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Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?

- DR. Abdul-Qayum Mohmand

Analysis of “CIA World Factbook” (1981-2012): Dimensions of anti-Pashtun Conspirac

Afghan Fury at Planned Pakistan Pact
What Happens When the U.S. Leaves Afghanistan?
Trying to leave Afghanistan proves to be as troublesome as being there: A Closer Look
Afghanistan: “It’s Just Damage Limitation Now”
Zero Dark Thirty Review-Analysis; Eleven Instances of Disinformation
Why is America Failing in Afghanistan?
 
 
 
US forces in Afghanistan nearly destroyed vital airfield
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Former Islamist Warlord Vies for Afghan Presidency
Pakistan releases top Afghan Taliban prisoner in effort to boost peace process
Losing the War in Afghanistan
Obama’s troop increase for Afghan war was misdirected
Afghan security vacuum feared along "gateway to Kabul"
Objections to U.S. Troops Intensify in Afghanistan
The Great Afghan corruption scam
War zone killing: Vets feel 'alone' in their guilt
Was Osama for Real? And Was He Killed in 2001?
Afghanistan withdrawal: The risks of retreat
The Real Reason the US Invaded Afghanistan
The Definition of a Quagmire
Huge Uncertainty' in Afghanistan
Controversial ID Cards Expose Ethnic Divisions In Afghanistan
Afghanistan: The Final Curtain Call for NATO?
Afghanistan After 9/11: A Mission Unaccomplished
Why Should Taliban and Other Insurgents Refrain from Negotiation With the US & NATO? By: Dr Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, Ph

Exclusive: Karzai family looks to extend boss rule in Afghanistan.

Intrigue in Karzai Family as an Afghan Era Closes
For Afghans, Two Outrages, Two Different Reactions
Double blow to west’s Afghan strategy
Does the Taliban need a diplomatic voice?
Afghanistan: Lessons in War and Peace-building for US
Afghan women opposed by former allies
Q+A - Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy
Haqqanis: Growth of a militant network -BBC
Afghanistan shelves plans for ambassador accused of fraud
Afghan nominated as ambassador to Britain was accused in US of fraud
U.S. deal with Taliban breaks down
The Loneliness of the Afghan President: Karzai on His Own

NATO's Third Alternative in Afghanistan

On the Road: Interview with Commander Abdul Haq:- The Tragedy of Abdul Haq
When the Lion Roared: How Abdul Haq Almost Saved Afghanistan
AFGHAN WARRIOR: THE LIFE & DEATH OF ABDUL HAQ
Pakistan’s ISI: Undermining Afghan self-determination since 1948
Mineral Wealth of Afghanistan, Military Occupation, Corruption and the Rights of the Afghan People
M. Siddieq Noorzoy
Why Isn’t the UN Investigating and Prosecuting the U.S. and NATO for War Crimes Committed in Afghanistan?
Corruption and Warlordism:
Abdul Basir Stanikzai
In Afghanistan, U.S. contracts aren’t crystal balls, but they come close
The great Afghan carve-up
Anatomy of an Afghan war tragedy
Terry Jones Actually Burns a Qur’an and No One Notices
Q+A-Are Afghan forces ready to take over security?
Guantánamo Bay files rewrite the story of Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora escape
Winning Afghan hearts, minds with explosives
Afghanistan’s Mercenaries
KABUL’S HORIZONS
Who is winning Afghanistan war? U.S. officials increasingly disagree
Afghanistan: The Trouble With The Transition
From the Archives: In Quest of a ‘Greater Tajikistan’
The 1980s mujahideen, the Taliban and the shifting idea of jihad
Afghanistan's Karzai complains about interference
Karzai, US ambassador at odds over private security

Karzai Tells Washington Post U.S. Should Reduce Afghan Operation Intensity

Excerpts from Afghan President Hamid Karzai's interview with The Washington Post
What the Afghans Want
New US approach to Afghanistan insurgency: Vindication for Pakistan?
Putting Some Fight Into Our Friends
Afghans 'abused at secret prison
Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq
Indo-Pakistan proxy war heats up in Afghanistan
Canada’s elite commandos and the invasion of Afghanistan
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
Five myths about the war in Afghanistan
Marine who resigned over ‘conscience’ speaks at MU
The Afghan media may have grown since Taliban rule ended, but not so press freedoms
Mystery holes and angry ants: another Afghan day
Kabul Bank's Sherkhan Farnood feeds crony capitalism in Afghanistan
Marjah War
Operation Moshtarak: Which way the war in Afghanistan?
Q&A: Why Marjah, why now?
In Jalalabad, hope is fading
Seeking reconciliation, US units meet remote Afghanistan tribes
Once Again, Get the Hell Out! "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
Blackwater Kept a Prostitute on the Payroll in Afghanistan; Fraudulently Billed American Tax Payers
Wild West Motif Lightens US Mood at Afghan Bas
In southern Afghanistan, even the small gains get noticed
 Afghanistan war: US tries to undercut Taliban at tribal level
 Soviet lessons from Afghanistan
Are actions of 'super-tribe' an Afghan tipping point
Taliban: Terrorist or not? Not always easy to say
Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?
Vietnam Replay on Afghan 'Defectors'
Washington's Refusal to Talk about Drone Strikes in Pakistan Meets Growing Opposition
Afghanistan summit: Why is the US backing talks with the Taliban?
Taliban's leadership council runs Afghan war from Pakistan
Why buy the Taliban?
2 Afghanistan conferences: No solutions
An Alternative to Endless War - Negotiating an Afghan Agreement?
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
Afghanistan asks ex-presidential contender to tackle corruption

Tehran Sets Conditions For Attending London Conference On Afghanista

Pakistan says reaches out to Afghan Taliban
Taking It to the Taliban
The Afghan Taliban's top leaders
How significant is Mullah Baradar's arrest?
Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander
What's the Quetta Shura Taliban and why does it matter?
What's behind latest Taliban attack on Kabul? See Images of the Attack By WSJ

Pakistan Version of Islam and Taliban ?????
Lahore fashion week takes on Talibanization in Pakistan

Loyalties of Those Killed in Afghan Raid Remain Unclear

After Attack, Afghans Question Motives or See Conspiracies
Gates: Taliban part of Afghan ‘political fabric’

IG: Afghan power-plant project ill-conceived, mismanaged

Taliban intensifies Afghan PR campaign

Taliban Overhaul Their Image in Bid to Win Allies
Karzai plans to woo Taliban with 'land, work and pensions'
Peace scheme mooted for Taliban
Bombs and baksheesh
But By All Means, Continue the Happy Talk on the Afghanistan War
Karzai Closing in on Taliban Reconciliation Plan
Last Exit Kabul
How To Get Out Without Forsaking Afghanistan's Stability
Afghan Recovery Report: Taleban Buying Guns From Former Warlords

'Jesus Guns': Two More Countries Rethink Using Weapons with Secret Bible References

Gun bible quotes 'inappropriate'
Text of Joint declaration of Afghanistan-Iran-Pakistan trilateral meeting
Garmsir Protest Shows Taleban Reach
Rugged North Waziristan harbors US enemies
The Arrogance of Empire, Detailed ( The Untold Story of Afghanistan )
Appointment of Afghan counter narcotics chief dismays British officials
In Afghanistan attack, CIA fell victim to series of miscalculations about informant
Rebuilding Afghanistan: Will government take hold in this post-Taliban town?
Rare bird discovered in Afghan mountains
Blackwater, now called Xe, in running for work in Afghanistan despite legal woes
How Soviet troops stormed Kabul palace
Afghan children 'die in fighting'
Afghanistan war: Russian vets look back on their experience
U.N. Officials Say American Offered Plan to Replace Karzai 
Learning From the Soviets
U.S. faults Afghan corruption body's independence
Intensify fight against corruption, says Afghan meeting
Afghan ministers cleared of charges
Drone aircraft in a stepped-up war in Afghanistan and Pakistan
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Kissinger's fantasy is Obama's realit
Taliban shadow officials offer concrete alternative
Talking with the Taliban
20. Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart
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US pours millions into anti-Taliban militias in Afghanistan
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New U.S. Afghan prison unveiled, rights groups wary
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Patrick Witty & Tyler Hicks
The New York Times


Afghanistan Cross Road CNN


The last frontier


Bruce Richardson
 

Articles

CIA: Buying peace in Afghanistan?

With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan
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For Karzai, Stumbles On Road To Election
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Cruel human toll of fight to win Afghan peace
Karzai’s gimmick
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$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
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Covering Crucial Afghanistan Operation
Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
Echoes of Vietnam
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Earn our trust or go, Afghans tell GIs
Running Out Of Options, Afghans Pay For an Exit

We've lost sight of our goal in Afghanistan

The strategy is sound – but success is not assured
Stakes High in Afghanistan Ahead of August Elections
$2,000 for a dead Afghan Child, $100,000 for Any American Who Died Killing it
Ex-detainees allege Bagram abuse
Petraeus Is a Failure -- Why Do We Pretend He's Been a Success?
Fierce Battles and High Casualties on the Frontlines of Afghanistan
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Outside View: Four revolutions
Pakistan's Plans for New Fight Stir Concern
France: liberty, equality, and fraternity – but no burqas
 

 

 

 

 

Echoes of Vietnam

Even the Coalition commanders in Afghanistan wonder if they can win the war
Will history repeat itself in Afghanistan?

British military intervention in Afghanistan has a chequered history, making it easy to conclude that British forces will fail again


 


Five myths about the war in Afghanistan  
Source: The Washington Post By: Michael O'Hanlon and Hassina Sherjan  

The war in Afghanistan is in its ninth year, and even officials supportive of the U.S. presence there acknowledge the challenges that remain. "People still need to understand there is some very hard fighting and very hard days ahead," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during his trip to Afghanistan last week. But the conflict is not hopeless, nor it is eternal. If we want to develop realistic expectations about the war -- how it might unfold from here and when it could begin to wind down -- it would help to dispel some of the popular mythologies that have emerged about the Afghans, the enemy we're fighting and the U.S. commitment.

1. Afghans always hate and defeat their invaders.

The Afghans drove the British Empire out of their country in the 19th century and did the same to the Soviet Union in the 20th century. They do fight fiercely; many American troops who have been deployed both in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years have asserted that the Afghans are stronger natural fighters.

Yet, the people of Afghanistan do not despise foreigners. Despite downward trends in recent years, Afghans are far more accepting of an international presence in their country than are Iraqis, for example, who typically gave the U.S. presence approval ratings of 15 to 30 percent in the early years of the war in that country. Average U.S. favorability ratings in recent surveys in Afghanistan are around 50 percent, and according to polls from ABC, the BBC and the International Republican Institute, about two-thirds of Afghans recognize that they still need foreign help.

And before we mythologize the Afghan insurgency, it is worth remembering some history. In the 1980s, the United States, Saudi Arabia and others gave enormous financial and military assistance to the Afghan resistance movement that eventually forced the Soviets out. That group grew to about 250,000 in strength in the mid-1980s. But today, the Taliban and other resistance groups receive substantial help only from some elements in Pakistan -- and diminishing help at that -- and collectively, they number about 25,000 fighters.

Finally, though U.S.-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, today's international presence there does not amount to an invasion. Foreign forces are present at the invitation of the host government, which two-thirds of Afghans consider legitimate, if somewhat corrupt.

2. The situation in Afghanistan is much more difficult than the one in Iraq.

The U.S. goals in both countries are similar -- establishing better security and governance and eventually passing total control to domestic authorities -- and there are certainly ways in which Afghanistan poses a tougher challenge than Iraq. There are more tribes to contend with, the drug problem is worse, literacy rates are lower, national institutions such as the security forces and the judiciary are weaker, and the economy is less advanced.

But Afghanistan's history of violence and its relative underdevelopment also make its people realistic about the future; they are grateful for even incremental progress, as polls show. And consider the following signs of improvement: Seven million children are now in school (compared with fewer than 1 million under the Taliban), and some 8 million cellphones are in use among a population of about 30 million -- compared with virtually zero before 2001. Health care is also getting better.

Also, the violence in Afghanistan today is far less severe than it was in Iraq. Before the troop surge in 2007, more Iraqi civilians were killed every month than have been killed from war-related violence in Afghanistan each year. In other words, Afghanistan is less than a tenth as violent as the Iraq of 2004-07. Communities were displaced and sectarian tensions were inflamed far more in Iraq than they have been in Afghanistan.

3. The U.S. military is for war-fighting, not nation-building.

This was a core philosophy for the incoming Bush administration in 2001 -- until the tide of history made George W. Bush the president most preoccupied with nation-building since Harry Truman.

The debate about whether the U.S. armed forces should be involved in nation-building was big in the 1990s, but the nation-builders have won the argument hands down. The terminology has shifted, to be sure, from "nation-building" to "stabilization and reconstruction" missions, but these include efforts to improve governance and the economy as well as security and stability.

Among top civilian and military leaders, there is no real disagreement about whether the armed forces should engage in these types of activities -- at least not in situations such as Afghanistan, where the weakness of a state threatens American security. While Gen. David Petraeus led the writing of the new counterinsurgency field manual, with its emphasis on protecting local populations and helping build up indigenous institutions, it was then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who, in a November 2005 directive, wrote that "stability operations are a core U.S. military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct and support." He added that such operations will receive a "priority comparable to combat operations." That remains U.S. policy.

4. We should negotiate with the Taliban.

There is nothing wrong with negotiating with elements of the Afghan resistance, especially at the local level. If they are willing to renounce violence and accept the authority of the central government as well as the temporary presence of international forces, we can allow them to rejoin society, obtain jobs and perhaps, in some cases, hold government positions. Many insurgents who are motivated less by ideology than by money, opposition to the government or tribal rivalries may fit this bill.

But a major compromise with the central Taliban leadership is not only unlikely -- it's a bad idea. The Taliban is not interested in negotiation and is not the sort of organization with which the Afghan government or the United Sates should ever compromise. Its extremist ideology is misogynous and intolerant, and its history in Afghanistan is barbaric. Most important, the Taliban is extremely unpopular among Afghans.

President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly stated his willingness to negotiate with Taliban leaders willing to renounce insurgency, while British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called for some form of political settlement with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, provided that our core interests are protected. But in general, NATO and Afghan forces will have to establish more battlefield momentum before widespread negotiations become plausible. Any talks must be pursued from a position of strength, so that deals will involve convincing the Taliban to lay down arms rather than pretending that it could share power while clinging to its current ideology.

5. There is no exit strategy or exit schedule.

Some Afghans (and Pakistanis) listened to President Obama's Dec. 1 West Point speech, in which he promised that U.S. forces in Afghanistan would start to withdraw by July 2011, and worried that America's commitment is weak. Many Americans, though, have the opposite concern -- that this war is open-ended.

But if the new strategy being implemented by Gen. Stanley McChrystal is successful, we will see clear evidence of that by late 2010 or 2011. We should then be able to contemplate major reductions in the U.S. military presence starting in 2012.

There are two main reasons for large NATO and U.S. troop deployments in Afghanistan today. The first is to clear and hold key strategic areas, as with the current operation in Marja. This effort will largely culminate in 2010 and 2011. The second is to train Afghan forces. Given schedules for recruiting, training and forming Afghan units, this process will be most demanding through 2012 or so.

Put the pieces together and, while a rapid reduction in U.S. forces starting next summer is unlikely, the United States should be able to cut its presence by perhaps 20,000 troops per year thereafter. This is hardly a quick exit -- at least not as fast as Congress or Obama might want -- and such a time table implies that the United States will still have 60,000 or more troops in Afghanistan when Obama faces voters in 2012. But it is not unending, nor is it unrealistic.

Michael O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Hassina Sherjan is the president of Aid Afghanistan for Education, a nonprofit group in Kabul. They are the co-authors of "Toughing It Out in Afghanistan."

 

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