BY AEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
The latest as reported is two American soldiers shot and killed by a member of the Afghan National Army, the killings occurred as a result of a dispute during a joint operation between the Americans and their Afghan counterparts. Likewise, NATO suffered its own losses when two of its soldiers were shot and killed by a member of the Afghan army; the past months and weeks have seen many American soldiers being killed by a member of the Afghan police or army they helped train so, when is it time to end the campaign and bring the troops home?
Eleven years since the beginning of the war and a time when one should expect an end to attacks after global efforts to end the insurgency, mounted by the United States and ISAF; it seems Afghanistan will continue to be a safe haven for both the Taliban and remnants of Al-Qaeda remaining in the country. In a separate episode this past Monday, attackers killed 10 Afghan soldiers at a checkpoint in Helmand Province and based on reports by the NY Times of August 27, 2012, the Taliban, cut the throat of 17 civilians including two women, in a rural Taliban controlled district of Helmand.
This month alone, 12 coalition soldiers have been killed making it 42 the number of coalition forces killed by Afghan forces and military police. The nature of the killings and the perpetrators are a clear indication of how far the Taliban and its loyalists have infiltrated the Afghan National Army as well as the police; making one to question whether remaining in Afghanistan is in the best interests of the U.S. and ISAF, when the same people trusted with maintaining order in the war ridden nation, are now turning themselves against the coalition while they declare their loyalty and support for the Taliban.
It would be unfair to call Afghanistan a lost war; after all, over a decade since the campaign began, the U.S. has not seen a single attack on the homeland; the campaign has helped to put pressure on would be terrorists giving them no room to act by putting them on the run; it is responsible for the disruption within Al-Qaeda as an organization as virtually all its major actors and those in the position of leadership have been either killed by the American drone or captured. While there is no dispute as to the effectiveness of the American war in Afghanistan, the results have not been without the ultimate sacrifices made by American and coalition soldiers who have lost their lives and those that continue to die or are maimed in a war that seems to have no end.
Maybe it is fair to say the war so far, has been a win-win situation. When Al-Qaeda and its Afghan host the Taliban carried out the attacks of 9/11, Al-Qaeda working together with the Taliban had three goals it aimed to achieve: First, was to create fear through terror, second, to destroy Western economy and lastly, to galvanize support through recruit of both Arab and Western followers willing to carry out attacks on strategic targets in the West and the U.S.
To say both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have not achieved these goals would be an attempt to cover-up the truth and reality. Since 9/11, the entire world has changed; we no longer do business the way we used to, taking a flight from one location or country to another means extensive scrutiny and searches; the airports have added new security costing billions of dollars just to protect passengers and to ensure terrorist have no chance of attacking or downing a plane. Creating fear is among the goals of terror and to say it has not been achieved would be untrue.
The costs of war since 2001 is clear, billions of dollars and still counting; no doubt both Afghanistan and Iraq are major contributors to the deficit and economic dilemma the U.S. is dealing with today. Before the end of war in Iraq, the U.S. was spending $8 billion monthly just to finance the campaign and today, it is spending more than $8 billion monthly to maintain the war efforts in Afghanistan.
The Taliban continues to carry out attacks daily forcing the U.S. to sacrifice both human and financial resources, in order to establish peace and normalcy in the country; but so far, such is non-existence. It is the aim of terror, to destroy Western economy and to create economic catastrophe for the U.S. by prolonging the war and attacking Western targets. Based on the state of the world economy and especially the U.S. economy today, it is clear this goal of terror has been achieved.
Since the beginning of the war on terror, both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have been able to galvanize support; more people than ever have signed up to join terror groups and the ability of the Taliban to maintain its existence in Afghanistan, despite the presence of the U.S. and the coalition forces has made new recruits to believe the Taliban is still a strong organization.
The announcement by the U.S. and the Afghan government to resume negotiations with the group has allowed it to gain more support among those who strongly believe it is winning the war; recruits continue to pour in from Pakistan and other Arab nations and more and more American soldiers continue to die in the hands of Afghan police and army officers, who have decided to switch positions in support of the Taliban. It may be right to say the ability to generate support and recruit is yet another gain for the group and its supporters, making it difficult for the coalition to fight an effective war in the country.
Considering the current order of things in Afghanistan, it may be time for American soldiers to come home. The recent killings of U.S. soldiers by their Afghan counterparts, must not be allowed to continue for too long; enough of the body bags, it may be time to allow Afghanistan to choose its own destiny rather than have one imposed on it. It is clear the Taliban has penetrated the Afghan national army and the police, the group may have possessed intelligence that will not only put the Afghan establishment in danger, but also put more American lives on the line. It is time to call the Karzai government to task, negotiation with the Taliban has so far proven to be a failure, it may take the willingness and goodwill of Afghans themselves to resolve their issues once and for all; after all, the ongoing Arab crisis is a testimony of what ordinary citizens can achieve.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations; follow on Twitter @san0670.