The USA has only one choice to win the war in Afghanistan

Although Afghanistan has long remained on the US agenda, it has been in the limelight much more in recent months largely due to the fact that the US seeks to find a new strategy in the longest war the country has ever been in, a war, which has now lasted 16 years. Another reason is that the Taliban, which is frequently mentioned along with Afghanistan, has carried out the bloodiest attacks in its history and gained control of more than half the country.

It should be admitted that the war in Afghanistan has reached a critical phase, especially since the onset of the spring assault, dubbed “Operation Mansuri” by the Taliban. In the last two months, scores of people, largely civilians, were either killed or badly wounded in truck bomb attacks carried out at the capital city of Kabul and other towns. More than 150 soldiers lost their lives in an attack at a military headquarters in North Afghanistan. The Afghan security forces have sustained heavier casualties during this bloody period.

In fact, pretty much everybody agrees on the fact that the US (and the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, led by NATO) has failed in Afghanistan. If “victory” is defined as saving the country from the Taliban, wiping out terrorists, maintaining peace, and building a new nation, the US is losing the war by any metric. This fact has been attested to by top-ranking American authorities as well. The US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in his speech in the Senate, admitted: “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now.” General John Nicholson, Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, has stated that the war with the Taliban “is a stalemate.”

The new roadmap that is supposedly going to fix the failure is expected to be proposed in July. However, according to statements made by President Donald Trump’s staff, the new policies are not much different from their predecessors: Sending a couple thousand more troops to Afghanistan, grating broader authorities to forces in the field, making stronger military interventions, etc. Taking actions singlehandedly by excluding Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran, and imposing solutions in the region could be other examples of such precautions.

If the new US administration believes that this will bring victory and peace, they could not be more wrong. Without a doubt, three or five thousand more troops that will be sent as reinforcements to the 14,000 strong NATO force already deployed in the region will not be able to achieve what the over one hundred thousand troops that had been deployed by the Obama administration could not. Increasing the number of troops, albeit at a high cost, may bring a superficial, short-term and unsustainable victory; however, it will also embolden the Taliban to recruit new militants more easily and toughen up its resistance. Increased use of military force may lead to such negative results as seen many times in the history. For example, the “mother of all bombs” that was used for the first time in April at Afghanistan simply infuriated the terrorist organization and failed to intimidate them, as was the general idea. It is clear that being the largest military force in the world does not yield the expected results.

“Afghanistan, for Americans, doesn’t really exist as a country and a people,” writes William Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Air Force, criticizing the USA’s erroneous approach. “It exists only as a wasteful, winless, and endless war... It’s a job as well as a personal proving ground for U.S. troops. It’s a chance to test theories and to earn points (and decorations) for promotion for many officers. It’s hardly ever about working closely with the Afghan people to find solutions that will work for them over the long haul.”

Military strategies are doomed to failure since the Taliban militants vehemently cling to a radical ideology and erroneous beliefs. Their ideology is filled with superstitions, false commandments and bigoted beliefs that have absolutely no place in Islam. Terrorist organizations carry out their bloody attacks for the sake of this ideology that they have mistaken for religion. What renders them dangerous is not their weapons, but the radical ideology they adhere to. Therefore, terrorist organizations can be defeated not by retaliating to their violence with violence, but only by responding to the false belief they hold with the right one.

An extensive education policy that would reach out to all the ethnic groups in Afghanistan can succeed in a short time with the support of the US. There is no need for weapons, bombs, military headquarters and billions of dollars to achieve this. It is easy to design an intensive education program with well-informed and rational Muslims. This method is the only choice for the US. The swamps that spawn radical militants can only be drained in this way.

Such an educational strategy is new, unique, and has not been adopted by the US before. We hope that President Trump pays heed to our calls as he determines their new strategy in Afghanistan; by doing so, he will be taking take an unprecedented step towards wiping out radical terrorism, one of his electoral promises. Hopefully, he will take rational actions without giving in to the pressures he faces and he becomes the pioneer in establishing the peace, stability and welfare that the Afghan people have long been yearning for.

Adnan Oktar's piece in Al Bilad

2017-08-14 02:16:59

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