Even as Barack Obama signals his commitment to victory in Afghanistan, serious warning signs of failure loom.
At the nato summit last week, the president summoned every possible ounce of charm and influence to cajole members of the alliance into joining him in assigning troops to Afghanistan. They glad-handed and smiled—and utterly refused.
President Obama said America would swell its force there by 21,000 troops. (His generals are asking for as many as 10,000 more than that.) Belgium responded by offering all of 35 military trainers. Spain offered a paltry 12. Gordon Brown said the UK would send 500 to 700 troops as a “temporary uplift”—meaning that they’ll return home after elections take place in a mere four months.
(The nature of nato is becoming clear: It’s a forum for Europe to exploit America. When Europe needs U.S. muscle—as in the Balkans war—America steps up and provides it. When America asks Europe to help fight al Qaeda and the Taliban, Europe says it has other obligations.)
But the fact that America looks increasingly isolated in trying to bring the Taliban to heel is just a sliver of the problem.
The strategy America intends to use is deeply flawed. Unveiled by the president on March 27, it focuses on encouraging Afghanistan and Pakistan to assume more of the burden of neutralizing Islamists. It commits 4,000 troops to train an Afghan military force, and $1.5 billion per year for five years to Pakistan to help it fight the Taliban.
But Afghanistan and Pakistan are unreliable allies. Taliban infiltration and sympathy run deep in both nations.
The process of training Afghan military and police forces will provide the opportunity for hostile elements to infiltrate those forces. As Stratfor reported March 30, if America recruits an all-Afghan force, it is likely to attract many Taliban sympathizers. But if it restricts its recruiting only to ethnic groups that are hostile to the Taliban, it is drawing from “a minority pool that the Taliban already defeated in a civil war.” Therefore, Stratfor wrote, “the key question is how reliable the force will be if you go for an inclusive force, or how capable it is of functioning without you if you do not.”
Even then, Obama’s goal is to train just 54,000 new Afghan soldiers and police officers in 33 months. It’s not enough. The U.S. military estimates a force of 400,000 would be needed to secure the country.
As for Pakistan, the predicament is even worse. While Islamabad will no doubt happily accept the billions in aid, Washington is unlikely to get the cooperation it needs from a country whose military and security forces are in cahoots with the Taliban. This same strategy has failed for the past seven years.
The Pakistani military actually formed the Taliban in the 1990s. The alliance between these two entities is simple and strong. Pakistan uses the Taliban as a tool both to keep the West off balance and to ensure that, once the U.S. vacates Afghanistan (which it is sure to do eventually), India won’t move in. Meanwhile, the Taliban thrives on Pakistani support and protection that enables it to control a growing swath of territory in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Nothing in the U.S. plan is going to split this alliance. Evidence shows that in preparation for the U.S. troop surge, it is actually strengthening.
The New York Times recently reported how Pakistan’s military intelligence agency is actually giving funding, military supplies and other help to Taliban fighters who are attacking U.S. and nato forces in Afghanistan. And Pakistani authorities just cut two deals with the Taliban, called “sharia for peace.” The Taliban now has official authority to enforce Islamic law in a huge chunk of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. (This is only acknowledging reality: The Taliban already rules there. To take one example, last December in the Swat Valley district it banned girls from being educated and bombed several schools that refused to comply.)
“The reemergence of the Pakistan-Taliban alliance at this time may be linked to the advent of the Obama administration and to the changing strategic situation in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region,” memri wrote. “Realizing that Obama means to step up the U.S. campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, the Pakistani military has recalibrated its strategic position and brought the Taliban into its fold, to serve as its proxy in a confrontation with the U.S. forces” (April 1).
“No one in Islamabad believes the United States and nato are prepared to stay for five more years, let alone the 10 or more years it would take to transform Afghanistan into a viable democracy,” explained Arnaud de Borchgrave. “Pakistan’s military leaders feel more comfortable with a Taliban-run Afghanistan than with the current crop of moderate leaders who are closer to New Delhi than to Islamabad” (Newsmax, March 31).
This from the “ally” Washington hopes to court in fighting the Taliban.
In the long run, Western powers are hoping that a neutral, al-Qaeda-free Afghanistan can be guaranteed not by America and nato, but by its primary neighbors: Pakistan, Iran and even China. This is not really a plan. It is a fantasy perched on a dream within an illusion.
Michael Yon, writing for the Washington Times, says that just like the previous administration, “Mr. Obama is trying to win the AfPak war on the cheap while minimizing political risks.” He concludes: “Unless we speed up progress in AfPak, we are on the road to a slow, painful failure. If we are going to fight with half-measures, we should pull stakes and come home. Despite the backslapping going around, with Pakistan ready to lap up billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars while corrupt Afghan officials are excited to see more billions flying in their direction, the pungent reality is that the latest ‘plan’ is a plan to fail.”
The lack of leadership and national will that Yon alludes to are symptoms of the true reason Washington is in this predicament. That reason is outlined in detail in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Request your own free copy to get a true perspective on America’s current foreign-policy challenges—and to preview the outcome.
In this book, originally written in 1967, Mr. Armstrong foretold the end of the conflict in Afghanistan. “Today America finds herself heir to just about all the international problems and headaches in this post-World War ii, chaotic, violent world,” he wrote. “And the United States has won her last war …. Many other nations sap America’s national strength, ‘and he knoweth it not,’ as God long ago foretold!” (emphasis mine). Mr. Armstrong based his forecast on a collection of stunning biblical prophecies that show America being besieged by curses in our day, including humiliating military defeat.
Don’t be fooled by talk—not even by a troop surge. The warning signs of America’s failure in Afghanistan are clear—just as the Bible said. •