Beginning of the End in Afghanistan
Image Credit: US Navy

Beginning of the End in Afghanistan

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For the first time since the start of the war in Afghanistan, the United States is starting to think concretely about its exit strategy. And none too soon: according to recent polling, public support for the war has fallen off a cliff since last year, with two-thirds of Americans now saying that the war is no longer worth fighting. Nearly three-quarters, meanwhile, say that they want President Barack Obama to withdraw substantial numbers of forces in July, when the president has promised to begin a drawdown.

The extent of that drawdown is still uncertain. While some administration officials have said that the withdrawal would involve only token forces—a few thousand or so—a former Pentagon official told me that the White House might take out as many as 30,000 troops between July and December. Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, Obama’s top adviser on Afghanistan, told me that the goal in the first phase is to unwind Obama’s most recent surge, taking out 30,000 troops, but that it might take as long as 12 to 18 months to complete the pullout. That would still leave about 70,000 US forces personnel in Afghanistan, whose gradual withdrawal would take until 2014, when the Afghan National Army and police are supposed to take over responsibility for security.

More important than projected troop numbers, however—after all, troop levels can be adjusted at will—is the fact that the United States is now signalling openly that it wants to focus on a political and diplomatic solution, one that involves talking to the Taliban. In a little-noticed speech to the Asia Society in New York on February 15, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a series of significant shifts in US policy in Afghanistan. Where previously the United States had insisted that before talks could begin, the Taliban had to accept a number of preconditions—namely, that it must renounce violence, abandon its ties to al-Qaeda, and accept the Afghanistan constitution—in her speech, Clinton made clear that these were no longer preconditions for talks but only ‘necessary outcomes of any negotiation.’

Clinton also gave her full support to ‘reconciliation’ with the armed opposition in Afghanistan, meaning a political bargain with the Taliban leadership, rather than ‘reintegration,’ which wuld entail the recruitment of low-level Taliban into pro-government ranks. ‘I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable,’ Clinton told her audience. ‘And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace.’

Comments
10
Marleny
February 22, 2012 at 01:07

This is crfaiomntion from Hillary that Iran wants to and should play baraadar bozorg (big brother, no, not 1984) in its own neighborhood. All roads go through Iran. Well done indeed!

Chris Dowd
March 27, 2011 at 06:06

The lie that we are fighting the “Taliban” in Afghanistan is just one of the many many many many lies we are choking on in this country. We live and breath lies in America.

Omar
March 27, 2011 at 05:42

Hahaha…United State of Losers!

Can’t even take out a few hundred men with all those high-Tech weaponry..

Jamie
March 27, 2011 at 03:37

I hope the US has finnaly decided to leave.There have been to much killing and alot are civilians.We are fighting a war to stop a government from killing civillians well we do so most of the time on accident but bad troops have exicuted civilians and have been charged.Also we call them terrorists what if they were in America you would fight for your country and be called liberators.The Taliban are freedom fighters and you can never win when you are wrong like the saying you can’t be wronge and stronge bring the troops home even though alot of them thanks to the policy of the last 10 years are probably mentally unstable like we’ve seen in the exicutions and in the prisons what type of human gets their kicks ot of torturing.Do whats right and follow the constitution you swore to upholed.

Aseel
March 27, 2011 at 00:39

There is a very simple reason why no one will ever win an unjust war in Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan. In Afghanistan & Tribal Pakistan (same people with deep cultural & family ties) their culture requires revenge of any deaths afflicted upon its people, if you kill someone it becomes an obligation upon that persons family to avenge that death. If the immediate family can not do it than it becomes an obligation upon the extended family and if the extended family can not it becomes an obligation upon the whole village/community. If the village/community can not than the task is carried out by the tribe so and so forth.
So you see when you go around killing, raping and destroying the lives of these people all you are doing is creating more and more P’ed off people who will not give up until they have got there own back and with interest. If the stupid Americans had done some simple research they would have realised that these proud people could never be beat regardless of how many troops and modern weapons you put in the arena.

Bruce Richardson
March 26, 2011 at 22:13

During the summer of 2001, at a conference on Afghanistan in Berlin several months prior to 9/11, U.S. officials told Pakistan’s Secretary Niaz Naik that “we will attack Afghanistan before the snow flies in October.” In addition, the Taliban made numerous concessions to the U.S. to be rid of Osama bin Laden, they were uncerimoniously rebuffed. During the troubled negotiations between Taliban and UNOCAL to build a pipeline between Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan to the Pakistan Port of Gwadar, the Taliban expressed interest in dividing the contract between UNOCAL/ENRON/HALIBURTON consortium and Bridas of Argentina. The U.S. would have none of it and issued a warning to Sayed Hashemi, Taliban emissary then in Washington, “you either accept our carpet of gold or we will bury you in a carpet of bombs.”The threat was issued during the summer of 2001.
More recently, it has been rumored that Osama bin Laden died during December of 2010. As far as al-Qaeda running a terrorist base from Afghan soil Mullah Omar has spoken out agaiunst this as have a myriad of other influential Afghans. In Mullah Zaeef’s new book “My Life With the Taliban”, Zaeef was Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, he says that relations between Taliban and al-Qaeda were “not good, strained and chilly.”
So, in summation what do we have? A war for pipeline rights and military basing priveledges in order to deny our competition for Caspian energy a piece of the action.

Mike
March 26, 2011 at 14:17

There was never a chance that the Taliban could be defeated, since they are indigenous and grass roots, as described by the previous poster. Most are not even Taliban. This is a western label to demonise. Some are violent morons, like the invaders, which is what happens when you have decades of war. Some are religious extremists, but the Taliban generally restrict these types, which were used by the US to destabilise the previous socialist government.

It is worse for women at present while the US backed warlords hold sway. Taliban provided them with security at least, while imposing their country bumpkin values, which are prevalent in rural areas, but not accepted by city folk.

No state apparatus would have enough tax funds to govern anything anywhere in Afghanistan. The same applies in Somalia.

masmanz
March 26, 2011 at 13:37

It is way past the time. A war that was a mistake to begin with, and should have ended in 2003 anyway. Why are we still there? We messed up Afghanistan, and the tribal area of Pakistan. Bring the troops back. Better late than never.

yang zi
March 25, 2011 at 14:03

the Taliban life style will comeback in Afghanistan, the secular institution is not strong enough to fight its influence. Afghanistan war is a waste, nothing is accomplished, Bin Laden is still there. next generation of terrorist will show up.

the whole generation of US occupation is needed to transform the country. leaving now is a mistake.

Afghan Warrior
March 24, 2011 at 17:43

Dear Mrs Clinton: U make unbelievably ignorant n false statements regarding the national resistance of Afghanistan. I know, it sounds unpleasant, but that’s who they’ve become the last 5 years. U accuse these guys of barbaric acts, which they do carry out sometimes, but where were u when the communist warlords, whom u support in the gov, were cutting off women’s breasts, hammering nails into civilians’ heads based on ethnic n religious hate, raping 1,000 women in Kabul, looting/burning/rocketing the entire capital city, n massacaring 60,000 civilians between 1992-1996 when u were a First Lady??? Those guys r your dear angels now. U make it seem like just cuz u don’t tell people about the crimes your sweethearts committed, first as Soviet-backed communist military/paramilitary, n then as factional leaders, that ordinary Afghans forgot about these people. Well I promise u, these people r not forgotten or forgiven by the Afghan nation. U still don’t get y a Southern militia of a few thousand teenage students have grown to a national movement of many thousands from all ages n walks of life. Mrs Clinton, tell us y did your husband refuse to take Bin Laden when he was first offered to him by Sudan, n then the Taliban of Afghanistan??? U c, the reason y this war gets hotter n wider is cuz u r not telling the truth to your people. F u think Afghans r going to forgive – let alone allow to rule – those who helped the Soviets murder 2Million Afghans, u r smoking crack. I dare u to tell Jews to forgive Nazis. You’d b run out of the country forever. The fact that anyone refusing to bow down to communist murderers/rapists is called a Taliban is a shame cuz the overwhelming majority of the resistance has absolutely nothing to do with the original Taliban militia. Please tell the truth n pull your troops out. Let nature take it’s course cuz those communist dogs will b hunted down n killed the way they killed so many. Please stop talking about Al Qaeda. There’s no such thing in Afghanistan. U can find those animals hiding in the armpits of Saudi Wahhabi Sheikhs. U can thank your gas guzzling thirst for keeping those rats on life support. Afghanistan has never n will never b a threat to any Western country for as long as the world turns so please stop making up these boogymen to terrorize n brainwash your people. Afghanistan n the USA has more in common in areas like freedom, free enterprise, n imaginative youth than anyone can imagine, but those areas cannot b explored so long as ignoramouses like u has any say.

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