Suddenly, the phrase on many lips seems to be, it’s time for the endgame in Afghanistan. The Russians must be laughing up their sleeves. All they did when they tried to conquer Afghanistan is the same as the Brits were forced to do in a different imperial era. Their “endgame” in their individual attempts to tame Afghanistan was to simply pack up, walk away, and face failure.
Now, the United States is looking for its way out. Washington is hedging, waiting to see if the “international community” will contribute sufficient additional forces to relieve both the financial burden Afghanistan is imposing on the creaking U.S. economy and the strain it is placing on overstretched U.S. defense forces.
This week, nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen took a lead in the Afghanistan political and military quagmire, releasing a video on Wednesday showing real confidence in the hope that help is on its way to bring the campaign in Afghanistan to its endgame.
In that webcast, Rasmussen declared, “In recent days I have become more optimistic, because I’m confident that we will get new momentum. Soon things will be much clearer …. The United States and other allies and partners will make decisions on the approach to take our mission forward. I’m confident it will be a counterinsurgency approach with significantly more forces …. I expect that within a few months we will agree on a new contract between the international community and the government in Kabul that requires clear progress to meet clear benchmarks” (emphasis mine throughout).
The nato chief expressed confidence that “where conditions permit,” local security will be handed over “in a coordinated way” to Afghan forces. “This will allow us to progressively move into a supportive role.”
Rasmussen expressed appreciation for the $5 billion worth of aid promised to the Afghan government by Japan. He also noted that the European Union has approved an action plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He concluded by stating, “I will be pushing hard to make sure that allies come up with more troops and more resources” to make all this happen. “We need to sustain the new momentum in Afghanistan.”
The nato chief’s public statement was timed for release as President Obama’s trip to Asia was drawing to a close and the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was about to land in Afghanistan.
Though President Obama, during stopovers in Japan, Singapore and China, had avoided commenting on Afghanistan (which commentators correctly noted is Washington’s most pressing international policy decision), journalists pushed him to answer the question toward the end of his Asian trip. The Washington Post reported that “the topic loomed large when he sat down for interviews with four U.S. television networks …. Obama—who was interviewed by cbs, cnn, Fox News and nbc—said more firmly than ever that he is seeking an ‘endgame’ to the long-running military effort in Afghanistan …. Obama has let Afghanistan, which he deemed the ‘necessary war,’ recede into the background during stops in three foreign capitals” (November 18).
The Post noted that the president “told reporters that he would announce a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan ‘in the next several weeks.’” There can be no doubt that the extra troop commitments announced very recently by Germany and South Korea, together with the sizable aid package from Japan, in addition to new pressure from nato, are all intended to force a decision from Washington on the extent of the additional commitment that the U.S. will make to what Anders Fogh Rasmussen has described as a “counterinsurgency” effort by allied forces.
But what was it that suddenly turned the tide in this whole Afghanistan political scenario? Well, it’s interesting to note that this rush of statements and new commitments in support of a renewed effort to counter the Taliban in Afghanistan all happened after one certain foreign minister stood up and declared war on the Taliban—Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, foreign minister of Germany.
Before Guttenburg stepped up to the plate and, breaking German postwar political protocol, used the war word to describe a German military campaign for the first time in German postwar history, allies fighting in Afghanistan seemed to be at a stalemate, waiting for Washington to make a move. But Germany’s new defense minister is nothing if not a realist. He knows that the U.S. is broke and its military forces are extremely overstretched, with morale among U.S. troops in Afghanistan dropping.
The contrast between the American and the new German approach to the war in Afghanistan is stark. Guttenberg flies to Afghanistan, tells the troops it’s war, gives them a boost of 120 additional troops with the indication that the EU (under German influence of course) will send another 5,000, gets shot at by the Taliban on his departure, and the morale of German troops in Afghanistan goes through the roof. So does the morale of the German High Command in Berlin.
A few days later, nato’s chief takes to the Web, publicizing his optimism and confidence that the Afghanistan campaign “will get new momentum” and that “soon things will be much clearer” thanks to the mounting of “a counterinsurgency approach with significantly more forces.”
Rasmussen’s reference to reaching these conclusions “in recent days” surely was not pinned on any hope of impending dramatic action at that time from the U.S. This week the U.S. president was taking a low profile on Afghanistan, only stating that America might show some action on the subject “in the next several weeks.” This does not jive with the sense of imminent action being anticipated by nato chief Rasmussen.
What is not being publicized in this whole Afghanistan equation is the reality that Germany simply cannot afford to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Germany and the European Union are overly dependent on Russia for their supply of energy. Already, as winter approaches, there have been warnings yet again that gas supplies from Russia may stall during the depths of winter. Germany and the EU desperately need to secure alternative supplies of oil and gas. The Middle East is the most obvious alternative to Russia. Germany has maneuvered to have its navy deployed in the Mediterranean and in the waters off the Persian Gulf, both crucial seaways giving access via Suez in the north and the Gulf of Oman in the south to Middle East oil.
Germany needs to secure the eastern perimeter of the oil “golden triangle,” which embraces Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. That perimeter is the eastern border of Iran abutting Afghanistan. That is why Germany has made sure of its deployment in the northwestern sector of Afghanistan. It is Germany’s need for ongoing dependable sources of energy that requires it to secure that triangle of black gold resources.
Germany realizes that it has almost played the U.S. to the point of exhaustion in fighting wars to secure for it the territory it needs to fulfill the global ambitions of its elites.
There will be an endgame for the war in Afghanistan! That endgame, for Germany, will simply be when it takes charge of the forces securing Afghanistan and fulfills the biblical prophecy, mounting a whirlwind attack on Iran, then taking over the oil “golden triangle” in the Middle East (Daniel 11:40). •