WASHINGTON: The war in Afghanistan — the war that President-elect Barack Obama pledged to fight and win — has become an aimless absurdity, Time reports. It began with a specific target. Afghanistan was where Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda lived, harbored by the Taliban government. But the enemy escaped into Pakistan, and for the past seven years, Afghanistan has been a slow bleed against an array of mostly indigenous narco-jihadi-tribal guerrilla forces that we continue to call the “Taliban”, the magazine added.
Thousands of U.S. troops are expected to be deployed to Helmand and Kandahar provinces next spring. They will be fighting under the same limitations as the British, Canadian, Danish and Dutch forces currently holding the fort, which means they will be spinning their wheels. And that raises a long-term question crucial to the success of the Obama Administration: What are we doing in Afghanistan? What is the mission?
We know what the mission used to be — to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and destroy his al-Qaeda command. But once bin Laden slipped away, the mission morphed into a vast, messy nation — building effort to support the allegedly democratic Karzai government. There was a certain logic to that. The Taliban and al-Qaeda can’t base themselves in Afghanistan if something resembling a stable, secure nation-state exists there. But the mission was also historically implausible: Afghanistan has never had a strong central government. It has been governed for thousands of years by local and regional tribal coalitions. The tribes have often been at one another’s throats — a good part of the current “Taliban” uprising is nothing more than standard tribal rivalries juiced by Western arms and opium profits — except when foreigners have invaded the area, in which case the Afghans have united and slowly humiliated conquerors from Alexander the Great to the Soviets.
The current Western presence is the most benign intrusion in Afghan history, and the rationale of building stability remains a logical one — but this war has become something of a sideshow in South Asia.
Before Obama sends another U.S. soldier off to die or be maimed in Afghanistan, President-elect Obama needs to deliver the blunt message to the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan that we will no longer tolerate their complicity in the deaths of Americans and our allies, a slaughter that began on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and continues to this day. Obama will soon own this aimless war if he does not somehow change that dynamic.-SANA