On June 23 the world was delivered amazing news: the U.S. has achieved victory in Afghanistan and therefore is starting to withdraw its troops from there. In his speech, Obama said that his country has largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, and therefore within a year one-third of the American soldiers would leave there.
In fact, we are talking about the evacuation of the "reinforcement" that Obama has brought to the country two years ago. In 2014, there will be no U.S. troops and their allies on Afghan land, as the allies do not intend to extend their "Afghan walk" longer than the Americans.
One of the main goals of the mission was the defeat of Al Qaeda, which is said to have dealt an unexpected blow to the States on September 11, 2001. As a "victory" the Americans present the alleged destruction of Osama bin Laden in the neighboring Pakistan. The long-awaited removal of the "terrorist number one" in any case was used by Obama for the declaration of early withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Let us even assume that this is indeed the case. Yet, this is where the US's success ends. As we know, the elimination of one leader does not lead to the elimination of the terrorist network. In this case, in the ten years of struggle, the organization was only weakened but not destroyed.
In addition, it was not the only problem of the Americans. And no matter what Obama said, many in the American political elite think differently. On June 8 The Washington Post published a statement by Henry Kissinger who admitted that the stated objective of creating a government and internal security structures that could be relied upon for the defense of Afghanistan, by and large, are considered unattainable until 2014.
As for the Taliban, which the United States calls closest allies of the Al Qaeda, the success there is much more modest. In fact, the coalition currently controls less than one third of the Afghan territory. Outside of the military bases and cities Taliban feel like fish in the water.
Of course, there cannot be any talks about the progress of democracy in Afghanistan. The resistance to the occupation forces only increases from month to month. If a couple of years ago the northern areas of the country were considered relatively safe compared to the south, now the number of attacks on NATO troops has increased there.
On the surface the situation does not look so bad. Yes, the U.S. wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on the support of the "Afghan democracy", but lost much fewer lives than the Soviet troops. As of June 20, irrecoverable losses of the U.S. troops amounted to 1,633 people. It would seem that it is not much in comparison to Vietnam. However, looking at the results, it becomes clear that there are no obvious successes of the U.S. and its allies in the area. The total losses amounted to 2,520 soldiers. To this we must add the loss of mercenaries from private military and security companies. This is a loss of 1,764 people, bringing the total to 4,284 deaths.
Yet, for the West at the moment this is a lot of losses. The fact that the operation of the U.S. and its allies was doomed to fail was obvious from the beginning. It was only a matter of time. Endless continuation of the costly war with the enemy that the Afghan people sympathized with is impossible, especially when allies like Canada are running from the front.
The loss in the first place is attributed not to the soldiers and officers, but politicians who sent them there. They sent them to the place where no one has ever won, and where there is no purely military solution to the problem.
From a political point of view, the American withdrawal may outshine even the "Vietnamese costs." For the United States and its allies it is very difficult to recognize the fact that their presence in Afghanistan not only did not achieve the expected results, but also generated a great deal of haters of the Western society. Recently American researches conducted a survey that yielded shocking results: 40 percent of Afghans candidly and explicitly stated that the purpose of the stay in Afghanistan for the Americans was not to fight terrorists but destroy their country and Islam.
This is the opinion of the people who do not sit in the mountains. It is very important that they did not provide evasive answers and spoke about their sentiments openly. Is it surprising that the Afghan people so openly show hatred towards those who came onto their land uninvited with weapons in their hands? However, in no small part the Americans themselves affected the image of the democracy. The evidence to it is endless drone strikes at the wedding and funeral processions. With this approach it should not be a surprise that one killed Taliban member is immediately replaced with two Afghans who dream of revenge to the West for this democratization.
The U.S. president cannot be entirely blamed for misinformation. In the same speech, he, in fact, denied his previous statement. According to him, the war should be ended responsibly at the time when there is a risk of military overstretch. The military, however, do not agree. On the contrary, this decision goes against their wishes as they recommended more cautious and less hasty actions. Does this look like an implicit recognition of the inability to cope with the performance objectives?
What will happen after the withdrawal of the NATO forces? All the functions still performed by the occupation forces, according to Washington's plans, will be assigned to the current Afghan leadership.
However, with this approach it is anyone's guess how many days or even hours the Taliban will need to make Karzai repeat the fate of Najibullah abandoned by Moscow.
It would be naive to think that Washington does not understand the implications of their withdrawal. What is it, the inability to continue an expensive operation in the time of a crisis, a pre-election stunt or a maneuver for the redeployment of U.S. forces strike group in a new direction?
Likely, it has to do with all the three issues. The U.S. presidential elections are coming next year. Judging by the polls, over 70 percent of Americans believe that Washington should withdraw from Afghanistan. The first candidate to deal with the Afghan withdrawal can expect at least a portion of those votes.
No less serious are the economic issues. Obama mentioned them in his speech when talking about the rapid changes in political and economic life of America tired of the war and the need to focus on the problems of nation-building at home. Now even the most influential American experts do not exclude the U.S. default. There are not that many ways to avoid it. In the first place it is a sharp reduction of spending. The authorities have to be extremely cautious in the social sphere, as any belt-tightening action may bring the Americans into the streets.
However, one can try and plug the gaps by eliminating excessive military spending. In this regard the United States is ahead of any country. Moreover, over the past ten years, because of the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq this spending has grown to hundreds of billions of dollars.
Now the "defense" budget of the most democratic state in the world is equal to that of the military spending of all other countries combined. In order to maintain superiority over its competitors, more modest spending would be enough, much of which accounted for the Afghan war.
Now they have to make the withdrawal not to look like a shameful fleeing from the battlefield and a defeat of the democracy. Leaving Afghanistan with the head held high will not work. No wonder that a month ago some reports surfaced that the U.S. has entered into negotiations with the Taliban. Judging by the leaked information, the Americans are even prepared to ensure that Karzai, under certain safeguards, allows allies of the Al-Qaeda, as asserted before Washington, to the Afghan government.
However, it would be tantamount to an outright transfer of power to the Taliban that would take power into their own hands in a day. So far the negotiations have not been successful. The Taliban, knowing that time is working for them, demonstrate clear perseverance and place a condition of full withdrawal from the Afghan land of all occupation forces.
No matter how the U.S. furnishes its Afghan affairs, in any case, NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan would be seen as the biggest "victory of Islam over the Crusaders." However, it will not only be a loss for the West. The victory of the Taliban will give impetus to jihadists around the world. The "ripples" from the American withdrawal from Afghanistan will inevitably affect Central Asia, Iran, India and China. But first and foremost it would affect a nuclear state of Pakistan that is getting increasingly immersed in a state of instability.
However, it all may change. As we know, despite the triumphant Obama, tens of thousands of American security forces continue to be stationed in Iraq. No one will give precise guarantees that in the event of "unforeseen circumstances" after the election in 2012, Washington will not change its decision.
However, one of the main intriguing points is precisely where the withdrawn American troops will be heading. These thoughts are brought by a vague statement of Obama made on June 23 regarding, "the changing nature of threats in the region."
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