has absolutely no local backing, no local support, and was only in power because of your money and troops, and because he allowed the warloads to produce copious amounts of opium was probably a bit disturbing to those countries involved as the resistance to foreign involvement increased. Still we wouldnt want reality interfering with NATOs little dreams.
by observer393 on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 11:05:06 PM EST

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