Afghanistan Theatre: A war that cannot be won or lost
Dawn, 25 Jul, 2009
We should be careful of what we wish for. For years now, there has been a chorus from the right as well as the left in Pakistan, calling for foreign troops to pull out of Afghanistan.
There are indications that they might get their wish before too long.Although July is still not behind us, Britain has already lost 19 soldiers killed in combat, while 150 have sustained serious injuries in this month alone. The war in Afghanistan has already lasted longer than the Second World War, and has cost the British government £5.6bn. And the military still cannot give any timeframe for the duration of the campaign.
No wonder, then, that ordinary people are growing weary of the conflict, especially in the wake of the recent spike in casualties. These days, it’s hard to pick up a newspaper, watch a TV chat show, or listen to a newscast without some criticism of the government’s conduct of the war. In a recent poll, the majority of Britons wanted the troops back by the end of the year.
Although Americans are more used to having their troops fighting in distant lands, fatigue with this unending war is setting in. As Robert Gates, the American secretary of defence, said recently, US citizens as well as the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan are getting sick of their involvement there.
Even though Barack Obama has made Afghanistan the centrepiece of the American battle against Islamic extremism, things can shift quickly in Washington if rising costs and casualties sway public opinion.
More and more pundits and military experts in London and Washington are stating the obvious: the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. Already, military and political goals have been scaled back to lower public expectations. One of the stated aims of the current ‘surge’ is to stabilise the most violent provinces in order to prevent the Taliban from disrupting next month’s presidential elections. However, all indications are that the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, will win easily.
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Karzai Vows More Control Over Foreign Troops - New York Times
A proud moment for Afghanistan - Guardian