In the midst of the Taleban attacks
in central Kabul on Sunday, a journalist called the British
embassy for a comment. “I really don’t know why they are doing
this,” said the exasperated diplomat who answered the phone.
“We’ll be out of here in two years’ time. All they have to do is
The official line is that by two
years from now, when US and NATO forces leave Afghanistan, the
regime they installed will be able to stay in power without
foreign support. The British diplomat clearly didn’t believe that,
and neither do most other foreign observers.
However, Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security
Assistance Force, predictably said that he was “enormously proud”
of the response of the Afghan security forces, and various other
senior commanders said that it showed that all the foreign
training was paying off. You have to admire their cheek: Multiple
simultaneous attacks in Kabul and three other Afghan cities prove
that the Western strategy is working.
The Taleban’s attacks in the Afghan capital on Sunday targeted the
national Parliament, NATO’s headquarters, and the German, British,
Japanese and Russian embassies. About a hundred people were killed
or wounded, and the fighting lasted for 18 hours. There was a
similar attack in the center of the Afghan capital only last
September. If this were the Vietnam war, we would now have reached
The US government has already declared its intention to withdraw
from Afghanistan in two years’ time, just as it did in Vietnam
back in 1971. Richard Nixon wanted his second-term presidential
election out of the way before he pulled the plug, just as Barack
Obama does now.
The Taleban are obviously winning the war in Afghanistan now, just
as North Vietnam’s troops were winning in South Vietnam then. The
American strategy at that time was satirized as “declare a victory
and leave,” and it hasn’t changed one whit in forty years. Neither
have the lies that cover it up.
The US puppet government in South Vietnam only survived for two
years after US forces left in 1973. The puppet government in Kabul
may not even last that long after the last American troops leave
Afghanistan in 2014. But no Western general will admit that the
war is lost, even though their denial means that more of their
soldiers must die pointlessly.
“It’s like I see in slow motion men dying for nothing and I can’t
stop it,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a US Army officer who spent
two tours in Afghanistan. He returned home last year consumed by
outrage at the yawning gulf between the promises of success
routinely issued by American senior commanders and the real
situation on the ground.
To be fair, none of those generals was asked whether invading
Afghanistan was a good idea. That was decided ten years ago, when
most of them were just colonels. But if they read the intelligence
reports, they know that they cannot win this war. If they go on
making upbeat predictions anyway, they are responsible for the
lives that are wasted.
“It is consuming me from inside,” explained Lt. Col. Davis, and he
wrote two reports on the situation in Afghanistan, one classified
and one for public consumption. The unclassified one began:
“Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth
when communicating with the US Congress and the American people as
regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth
has become unrecognizable.”
Col. Davis gave his first interview to the New York Times in early
February, and sent copies of the classified version to selected
senators and representatives in Congress. But no member of
Congress is going to touch the issue in an election year, for fear
of being labelled “unpatriotic”. So American, British and other
Western soldiers will continue to die, as will thousands of
Afghans, in order to postpone the inevitable outcome for a few
It’s not necessarily even an outcome that threatens American
security, for there was always a big difference between the
Taleban and their ungrateful guests, Al-Qaeda. The Taleban were
and are big local players in the Afghan political game, but they
never showed any interest in attacking the United States. Al-Qaeda
were pan-Islamist revolutionaries, mostly Arabs and Pakistanis,
who abused their hosts’ hospitality by doing exactly that.
It was never necessary to invade Afghanistan at all. Senior
Taleban commanders were furious that Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks had
exposed them to the threat of invasion, and came close to evicting
Osama bin Laden at the Kandahar jirga (tribal Parliament) in
October, 2001. Wait a little longer, spread a few million dollars
around in bribes, and the United States could probably have had a
victory over Al-Qaeda without a war in Afghanistan.
It’s much too late for that now, but Al-Qaeda survives more as an
ideology than as an organization, and most Afghans (including the
Taleban) remain profoundly uninterested in affairs beyond their
own borders. Whatever political system emerges in Afghanistan
after the foreigners go home, it is unlikely to want to attack the
United States. Pity about all the people who will be killed
between now and then.
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based independent journalist whose
articles are published in 45 countries. This article is posted on
Arab News today.