Our Announcements

Not Found

Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.

Archive for category Decline of Empires

The end of American hegemony By Francis Fukuyama

The end of American hegemony

Influence abroad depends on fixing problems at home

By Francis Fukuyama

November 19, 2021
The horrifying images of desperate Afghans trying to get out of Kabul after the Western-backed government collapsed in August seemed to signify a major juncture in world history, as America turned away from the world. Yet in truth, the end of the American era had come much earlier. The long-term sources of American weakness and decline are more domestic than international. The country will remain a great power for many years, but just how influential it will be depends on its ability to fix its internal problems, rather than its foreign policy.
The peak period of American hegemony lasted less than 20 years, from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the financial crisis of 2007-09. The country was dominant in many domains of power—military, economic, political and cultural. The height of American hubris was the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when it hoped to remake not just Iraq and Afghanistan (invaded two years before), but the whole Middle East. America overestimated the effectiveness of military power to bring about deep political change, even as it underestimated the impact of its free-market economic model on global finance. The decade ended with its troops bogged down in two counterinsurgency wars, and a financial crisis that accentuated the inequalities American-led globalisation had brought about.

Termites in the floorboards

The degree of unipolarity in this period has been rare in history, and the world has been reverting to a more normal state of multipolarity ever since, with China, Russia, India, Europe and other centres gaining power relative to America. Afghanistan’s ultimate effect on geopolitics is likely to be small: America survived an earlier, humiliating defeat when it withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, but regained its dominance within little more than a decade. The much bigger challenge to America’s global standing is domestic.

American society is deeply polarised, and has found it difficult to find consensus on virtually anything. This polarisation started over conventional policy issues like taxes and abortion, but has since metastasised into a bitter fight over cultural identity. Normally a big external threat such as a global pandemic should be the occasion for citizens to rally around a common response. But the covid-19 crisis served rather to deepen America’s divisions, with social distancing, mask-wearing and vaccinations being seen not as public-health measures but as political markers.These conflicts have spread to all aspects of life, from sport to the brands of consumer products that red and blue Americans buy.

America’s influence abroad depends on its ability to fix its internal problems

Polarisation has affected foreign policy directly. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans took a hawkish stance and scolded Democrats for the Russian “reset” and alleged naivety regarding Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump turned the tables by embracing Mr Putin, and today roughly half of Republicans believe that the Democrats constitute a bigger threat to the American way of life than Russia does.

There is more apparent consensus regarding China: both Republicans and Democrats agree it is a threat to democratic values. But this only carries America so far. A far greater test for American foreign policy than Afghanistan will be Taiwan, if it comes under direct Chinese attack. Will the United States be willing to sacrifice its sons and daughters on behalf of that island’s independence? Or indeed, would it risk military conflict with Russia should the latter invade Ukraine? These are serious questions with no easy answers, but a reasoned debate about American national interest will probably be conducted primarily through the lens of how it affects the partisan struggle.

The biggest policy debacle of President Joe Biden’s administration in its first year has been its failure to plan adequately for the rapid collapse of Afghanistan. Mr Biden has suggested that withdrawal was necessary in order to focus on meeting the bigger challenges from Russia and China. I hope he is serious about this. Mr Obama was never successful in making a “pivot” to Asia because America remained focused on counterinsurgency in the Middle East. In 2022, the administration needs to redeploy both resources and the attention of policymakers to deter geopolitical rivals and engage with allies.

The United States is not likely to regain its earlier hegemonic status, nor should it aspire to. What it can hope for is to sustain, with like-minded countries, a world order friendly to democratic values. Whether it can do this will depend on recovering a sense of national identity and purpose at home.

Francis Fukuyama: senior fellow at Stanford University 

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition of The World Ahead 2022 under the headline “The end of American hegemony”

No Comments

A Memorial to the Terrorists – When the Terrorists Are Us

A Memorial to the Terrorists – When the Terrorists Are Us

By Michael Moore

November 23, 2021
Eleven days ago on Veterans Day, while watching the cable news, I learned that our Congress, never missing a chance to ingratiate themselves with what they think Middle America wants — more money for the military, more flags flying everywhere, more fake patriotism and more pandering to the fake patriots — decided it was time to create a brand new national memorial on the already overcrowded National Mall in Washington, D.C., between the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol building. The memorial will be called “The Global War on Terrorism Memorial.” I’m not making this up. 
And what patriotic politician or red-blooded American wouldn’t be in favor of that! 

Well, me. I’m not in favor of it. And I hope you won’t be, either.

A memorial to the victims, the brave Americans who’ve died in The Global War on Terrorism. Is this an Onion prank? An Orwell novel? Because my first question is — the victims of whose terrorism? The scattered actions of a few crazed Muslims?

Or the massive, organized, government-sponsored terror from a half-crazed Christian nation where half of its people still worship an orange man in a long red tie? 

It turns out, this proposed memorial is not to honor those Third World people who’ve been slain by the sword in our hands. It’s for our dead! Would anyone mind if I stated an inconvenient fact? Other than the horrific, tragic loss of nearly 3,000 people in just two hours on that one day in September of 2001, the total number of Americans slaughtered by foreign terrorists over the past 50 years, is perhaps an average grand total of 10-20 people a year.

Every life is precious. But let me give this some perspective. By any means of mathematics, history, or honesty, when it comes to creating terror and killing the innocent, the USA is the modern day Genghis Khan and Bubonic Plague rolled into one. Whether it’s the four million we killed invading and bombing Southeast Asia in the 60s and 70s, or the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed by the sanctions we’ve imposed on Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, the former Yugoslavia and Syria over the years, or the 200,000 George W. Bush killed in his 2003 Iraqi invasion, or the one million Iranians who died when Bush’s Daddy and Reagan backed and armed Saddam in his invasion of Iran in the ‘80s (and when that killing wasn’t enough, we switched and began selling arms to both sides, just for fun).

 

An Iraqi child suffering from a birth defect at Falluja General Hospital west of Baghdad. Birth defects soared in Fallujah after the U.S. invasion (Muhannad Fala’ah / Getty)

As D.H. Lawrence once pointed out, “the essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.” Our European ancestors came here and committed an unimaginable genocide of the Native Peoples, and it would not be until the democratically-elected Adolph Hitler came to power that the world would once again see such a level of bloodshed and madness. 

While we were killing off the American Indians, our European forefathers also went to Africa to kidnap human beings and bring them in chains to America and force them, under the most brutal conditions, to build this new country for us, to farm it for us, to raise many of our children — all while our white slave masters raped their women on a daily basis and lynched any of them who dared to learn to read. Terror? Oh, ya. We wrote the user’s manual on it. 

But this new potential National Monument on Global Terror is not about the terror we’ve committed. It’s to honor Americans who’ve been killed by foreign terrorists. And to honor our troops who have killed those terrorists and their innocent families. The irony is so rich and so depressing. A nation that terrorized and slaughtered the people who were already here, and that has been killing Black people from 1619 right up through George Floyd and beyond, a nation populated by numerous white supremacist terrorists who will never see a day in jail (in fact, they now get seats in Congress), and the nearly two million people of color incarcerated, hunted, detained, chained by an ankle bracelet — mostly to terrorize their neighbors and families to prove to them just exactly who it is that runs this damn country. 

So now the chief terrorists are planning to build a memorial to themselves, to heap praise on themselves over how valiantly they have fought terrorism. Wow. Talk about hubris! Like the Brits constructing a memorial to themselves for how well they fought off the Catholics in Belfast. 

Or the Spanish honoring their vicious Inquisition. 

Or the Israelis building a monument to how many Palestinian civilians they’ve killed. 

Or a statue to “Feminist Leader Mitch McConnell” for his work in getting the government to take control over women’s reproductive organs. 

Please. Let’s get our definition of terms straight. It is terrorism when thousands of police are hired to contain the poor in slums and trailers. It is terrorism to seize a family’s home because they can’t pay their child’s hospital bill. It is terrorism to send those children to dilapidated schools ensuring their lifetime of poverty. It is terrorism when 40 million people in your country are hungry, 50 million can’t read or write above a 5th grade level, and a million others must sleep on the streets or under bridges. Infrastructure! It’s all about the optics when terrorizing the poor is the main idea. 

And what good terrorist wouldn’t want to claim the mantle of the victim instead of being the terrorizer? Of course, many whom we have labeled as “terrorists” are in fact the victims of ours or others’ terror. Is a Palestinian mother whose home has been bulldozed and her children killed — and then she responds in what we would call the self-defense of her family and country with an act of violence against those who did the killing — is she a terrorist? Or is she a patriot, a colonial, a Yank, a freedom fighter? When we invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, and then some of those civilians in turn made IEDs and placed them on the roads to kill our invading troops, were they the “enemy terrorists,” or were they simply trying to defend their homes and save their own lives? 

 

Decades after the Vietnam War, children in Vietnam are still feeling the effect of the U.S. use of Agent Orange (Chau Doan/ Getty Images)

The nation that terrorizes not only the world but its own people (as we do) does not have the moral right to build a memorial to itself as the “victims” of terror and the defenders of the innocents. And to build it right next to the Vietnam War Memorial, a monument that exists to remind us of our own senseless acts of terrorism on the Vietnamese people, a memorial that stands with its nearly 60,000 names as an apology to our young dead, a monument that sorrowfully screams NEVER AGAIN. A granite wall that is inscribed with the names of the nine boys from my high school who were sent there to die. In vain. For nothing. That’s why you honor them with a memorial. 

But our current Congress hopes we will stand by and allow a monument to a Lie sit beside the World War II memorial to my uncle killed in the Philippines, your grandfather who died on the beach in Normandy, your father who sacrificed his life that day in Pearl Harbor. Let’s not allow this degradation of their lives by those who seek to politicize our National Mall. We already have numerous 9/11 memorials. We need a Wounded Knee memorial. We need restitution (or something similar) to the descendants of slaves. We need a monument to the millions of American women raped by American men, and the hundreds of millions of women who since our beginning have been held back, held down, the door shut in their face, the better job denied, only allowed, to this day, to hold just 26% of the seats in Congress when they are, in fact, the majority gender. We need a Rosa Parks Day. 

We need someone to forgive us.

, ,

No Comments

Post US withdrawal from Afghanistan Part – 2   Brig.Gen (Retd) Asif Haroon Raja

Post US withdrawal from Afghanistan

Part – 2

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

“We are all brothers and sisters under the skin and above it . . . it’s super important that we stop lobbing bombs over the top of the wall and start trying to dismantle it, so that we can say ‘hi’ to whoever is on the other side, whether the divide is religious or nationalistic or politic or economic.” – Roger Waters

Punitive acts

The western world is bent upon teaching a lesson to the Taliban for their audacity to degrade the sole superpower and NATO. Calculated steps are being taken to crumble Afghanistan’s economy and to make it a failed state. Apart from freezing their foreign exchange reserve and directing the IMF and World Bank to suspend financial aid, the US is pressuring the international community not to recognize the new regime in Kabul. Without recognition, humanitarian aid cannot be galvanized.

Instead of bailing out the new Taliban regime in Kabul from the economic crisis by providing humanitarian assistance and according it diplomatic recognition, it is accentuating its melancholies. It will provide assistance based on conditions that aid will be distributed by its NGOs and 2600 Afghani agents who were evacuated by CIA. Fake news are being spread by Indo-western media and sponsored protest marches for women rights organized in Kabul and other big cities to debase the Taliban.

Upset by the growing rapport between Pakistan and Taliban, the US wants to penalize both by using the tools of diplomatic isolation, economic war, proxy war, hybrid war and sanctions. Dollars are pouring into Pakistan to destabilize the political situation, weaken the economy and possibly bring about a regime change.    

The USA being the biggest war monger and violator of democratic and human rights is demanding from the Taliban not to violate human and women rights, promote girls education and to form an inclusive regime of its choice.

Ironically, massive human rights abuses committed by India and Israel against the Kashmiris and Palestinians, and both involved in ethnic cleansing to change the demography have never bothered the biased US leadership.

India’s undiminished bellicosity

Egged on by the US and Israel to intensify bellicosity against Pakistan, Indian media has intensified fake propaganda by claiming that Pakistan is behind the incidents of target killings of 9 Indian soldiers and some others in occupied Kashmir, as well as the attack by rebellious Sikhs against the RSS thugs in India, who are brutalizing minorities especially the Muslims. Hype similar to the post-Pulwama incident in Aug 2019 has been created and demand for surgical strikes has reached a crescendo. India’s Home Minister Amrit Shah has hurled a threat in this regard.

To up the ante, Indian anchors are screaming and straining their lungs over the incident of the Indian submarine saying that Pakistan’s claim of detecting it and forcing it to trudge backwards is false. Another threat was tossed to cancel the India-Pakistan T-20 cricket match due on Sunday. Earlier on, India was behind the cancellation of cricket series in Pakistan by the New Zealand and British teams. These bullying tactics are not new and have always been used to hide the genocide and rapes of the Kashmiris, and to placate Indian masses fed up of price spiral, growing poverty, rising cases of rapes and crimes and groaning under the misrule of fascist Modi regime.  

Desperate to return to Afghanistan, India is making concerted efforts to win over the new regime in Kabul and is offering extensive humanitarian assistance. Moscow’s help to convince the Taliban has also been sought.             

ISIS-Khorasan (IS-K) pitched against Taliban

The IS-K which was imported from Iraq and Syria in 2015 has been propelled to carryout suicide and bomb attacks in the major cities of Afghanistan and foment sectarianism to create insecurity. The CIA Director had stated last August that the best way to fuel trouble would be to make the Shias fight against the Sunnis as had been done in the Middle East. Sectarian game is being played with a dual purpose to show to the world that Afghanistan is an insecure country and it is beyond the capacity of the Taliban to control them. Secondly, justify the US air intervention.

 

The two most battle hardened and ideologically driven Sunni groups (Deobandis and Salafists) have been pitched against each other to once again engulf the war-ravaged country into another round of civil war. While the hardline IS-K is war monger, and has an international agenda of change, the reformed Taliban desire peace and friendship with all the countries. They had given ample chance to the militants led by Ahmad Masood in Panjshir to settle the matter through dialogue and when Masood refused, the valley was forcibly wrested on Sept 6. Tajikistan and Iran are feeling uneasy with Panjshir coming under the control of the Taliban.  

Time is not far when the Taliban would be forced to launch a full-fledged offensive to eliminate IS-K, which is also posing a threat to Pakistan. Earlier this menace is eliminated from the Af-Pak region, better it will be for the overall peace and security of the region.         

G-7 Conference

It was held on Aug 24 by video to discuss the Afghan situation. The EU members were more concerned about the safety and evacuation of their nationals and their Afghan loyalists from Afghanistan. They promised one billion Euros humanitarian aid for the Afghans but so far the amount has not been received. 

 

G-20 Extraordinary Conference

 

Pakistan and Iran, the two important immediate neighbors of Afghanistan were not invited to the conference by video held on Oct 12. Although the purpose of the conference was to generate donations for Afghanistan, no tangible results came out since the reps of western countries “wanted to tell the Taliban how to run their country and how to treat the women”, and laid down these terms as necessary conditions for doling out assistance. Russia and China wanted to follow the policy of non-interference. Another meeting is scheduled on Oct 30-31.  

 

Russia’s role

 

Russia hosted a summit at Moscow on Oct 14-15 to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan which was attended by reps from China, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, five Central Asian States and India. The US was absent. It was a follow up of the Dushanbe Summit of the SCO. A bombshell was dropped by Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov bluntly stating that the core burden of post conflict economic & financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by the USA-NATO occupying the country for 20 years.

While India and Tajikistan expressed their grievances, the Taliban PM Abdul Salam Hanafi argued that the current interim regime is already inclusive. 500,000 employees of the former regime have kept their jobs.

Vladimir Putin praised the Taliban efforts to tackle the threat posed by the IS-K and he said that there are 2000 Jihadis of this outfit, whose locations are known to the Russian intelligence and can easily snuff them if the Taliban gave a green signal. He also lauded Pakistan’s role, emphasizing that it was among the most important players in Afghanistan. It was decided to convene an international donor conference under the auspices of the UN.

The NATO Summit

 

The NATO summit of the defence ministers was held at Brussels on 19-20 Oct. The insensitive participants did nothing to help out Afghans except for giving sermons to the Taliban and holding them accountable for the ongoing acts of terror and alleged human rights violations in Afghanistan.  

 

Pakistan’s endeavor for peace

Pakistan is making hectic efforts to provide relief goods to the stressed segments in Afghanistan and has assured Rupees 5 billion immediate relief, but is itself deeply immersed in a host of internal issues. It has been appealing to the neighbors of Afghanistan as well as the OIC for a collective humanitarian response and is also urging the world bodies including the USA to come out of their materialistic mode and for the sake of humanity, mobilize international assistance for the Afghans who have been living in hellhole for the last 40 years.

Their miseries would proliferate in the winter season, but egotism, antagonism, greed and bigotry is coming in the way of humanity. There is an urgent need for global convergence in Afghanistan to avoid the humanitarian crisis and coordinated efforts for the economic uplift of the Afghan people.            

 

Pakistan’s challenges

Pakistan has decided not to play into the hands of global powers like a hired gun to fight their wars and has opted to become a strong proponent of peace. It is in the backdrop of this change of policy that Imran Khan in reply to the question of the nosy western reporter asking him whether Pakistan will extend airbase facility to the US, had spontaneously retorted ‘Absolutely Not’. His curt response has not been received well in Washington. It is not reconciling with the policy of defiance of Pakistan and wants Islamabad to do as told to do or else get prepared for the consequences. The ruling regime is already feeling the heat of the external and internal fronts.

Domestically, the people are getting restive due to rising inflation and uncontrollable price hike. The global economic crunch and Covid-19 have severely hit the economies of the developing world. The energy crisis has soared the prices of oil, gas and coal. Pakistan’s economy which has been in the grip of the IMF since 1990 is tumbling and debts are surging. External debt repayment is $ 14 billion and internal debt Rs 2.7 trillion. Economist magazine has listed Pakistan’s inflation 4th highest out of 42 countries. Pakistan needs gross external financing of $ 51 billion in current and next financial year to fulfil its needs. The IMF is levying tough conditions which if implemented would further enrage the people. FATF has again postponed its decision of taking Pakistan out of the grey list till next February.

Under the prevailing grim environment and foreign agenda of a regime change, the possibility of coming out of an economic crisis is getting dimmer. Taking advantage of the unsettling trends, the PDM, PPP, Jamaat-e-Islami and the TLP have started flexing political muscles. They have embarked upon another round of protest marches and are hopeful to dislodge the government which they consider as incompetent. Their target is Imran Khan and they want to pay him in the same coin. Tough times are awaiting the rulers. What is urgently needed is political consensus and economic certainty as well as bridling up of paid media spreading gloom to ride out the brewing storm.      

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Veterans Think Tank.

 asifharoonraja@gmail.com

, , ,

No Comments

Future of Pakistan-US relations   Asif Haroon Raja

Baleful intentions of USA

 

Future of Pakistan-US relations

 

Asif Haroon Raja

 

“The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination … the so-called ‘war on terrorism’ is being used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic geopolitical objectives … In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action. The evidence again is quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11.”  – Michel Meacher

Occupational agenda based on fake charges

The initial target of the George W. Bush administration influenced by the Zionists, the neo cons, and the American Jewish lobby was Iraq, but in Sept 2001 the order of priority of taking on eight Muslim countries was changed and Afghanistan was picked up as the first target country. Seven Muslim States in the Middle East were listed to change its boundaries, capture oil, and pave the way for the establishment of Greater Israel. Based on this agenda 9/11 attacks were fore-planned. 

Afghanistan was chosen to make it a permanent military base of the US, from where it could eliminate all the Islamic radicals including Al-Qaeda who had taken part in the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets, block China’s economic growth and Russia’s resurgence, denuclearize Pakistan, bring a regime change in Iran and harness the resources of Central Asia and gain dominance over the Eurasian belt.   

Afghanistan was invaded, heavily bombarded and occupied since the ruling Taliban regime was accused of violating human rights, particularly women rights, committing the grave sin of harboring Al-Qaeda and refusing to hand over Osama Bin Laden.

Apart from avenging the deaths of 2977 people in World Trade Centre in New York allegedly by Al-Qaeda, declared objectives of occupying Afghanistan were to free the Afghans from the clutches of cruel Taliban, reset the ideology of the country from Islamic Emirate to a Republic, make the Afghans well-educated, progressive and to make the country peaceful and prosperous by introducing western democracy, and promoting human/ women rights.

Factually, the US had no intentions of accomplishing these objectives since its hidden motives revolved around geo-economics. Not only attacks on the WTC on 9/11 were engineered, both Afghanistan and Iraq were occupied on fake charges.  

It was due to insincere and baleful intentions that in spite of spending $ 2.3 trillion during its 20 years period of occupancy, the socio-economic conditions and security of Afghanistan instead of improving further deteriorated. Standard of life of the elite class living in major urban centres was improved and the women liberalized, but 70% of the downtrodden people continued to live in abject poverty.

Quest for military solution proved fruitless

Bush, Obama and Trump firmly believed in the use of military force for a military solution, failed on all counts and created a big mess which went beyond their capacity to clear it. Other than the nukes, the invaders employed all sorts of lethal weapons to crush, or intimidate, or tire their opponents but achieved zero-sum results.

After failing to gain a military edge over the Taliban with the help of two troop surges and raising the combat level to over 140,000 in 2009, Obama concluded that it was beyond the capability of the ISAF and ANDSF to defeat the Taliban. He ordered the completion of the drawdown of troops by Dec 2014, starting in July 2011. Pentagon and ISAF Commander Gen Petraeus prevailed upon him to retain a small Resolute Support Mission (RSM) of about 12000 troops to back up ANDSF which till then had not acquired desired operational preparedness to fight independently. Islamic State of Khurasan (IS-K) was also brought in from Iraq and Syria in 2015 by CIA and RAW as a backup support.      

Donald Trump raised the level of RSM to 20,000 in 2017, escalated the air and drone war and dropped the mother of all bombs at Nangarhar. Finding the US-NATO troops in a logjam, and their well-trained and equipped 350,000 strong ANDSF unable to even contain the momentum of attacks of the Taliban, Trump had to sullenly open parleys with the Taliban to arrive at a political settlement. The Kabul regime was excluded from talks since the Taliban considered them collaborators, puppets and not worth talking about.

Doha deal and its implementation

The US-Taliban remained engaged in a series of peace-talk sessions for 18 months (Sept 2018-Feb 2020) and signed the Doha peace agreement on Feb 29, 2020 according to which all foreign troops were required to quit by May 1, 2021. In compliance with the Doha deal, the Taliban desisted from attacking foreign troops and allowed them to pull out safely. Not a single attack was carried out from March 2020 onwards. 

After the agreement, Trump had ten months (March to December 2020) to withdraw forces by air and to shift heavy baggage, military vehicles/equipment by land through Pakistan. By the time he handed over power to his successor Joe Biden in Jan 2021, the US troop level in Afghanistan had been reduced from 20, 000 to 2500 and the exit was orderly and graceful with no mishap.

Biden had four months at his disposal (Feb to May 2021), which were quite sufficient, but under intense pressure, he extended the date of departure to Sept 11, and then pushed it back to Aug 31. Seven months period was long enough to undertake an orderly drawdown of only 2500 troops, but the intentions were dishonest. Instead of making any gain by this extension, a sudden flurry of attacks by the Taliban which reached a crescendo in July triggered fright and everything was lost.

Many were surprised to hear Biden giving his expert opinion in July 2021 that the Taliban will take six months to reach the outskirts of Kabul and that the ANA will fight it out. This optimism that Kabul would hold on, was based on the feedback of thousands of the US think tanks, Pentagon, CIA, RAW and NDS. The policy makers in Washington were confident that six months’ time was sufficient to arrive at a political settlement and to tie up all details for a smooth withdrawal.

Much against the speculation that they would take at least 6-8 months to threaten and take over Kabul, sudden encirclement and occupation of Kabul on August 15 by the Taliban, resulted in panic and a hasty and disorderly withdrawal, which was more of a rout.

Misreading of Taliban’s final offensive

The Taliban spring offensive was launched after May 1, 2021 by which date all foreign troops were supposed to have exited. It was the final phase towards the victory stand. Their rapid gains bewildered the policy makers in Washington as well as the spoilers. Their hurricane-like advances on multiple fronts flabbergasted the Pentagon, leaving it with no choice but to vacate the military bases in haste. Vacation of the biggest Bagram airbase on the midnight of 2/3 July was a classic example of confusion, disorder and jangled nerves. They were left with no choice other than destroying the weapons and equipment stacked in the fortified military bases. 

Photo Courtesy-https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/06/21/taliban-afghanistan-war-propaganda/

One fails to comprehend why this big timeframe of fall of Kabul in six months was given, which was later reduced to three months in August, when most of the provinces had been captured by the Taliban, seven military bases abandoned, only 650 US troops were garrisoned in Kabul base, and the ANA had been surrendering one province after another without a fight.

It is also intriguing as to why Ashraf Ghani behaved so obstinately till the very end when his boat was fast sinking, and why the US didn’t force him to step down on August 14 if not earlier when his goose was cooked?

Was Ghani forced not to resign in order to create conditions for bloodshed? Was his sudden flight to UAE with lots of cash on the afternoon of August 15 by design so as to create an administrative and security vacuum and to stimulate bedlam in Kabul since the Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Deputy President Rashid Dostum had already fled?

The war mongers hoped against hope that a broad-based government in Kabul inclusive of the leaders of Northern Alliance would pave the way for continuation of the US presence in Afghanistan. They had also wishfully hoped that extending the cutout date given by Biden might convert defeat into victory. Tussle between the two sides, one favoring and the other disfavoring, was at the cost of wasting precious time and prolonging the agony. Extending the date proved costly for Biden.

Ill-intentioned narrative and expectations

One wonders on what basis the Indo-Western media started harping from June onward that there will be disarray, bloodshed, civil war and refugee exodus. The biased media stuck to this narrative when not a single incident of violence was reported in all the districts and cities captured by the Taliban? Intelligence reports speculated pitched battles between the Taliban and ANA in cities and it was expected that the former would resort to retributions.

The detractors were very hopeful that the fleeing refugees from the big cities would home towards Pakistan and taking advantage of the melee, all the terrorists and spies would be pushed into Pakistan.    

To ensure the safety of Kabul, and in case of its fall, safe exit of the US diplomats and other American nationals as well as the Afghan interpreters and loyalists, the US took control of Kabul airport and its security where a sophisticated air defence system was installed.  

An engineered suicide attack at the gate of Kabul airport by IS-K was launched on August 25, about which the US officials had been warning from August 22.

If the US was in the know of an impending attack, why did the US take such a big risk of inducing thousands of Afghans to reach Kabul airport to be flown to the wonderland of the USA, and presented such a lucrative target? Besides putting the lives of Afghans in danger, it endangered thousands of its troops, diplomats and nationals stranded in Kabul. Was the real purpose to foment chaos?

As predicted, the mob assembled outside the airport gate was struck by a suicide bomber on August 25 killing 170 Afghans, 13 US Marines and wounding hundreds. Reprisal actions with drones on August 26th and 29th struck innocent civilians. The US C-130s airlifted thousands of Afghans packed like sardines, but left behind US-NATO troops, diplomats and nationals. The US apologized for the August 29 attack and has offered compensation to the next of kin of the 11 victims.    

Future of Pak-US relations

From 1954 onwards, Pakistan had put all its eggs in the basket of the USA and on several occasions had put its national security at stake to prove that it was the most allied ally of the USA. Infatuation to the USA by successive regimes of Pakistan didn’t lessen even after getting betrayed repeatedly.  Pakistan was put off the radar of Washington in 1990 after which it only sees India in this region and none else. Pakistan has become an eyesore due to its nuclearization, closeness with China and the CPEC.  

After 9/11, the US unenthusiastically took Pakistan on board to ease its occupation of Afghanistan, and then to fight the longest war and lastly to pull out safely.

Pakistan was forcibly dragged into the US imposed war on terror which it fought tenaciously and produced best results but suffered the most. Since the US was governed by baleful intentions from the very outset, all the achievements of Pakistan security forces distressed the US and India.

When the heavily fortified strongholds of Swat and South Waziristan were overpowered in 2009, and all the tribal agencies of FATA less North Waziristan, that had been taken over by the foreign supported TTP, were recaptured in 2010, and the ISAF had to abandon its boots on ground strategy in Afghanistan and announce a plan of withdrawal due to resurgence of the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan, the flummoxed Obama and Pentagon took out their anger on Pakistan in 2011 by carrying out series of hostile acts starting from Raymond Davis incident, to Abbottabad attack, to Memogate and Salala attack. The last hostile act against the so-called ally which dipped Pak-US relations to lowest ebb forced Pakistan to respond defiantly.

Pakistan a convenient scapegoat

Throughout the war, the US and its strategic partners kept hatching conspiracies to disable Pakistan’s nuclear program while Pakistan considered them allies and kept doing more and in the process got bled.

Pakistan played a key role in the success of Afghan peace talks culminating into historic Doha agreement, in starting intra-Afghan dialogue in Sept 2020, and in restraining the Taliban from attacking foreign military targets. It played a historic role in evacuating 10,000 people from Kabul including American-NATO forces, American diplomats, IMF-World Bank officials and Afghan nationals and lodging them in Islamabad hotels.

Pakistan’s sacrifices and its efforts to please the overbearing USA were rudely brushed aside and was held responsible for the cataclysmic ending of the war. Conversely, India which failed the US on all fronts was kept in its tight embrace and handsomely rewarded simply because it offered profitable economic and IT markets, bought heavy consignments of armaments from the US and Israel, helped in boosting the game of intrigue and deceit, and in spreading fake news and narratives.

With all its troops back home, the US now wants to avenge its humiliation at the hands of the Taliban allegedly supported by Pakistan. The whole blame of the US defeat and its chaotic exit is pinned on the convenient scapegoat Pakistan.     

 

Pakistan no more useful to USA

The only interest the US has in Pakistan is to make it agree to provide an air base or air corridor to enable the US air force to conduct counter terrorism air operations in Afghanistan. In other words, the US is least interested in peace in the Af-Pak region and is determined to stoke instability and to keep the Chinese, Russian and Iran influences in Afghanistan at bay.

If Pakistan relents, it will be tolerated, and if it defies, it will be punished. Currently, the US leaders are in a bad mood and their patience is wearing thin. The indicators to that end are Joe Biden refusing to make a telephone call to Imran Khan, the unfriendly statements of the American civil and military leaders, Secretary of State Wendy Sherman stating that “we don’t see ourselves building a broad relationship with Pakistan”, anti-Pakistan bill moved by the 22 Republican Senators, and American Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad hobnobbing with Pakistan’s opposition leaders.

The other hostile acts are the IMF’s sinister dictations, pressing Pakistan to further devalue its currency and raise the taxes on petroleum, gas and electricity, FATF hesitating to whiten Pakistan, and India’s recent threat of launching a surgical strike, and Indian submarine sneaking into Pakistan’s waters which was chased out. India’s belligerence is encouraged by the USA.

Under the given circumstances, India and not Pakistan will be the preferred partner of the USA in South Asia. Any hope nurtured by the ruling regime in Pakistan or GHQ to alter the frostiness in Pak-US relations into friendly relations is like chasing the rainbow.           

 

The writer is retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

   

, , , ,

No Comments

Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region Part-3 Asif Haroon Raja

Stimulated instability in Af-Pak region

Part-3

Asif Haroon Raja

The steep decline in America’s image and standing after 9/11 is a direct reflection of global distaste for the instruments of American hard power: the Iraq invasion, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, torture, rendition, and Blackwater’s killings of Iraqi civilians. – Shashi Tharoor

Unforgiving attitude of the losers

The Taliban’s meteoric victory has dejected the USA, Europe, India, Israel, Iran, liberals and seculars all over the world but has pleased the Islamists. Countries governed by parliamentary democracy and dictatorship are also upset.

The victorious Taliban after giving general amnesty to the collaborators, have neither carried out any retributions, nor demanded trials of those who had indulged in massive war crimes as was the case with the victors of the 2nd world war carrying out Nuremberg trials of the Germans, or sought war compensations.

The losing US-NATO are however, in black mood, and seem to be primed to avenge their defeat through means other than the military to teach a lesson to the Taliban as well as the convenient scapegoat Pakistan, which was first held responsible for the instability in Afghanistan and now for the victory of the Taliban, and for supporting the new regime.

Ironically the losers are trying to dictate terms to the victors and no one is asking them as to who has given them this right.

Governed by Islamophobia, Islamic Emirate is unacceptable to the prejudiced West, and is therefore finding faults in every good or bad act taken by the new regime in Kabul and is trying to unsettle them. They want them to fulfill their promises immediately. It is like asking a one-month old baby to start running.

The US controlled UN has not fulfilled its commitments given to the Palestinians and Kashmiris 74 years ago. Did the Kabul regime, the Afghan Army and India live up to the expectations of the US, or did the US fulfill its promises made to the Afghans in their 20-year rule?

The US after forcibly occupying Afghanistan chose to keep the heavy majority Afghan Pashtuns out of power and handed over the reins of power to the minority ethnic communities. Idea of an inclusive regime never occurred to the occupiers. The two puppet regimes were responsible for fomenting subversion in the region, deepening cleavages within the Afghan society and for creating a big mess. And yet the US tolerated the puppets and richly rewarded them simply because they governed the country as a so-called Islamic Republic under the US tailored constitution.   

Ill-intended demand of inclusive regime

The interim set-up in Kabul has not pleased the US, its strategic allies, and the neighbors of Afghanistan. All are insisting on an inclusive regime not realizing that how can revolutionary Taliban accommodate collaborators who aided and abetted foreign occupation, undertook mass killings and inflicted cruelties upon them. Traditionally, the revolutionaries undertook mass killings of their opponents. 

The Northern Alliance elements are though Muslims, but have a secular bent of mind and are predisposed to the western civilization and not to Pashtunwali code. They had extended their loyalties to the invading Soviet forces and also to the western forces and served them loyally. They showed no mercy to the oppressed Afghan Taliban.

Interestingly, none has insisted on selecting honest, upright and capable persons from various ethnic communities on merit.

There is no room for liberal political philosophy in Islam which had given birth to pro-rich and anti-poor deceitful modern democracy. 

Continuation of hostile policy

Yes, war is hell. It is awful. It involves human beings killing other human beings, sometimes innocent civilians. That is why we despise war. – John O. Brennan

The US is angry with Pakistan on account of refusing to provide a military base for counter terrorism purposes, its new policy of defiance and Imran Khan’s brashness to show mirror to the West. The US has got addicted to the pliant leaders and cannot tolerate defiant leaders.  

 

 

 

 

 

While Daesh-K has been activated to carry out acts of terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, other hostile measures undertaken so far are freezing of Afghanistan’s $9.5 billion in the US banks, suspension of financial assistance by the World Bank and the IMF, and pushing the Taliban regime to grant more freedom to the women and to induct bigger number of women in the parliament.

Hybrid war has been intensified to vilify Pakistan and to disconcert the new regime in Kabul.

The US know that since the Taliban cannot be browbeaten, purchased, tricked, or humbled, the only way to have a toehold in Afghanistan is to include the lackeys from Northern Alliance in the interim as well as in permanent set-up who can be easily manipulated to act as fifth columnists and to help in sabotaging peace and stability.    

To punish Pakistan, the TTP, BLA and Daesh-K have been brought under one umbrella to accelerate terrorism in former FATA and Baluchistan, sword of FATF hasn’t been removed, and cricket teams of New Zealand and UK have cancelled their tours on account of invented insecurity. Australian and West Indies teams are likely to follow suit. Indian hand in the cricket racket has been traced and proof sent to ICC.

Political polarization and terrorism have been further intensified by the detractors to project Pakistan as politically unstable and an insecure country in order to block foreign investment.

Instability in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan suits the spoilers since it will impede the progress of CPEC and will also prevent Afghanistan getting connected with it for which the Taliban have expressed their readiness.

Taliban’s amiability

Much to the chagrin of the spoilers, the Taliban are giving right signals to elicit support of the international community. They want to expand trade ties with other countries and have expressed willingness to induct more Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and also women in the cabinet. After operationalizing the badly damaged Kabul airport, they are seeking restoration of international flights. Their amiability will however be not at the cost of making compromises on Sharia laws.

The Taliban have forgiven their internal and external enemies, but have not forgotten their treachery. They have agreed to cooperate, but not at the cost of losing Islamic identity, Islamic culture and values. They have no intention of falling into their honeycombed trap promising moon and are taking measured steps sensibly. 

Pakistan’s stance

Since problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan are interlinked, the latter is keen to restore stability in Afghanistan at the earliest. It is right in saying that the Afghans having gone through four decades of turmoil need healing. Apart from dispatching humanitarian assistance, trading in local currency and lowering tariffs on import of fruits and vegetables, Pakistan is lobbying hard to convince the international community to send all possible assistance to stabilize the new regime.

In its view neglecting the Taliban would be disastrous for the region in particular and the world in general due to financial, food and health crises and rising poverty in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is making strenuous efforts to bring all the six neighbors of Afghanistan in one loop to tackle Afghanistan’s socio-economic issues regionally and has made good progress.

Terrorism major worry of Pakistan

Apart from economic woes, Pakistan’s major worry is continuing acts of terrorism. Reportedly, bulk of the TTP elements and its affiliated groups have moved into Pakistan and are regrouping in Loralai and Zhob. The TTP leader Noor Wali Mehsud is dreaming of bringing back former FATA under his sway and to make it an Islamic Emirate. To win over the locals, the TTP is targeting law enforcement agencies only.

The Baloch groups led by BLA have teamed up with Dr. Allah Nazar’s Lashkar Baluchistan group. They are targeting security personnel and Chinese in Quetta, Awaran, Kharan, Turbat, Gwadar, Mastung, Sibi, Mach, and Bolan. BLA-Daesh-K terrorists are operating jointly from Nago hills in Mastung and are in contact with dacoit gangs in interior Sindh. A cell of Baloch rebels is functional at Sheerzan (Chahbahar) led by Rasool Bux. With the closure of Spin Boldak main supply route, the terrorists are receiving funds and weapons from India via Sindh, Mekran coast and Sistan.  

Several intelligence based operations have been conducted in Waziristan and Baluchistan, and good results achieved. Several militant leaders were gunned down and large caches of arms recovered. Speedy completion of fencing of southwestern border along with improved border management has become necessary.      

China’s role

China is keen to fill the power vacuum in Afghanistan and has developed good understanding with the Taliban. Its flagship project of CPEC cannot perform optimally without stable Afghanistan and getting connected with CPEC through Peshawar-Kabul Highway. It has extended 200 million Yuan aid to Kabul, which includes 3 million corona vaccines. China’s foreign minister told his counterpart in Washington that it was unethical to freeze accounts of war-torn countries and advised him to unfreeze Kabul’s cash assets and to extend humanitarian assistance.

The writer is a retired Brig Gen, war veteran, defence & security analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, and Member CWC PESS & Think Tank. asifharoonraja@gmail.com    

To be concluded

ReplyReply allForward

, , , , ,

No Comments