Americans in Afghanistan : Going back home soon ?

September 30, 2009

The widely discredited presidential elections, the reluctance of the United States and its allies to commit more troops on the ground and a lack of vision about Afghanistan are slowly contributing to the gradual weakening of the US power in Afghanistan . Afghanistan is slipping out of Obama’s hand.
The recent Afghan elections are widely perceived as unfair by a majority of the population. There were widespread allegations that ballot boxes were stuffed, ballots pre-marked, and polling stations closed during the elections.
The preliminary tally gives President Hamid Karzai 54.6 per cent of the vote, compared to 27.8 per cent for his main opponent, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. The European Union’s election monitoring team says a third of Karzai’s votes are questionable. If the official, UN-backed, Electoral Complaints Commission agrees, Karzai’s vote count could drop to less than 50 per cent, forcing him into a second round “run-off” vote against Abdullah. It may not be possible to hold such a vote before harsh winter weather cuts off Afghanistan’s mountain regions, which would prolong the political inertia well into next spring.
However to avoid such long drawn out political instability, international community is already veering towards some kind of a quick fix to avoid a run off. It is likely that Karzai will become President again. However this time he will be a greater liability. His lack of legitimacy will only feed into the insurgent propaganda. The Taliban have always alleged that the Karzai government is corrupt and only a puppet of the foreign occupying forces. And this time many Afghans will agree with them.
At the same time , General Stanley McChrystal, the top US and NATO commander for Afghanistan, in a grim assessment of the conflict, warns that a “failure to … reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) … risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” McChrystal’s demand for further troops, however, comes at a time when opinion polls indicate an increasing American public desire to limit and even reduce commitment to an ‘un-winnable’ war. As intense debate in the Obama administration revolves around the need to send or not to send more troops into the Afghan abyss, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released in August found 51 per cent of Americans saying the war is not worth fighting, with 70 per cent of Democrats holding that opinion. Only a quarter of those polled supported an increase in troop levels. Obama is also under pressure from his own party members, notably Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., against any commitment towards an ‘open ended’ war. Late August, Democrat Senator Russ Feingold called for a “flexible timetable” for removing US troops from Afghanistan.
NATO countries, too, are looking for an exit plan after the spike in violence over the past few months. Italy, which lost six soldiers this month, is the latest. In Germany, the Afghan conflict has become a major election issue. And if the violence and casualties mount, others will follow.
Will these chain of events eventually result in a withdrawal of the US occupation forces from Afghanistan ? Will the eventual withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan result in a vacuum that will lead to a brutal civil war which will tear the country apart? Will Pakistan again back Taliban ? Will the mujahedeen’s emboldened by defeating two superpowers in succession not engage in actively exporting terrorism in Central and South Asia and to the rest of the world ?
To rule you must be clear in your thoughts, you must have the guts to battle it out and most importantly you must be just. The Obama administration is lacking on all these. And soon they will not be the rulers of Afghanistan. That is certain . But what will happen next is too horribly uncertain.


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