Friday, October 26, 2007

Memo To Robert Gates From European Allies: The War In Afghanistan Is Lost

The war in Afghanistan -- never a true or noble cause -- is now being described by America's most important European allies as a lost cause as well. Unfortunately, "lost" in this sense does not mean "finished".

The repercussions from this failed war will be immense and very ugly -- especially because the Americans still can't see that it's lost.

The Telegraph : Afghanistan is lost, says Lord Ashdown
Nato has "lost in Afghanistan" and its failure to bring stability there could provoke a regional sectarian war "on a grand scale", according to Lord Ashdown.

The former United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina delivered his dire prediction after being proposed as a new "super envoy" role in Afghanistan.

Lord Ashdown said: "We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely."

Lord Ashdown added: "I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq. It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite [Shia], Sunni regional war on a grand scale.
If there is any solution to be found, it lies mainly in the realm of politics.

This Is London : War with Taliban 'could last for years' warns defence chief
British troops could remain in Afghanistan for "decades", the head of the Armed Forces warned yesterday.

And even then the conflict will only be resolved by a political deal - after talks with Taliban leaders, said Sir Jock Stirrup.

In an interview, the Chief of Defence Staff said: 'In terms of bringing Afghanistan into its rightful place in the 21st century, that is an enormous project, that will engage the international community, frankly, for decades.

"There is a common misperception that the issues in Afghanistan, and indeed elsewhere around the world, can be dealt with by military means.

"That's a false perception. The military is a key, an essential element in dealing with those problems, but by and large these problems can only be resolved politically."
It's too bad the Americans don't understand any of this.

The Guardian : Gates Doubts Europeans' War Commitment
Defense Secretary Robert Gates [photo] on Thursday questioned the commitment of some NATO allies to winning in Afghanistan, saying the outcome there is at "real risk" because some European nations are unwilling to provide enough troops and resources to the mission.

"If an alliance of the world's greatest democracies cannot summon the will to get the job done in a mission that we agree is morally just and vital to our security," he told the European army generals, "then our citizens may begin to question both the worth of the mission and the utility of the 60-year-old trans-Atlantic security project itself," referring to NATO, which was created in 1949.
I have bad news for Robert Gates.

First, The "getting the job done" is a fantasy. The job itself is impossible. Nobody has ever conquered Afghanistan, and nobody ever will.

Second, we do not agree that the war is morally just. We remember the Taliban's offer to hand over Osama bin Laden if the Bush administration could provide evidence that he was responsible for 9/11. Six years later, even the FBI doesn't have such evidence. Thus, the assumptions on which the war is declared to be morally just and noble are incorrect -- perhaps intentionally misleading. Note that this applies not only to the war in Afghanistan but to the entire "war on terror".

Third, it would be a good thing if our citizens began to question the worth of the mission. Many of them are already doing so. It would be an even better thing if our citizens begin to question the worth of the politicians who sent us on that mission, and the false pretext on which that mission is based. And some of them are doing that as well.

On second thought, maybe none of this is news to Robert Gates. Maybe he knows all these things already. But clearly he cannot say them.

And that's why we have bloggers.