It is confusing that the US fought in Afghanistan the strange type of war it fought. For years, they had nothing more than the equivalent of one division in the whole of Afghanistan – hardly sufficient for the needs of the situation. Then, they came up with a surge around 2009 only to quickly announce they will withdraw by 2014 without ensuring that their worst enemies, the tenacious Taliban, were out of business and out of capabilities to wage military attacks.
…the border town of Peshawar in Pakistan is a teeming arms bazaar where copycat machine guns and all type of hand held armaments are made, including weapons for export to other terror gangs and crime gangs around the world, yet the US did absolutely nothing solid to target that activity.
It is amazing that the Taliban were permitted to get support and funds from across the border south of the Durand Line and that the US was barely able to suppress their activities. A few drone attacks don’t substitute for what ground troops can do. That the US did not take a more stiff approach to the issue is most perplexing from a military perspective.
The fact is that the border town of Peshawar in Pakistan is a teeming arms bazaar where copycat machine guns and all type of hand held armaments are made, including weapons for export to other terror gangs and crime gangs around the world, yet the US did absolutely nothing solid to target that activity. These arms have allegedly been finding their way into South and Central America via the tough Albanian Mafia and eventually into USA through Mexico, smuggled in by the dreaded Mara Salvatrucha crime gang. Many of the guns used in the Mexican drug war were possibly produced in Peshawar.
In addition, these arms are used to arm terrorist outfits emanating from Pakistan’s madrasas. Those outfits plot attacks against India, smuggle drugs and other contraband into India on the strength of those guns from Peshawar, and also export those guns to their jihadi brethren in Yemen and anywhere else they can, including perhaps to the Hezbollah and Chechen groups. It is worthwhile recalling that the latest bombing in Boston was by a Chechen origin person who was likely influenced by the Islamist propaganda emanating from Pakistan’s frontier provinces. So, what good has the USA done by not completely destroying the Peshawar arms bazaar, the terror training camps, and the madrasas where anti-western, anti-secular, and distorted jihadi beliefs are taught?
The Pakistan army continues to play a duplicitous role. And, to the contrary, the US literally allows the Taliban to hop across the Durand Line to Pakistan, where they refresh, regroup, rearm, and return to assault US troops. Which strategic war-planning manual says that you should allow your enemy to regroup and rearm? Was the USA blind, or ignorant? Afghanistan is 100% reminiscent of Vietnam where the US tied its own hands behind its back below the 17th parallel and refrained from invading North Vietnam, from where Russian and Chinese arms were supplied to the North Vietnamese. Again, the US hunted desperately for excuses to not enter Pakistan, implying that their diplomatic intelligence and constraints were thoroughly misplaced for the non-action they took. These were not the signs of a brave nation whose own territorial integrity is being targeted and violated.
Compound this with the fact that the USA allowed Afghans to get away with growing poppy in their fields much, much more than they burned the poppy fields. The income from poppy has directly fed the Taliban, and the US hasn’t realized that the ensuing hashish has found its way to the USA via Mexico, and to other friendly destinations in Europe and USA’s allies, not to mention Punjab in India where drugs have decimated the population, thus serving to destroy the youth of new generations and creating social disorder worldwide.
No army can fight by allowing the enemy to live. As General George Patton said, “the only good enemy is a dead enemy.” But then, the USA never listened to Patton’s advice, either, to invade USSR after WW II, thus resulting in decades’ of cold war, enabling the USSR to steal USA’s nuclear bomb secrets…
Much as Peshawar is the headquarters of military-industrial complex of the Taliban, the Baluch border town of Quetta is their veritable financial capital, where transactions for Afghan marijuana are executed, which bring in an estimated $6-10 billion annually into the Taliban coffers that go to fund the Taliban war machine, partly by starving Pakhtun women behind veils of ignorance. Their madness is matched only by that of the US forces who didn’t fully burn poppy fields in Afghanistan for fear of causing a rural groundswell and backlash. To the contrary, Karzai, reportedly in the pay of the CIA by up to one million dollars per year, strongly chastised the USA for burning poppy fields. Self-interest is still the prime motivation of leaders in South Asia. At one time, Karzai’s own brother, since assassinated, was considered complicit in the silent drug trade. It seems that the US is more scared of Afghan words and politics than Afghan bullets that it didn’t care to push through with its poppy-burning plans. I’ve never known a strong army to willfully allow an enemy to gain wherewithal to replenish its stores to return to fight. You think Chengiz Khan or Sikander would have allowed anything like this? It shocks me to think about the type of war the US fought, which has led to no conclusive military result.
The US should have taken a page or two from the history books. Ever since the onslaught of Islam, only the Mongols, Sikhs, and British – in that order — were ever able to subdue the Afghans. But, they did it in the only way the stout and proud Afghans understood: surrender or die. Genghis Khan personally led the attack on Balkh, one of the largest population centers of the world at the time, and masaccered 400,000 citizens because the city dared to fight him. Thus, when the ruthless Mongols came to the gates of Herat in Western Afghanistan, the 12,000 soldiers of Herat and their multitude of citizens, decided to surrender when given the ultimate choice, learning of the fate that had befallen Balkh. So, the Mongols spared the city of Herat, but true to the military spirit of conquest, they still speared the 12,000 soldiers. No army can fight by allowing the enemy to live. As General George Patton said, “the only good enemy is a dead enemy.”
But then, the USA never listened to Patton’s advice, either, to invade USSR after WW II, thus resulting in decades’ of cold war, enabling the USSR to steal USA’s nuclear bomb secrets, and till even today have Russia to counter American democracy by propping up Syria, construct for Iran a nuclear plant, not to mention the aid Russia gave to North Vietnam against the USA, and to the Arab dictators against democratic Israel.
After entering into an agreement with the Afghan king in 1818 to invade Kashmir and be given Rs. 9 lakhs for the effort from the treasury of Kashmir, Maharaja Ranjit Singh discovered that the treasury had been discretely emptied by the Afghans under instructions from their king with further instructions to withhold payment to Ranjit Singh. Not batting an eyelid at the Afghan’s reneging on their contract, Ranjit Singh quietly withdrew his forces to Attock, near Peshawar, where he waited patiently for the Afghan forces to return via the Khyber to Kabul. Not having intelligence of the movement of the Sikh army, the unwary Afghans under the command of Dost Mohammad, the vizier’s brother — with their 9,000 strong army – charged the superior, 16,000 forces of Ranjit Singh, and were decimated. The oncoming forces of the vizier of Afghanistan were also miserably clobbered. Finally, not only did the Afghans lose the treasury to Ranjit Singh, but lost the entirety of Kashmir to the Sikhs. After that, the Afghans only experienced the strong boot of the Sikhs on their neck, and that is what kept the Afghans subdued.
The lesson in these two examples: strong arm tactics succeed in Afghanistan. The US is NOT using strong arm tactics, but comes in preaching liberty and democracy to a people who understand only Islam and jihad, who laugh and scoff at American liberalism, and end up showing that their boys are better cowboys than the American variety. The Rambo of America is only in Hollywood movies, but the Afghan nationals sacrificing their lives for their pride have shown the world who the real Rambos are.
There was always a high degree of probability that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan or Pak-occupied Kashmir. Yet, the US refrained from going after bin Laden there with the full force of its army soon after October 2001
In a strange assessment of the situation, the US allowed its enemies in Afghanistan to not only live, but regroup, rearm, and return. In a surprise move, the US returned captured prisoners, such as a few they had in Guantanamo, who then went back to Pakistan and promptly launched new attacks against the US and US forces. This is not a sign of the terrorists gone mad, but of the US losing wisdom. The only consolation the US can have is that it’s not half as crazy as India. Whereas the US just let go a few dozen prisoners, India let go of 90,000 in the aftermath of the 1971 war. As the popular Hindi saying goes, “Hindustan ko chulloo bhar paani me doob jana chahiye.” Now, Pakistan threatens and teases India at every opportunity, castrates Indian soldiers, and India acts impotently. India is reaping what it sowed by returning the prisoners. Somehwat similarly, the US has been much too soft on the Afghans.
There was always a high degree of probability that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan or Pak-occupied Kashmir. Yet, the US refrained from going after bin Laden there with the full force of its army soon after October 2001. Pak-occupied Kashmir does not even belong to Pakistan, as many will argue, so the US could scarcely have been accused of committing international aggression by going in there. Pak-occupied Kashmir is de virtuoso no-man’s land, so it seemed advisable for the US to get in there, especially before the Chinese get in in full force, which they are already beginning to do in the province of Baltistan.
Now, the USA is 100% bent on withdrawing from Afghanistan, but it isn’t after securing a convincing victory. The Taliban stand to surge back to power, propelled by a vindictive ISI bent on taking revenge for past reversals. Karzai may be deposed, or worse, lose his life as Najibullah did, though one can only hope that a torturous fate doesn’t await Karzai. Consequently, after 13 years in Afghanistan, and approximately one trillion dollars later, Afghanistan is on track to return to square one, with the Taliban suppressing women rights and girls’ education, pushing poppy everywhere it can, and supporting jihadi attitudes throughout the middle-east that will only find their way to be exported to India, Europe, and wherever the resistance is least.
By now, the US should have launched a three-pronged invasion to the towns of Quetta, Peshawar, and Gilgit. See the map with this article. By capturing Quetta, they would have quashed the financial power of the Taliban; by grabbing Peshawar, they would have saved the world from much of the scourge that is an export arms bazaar for crime gangs and terrorists; and by putting in a footprint in Kashmir, they could have been where they want to be – in the center of Asia – with a base they could call their own – with an ability to check China’s expansion westward to the oilfields of the middle-east. The war could have potentially been over by 2003 or 2004. But, the USA didn’t have the will or the mental energy.
India is stuck with these neighbors forever. If India cannot live with them, it must learn to live without them, which means that India must gear for war. Even if India does not want war, I am quite certain that war wants to find India, and India does not appear to be ready.
So, the net result is that the war on terror will not have reached a fulfilling conclusion. Instead, this war will be extended to haunt the world for an indefinite amount of future time. USA’s allies in democracy – India particularly – stands to bleed by another thousand cuts thrust on them by the Taliban and ISI-supported terrorists who would have the time and purpose then to continue their jihad against India, having patted themselves on the back for ejecting yet another superpower from their country.
But India has no place to go across the oceans, like the US has. India is stuck with these neighbors forever. If India cannot live with them, it must learn to live without them, which means that India must gear for war. Even if India does not want war, I am quite certain that war wants to find India, and India does not appear to be ready. So, this puts an added burden on India to fill in the shoes that USA leaves behind, who are running as if with their tail between their legs, as if they didn’t have any power between them.
The US simply needed to think realistically, and have fought this war at the enemy’s thinking level to crush their will, if they wished to prevail. Add to such fighting the technological superiority of the US, and victory was guaranteed. But with the US fighting “diplomatically,” hoping to cut a deal with the Taliban, no technological superiority can even be conceived to prevail, and, in that event, only defeat of the US purpose is guaranteed.
Thus, the US is returning home with the full knowledge that the aftermath in Afghanistan is not going to be anything like the aftermath in Iraq. The status quo in Iraq that the US imposed has an assurance to succeed because there was no major external threat to Iraq. Any adventure by Shia Iran had an assurance of retaliation by Sunni Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, thereby maintaining a power balance because both these opposing forces have equal access to Iraq’s borders. In Afghanistan, only Pakistan has direct border access, with China a close ally of Pakistan, while India shares no physical border. The role that Iran may play is still a wild card, largely because Iran has been relegated to a wannabe nation after economic sanctions with little effective military power. Therefore, the power distribution in Afghanistan is far different from the one in Iraq. And, we will see if the USA rues the day it left Afghanistan. For sure, the Afghan environment is very likely to be far from stable.
 Peter Tomsen, “The Wars in Afghanistan,” 1st ed., Public Affairs, Perseus Group, pp. 28, 2011
 In fact, President Bill Clinton, in his asininity, gave information to Pakistan in 1997 that it had launched missiles from the Indian Ocean to Osama bin Laden’s camp in Afghanistan. Within the one hour it took the missiles to travel to Afghanistan, the ISI had transferred this information to Osama bin Laden and helped him evacuate immediately.