Responding to a question on how can America’s short term mentality be changed, says Brzezinski. Yes, if we develop a more effective and longer-range response to the current crisis instead of simply wallowing in the present difficulties. But we are so preoccupied with the current crisis and so lacking in a longer-term perspective that we have no strategic vision. The democracies that thrive with financial systems that are out of control and generate selfishly beneficial consequences only for the few, without any effective framework, that is the real problem”. Image: Zbigniew Brzezinski at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington.
THE FAILED US FOREIGN POLICY IN THE AFPAK REGION
by Eugene Khrushchev
Washington’s policy of “managed chaos” has backfired in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
VT Editor, Col. Eugene Khrushchev says the US excelled at chaos building but has yet to succeed at managing it.
The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.
El sueño de la razon produce monstruos.
…Francisco José de Goya
Afghanistan is in dire straits due to the United Kingdom’s ‘divide & rule’ colonial legacy and an unholy alliance with the United States circa Charlie Wilson’s endless War, which mutated from carefully inflamed anti-Soviet insurgency into anti-American jihad.
The most notorious hallmark of British Great Game machinations and resultant invasions is the Durand Line, which arbitrarily sliced through Pushtunistan, planting an irredentist time bomb between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
While artificial demarcation has neither been addressed nor defused, it has continually undermined Afghan-Pakistani and American-Pakistani security cooperation via cross-border sorties and gunfire on both sides of the Durand Line.
The catastrophic success of the proxy war, led by the CIA from Pakistan, denied the USSR its strategic intent to modernize Afghanistan on par with Soviet Central Asian republics and to forestall violent extremism on its southern flank.
The Cost is Never Equally Shared
However, this Pyrrhic victory quickly unraveled with Afghanistan sinking into anarchy and civil war, culminating in the full-fledged blowback which rocked the United States on 9/11.
Since its inception, the US overt invasion in Afghanistan, codenamed Operation Enduring Freedom, has been plagued by a profound misunderstanding of the root cause of the problem and, consequently, a decade-long wild goose chase for an elusive victory with no end in sight. Thus, the vicious circle of mission creep has inexorably set in.
A meaningful, long-term, cohesive and comprehensive US strategy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan has been a non-starter from day one.
Having been defenestrated by the Manichean paranoia and messianic crusade of the previous administration’s neo-con cowboys, further attempts at resuscitation have been thwarted by internal bickering within the White House Afghan Team and perennial inter-agency turf battles.
A crystal-clear strategy has been hijacked by a smorgasbord of fuzzy tactical adjustments that have been hyped, tried and failed in an orderly fashion.
It began with counter terrorism’s ‘small foot print’, then to the fancy ‘ink-blot’ security spread, followed by the COIN-lite ‘condition, clear, hold & build’ population-centric doctrine, which was abruptly superseded by the bizarre ‘fight, talk, build’ triple chase.
In Afghanistan, Washington ignored Bert Lance’s quip, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, echoed by Colin Powell’s maxim ‘you break it, you own it’.
WILL ENDURING FREEDOM BE OUR ENDURING TAR BABY
As a result, America is wrestling with a Hindu Kush tar baby– the longest and one of the most expensive US military occupations in history.
Thanks to US foreign policy wonks’ strategically blind flight of mind, Afghanistan has degenerated into the epicenter of the Global Drug War against humanity.
Over the last 10 years, it has wiped out 1 million people abroad, while Al-Qaeda Central in Pakistan has successfully metastasized in the Arab Peninsula as well as the Maghreb.
The only way to save the day and avoid a disgraceful dénouement for the USA is to jettison ‘feel-good’ political correctness and the conventional ‘more of the same’ mentality.
As an opener, the question should be not ‘what can America do for Afghanistan?’ but ‘who could extricate America from Afghanistan? with a follow-up poser: ‘how to rescue the future of Afghanistan from its past and present demons of destruction?
Historically speaking, Afghanistan has never been a top priority for the US in the grand scheme of things. Initially the country was relegated to the bottom of the State Department’s pecking order with ‘benign neglect’ as a cheesy substitute for a vigorous foreign policy – for better or worse.
As the Soviet Union kept expanding its bilateral relations with Afghanistan, the US Embassy in Kabul was ordered to wake up and train a spyglass on the growing economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
Without much hoopla, a dormant diplomatic mission was reactivated as an intel shop, the first CIA footprint in Afghanistan, to be expanded later into a narco-terrorism R&D field lab.
When the USSR embarked on a full-scale central planning infrastructure build-up in Afghanistan, the United States, however reluctantly, reacted in kind – sort of – as a CIA low-key eavesdropping mission was beefed up with USAID window-dressing.
All in all, in the Afghan economic stand-off between the USSR and the USA, the Soviet Union won hands down, having strictly adhered to a long-term ‘win-win’ strategy vis-à-vis its neighbor, while the United States was dabbling in a haphazard catch-up game against its Cold War sworn foe on the opposite side of the globe.
TENDENCY TOWARDS DEPENDENCY
During this unprecedented period of tranquility and development, it seemed like the countervailing pressures of socialist vs. capitalist competition allowed Afghanistan to enjoy the best of both worlds. As one US diplomat quipped at the time,
‘Kabul prefers to strike American cigarettes with Soviet matches’.
From then on, the country’s successive rulers, having being spoiled by the superpowers’ economic competition, devolved into freebie junkies hooked on foreign investment and aid – to the detriment of national sovereignty, self-determination, as well as social and economic development.
After the victory of the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan (the Afghan Spring) and the Islamic Revolution in Iran (the Persian Spring), within a year the US had lost two adjacent springboards in its ‘sphere of interests’ to project its military power and directly threaten the southern borders of the USSR.
Suddenly, gripped by a siege mentality and Cold War paranoia, the United States jettisoned all false pretenses to ‘aid’ Afghanistan.
Having failed to demonstrate and explore the advantages of capitalism vs. socialism, the US bells and whistles policy in Afghanistan went down the drain and the White House went ballistic.
TARGET OF OPPORTUNITY
As the State Department and USAID were consigned to the backseat, the CIA and USIA took the steering wheel to drive home a newly unfolding mission: to arrest an alleged Soviet thrust towards the Indian Ocean.
In a rare consensus between the Pickle and Fudge Factories of US intelligence and foreign services, Afghanistan was quickly identified as the most vulnerable high-value target to hit the Soviet Union where it hurts.
WILSON’S WAR1: ANTI-SOVIET JIHAD
Congressman Charlie Wilson Moonlighting in Afghanistan
An Executive Order – signed by the US president and endorsed by the US Congress – set in motion the largest crusade against the USSR since the WW2.
The immediate goal was, under the cover of plausible deniability, to create a proxy force in Pakistan to destabilize and conflagrate Afghanistan; with the follow-up to provoke the Soviet Union to come to the rescue, and the ultimate goal to entrap the USSR in a bleeding war of attrition.
The US Information Agency, in order to create a United Front against the Soviet Union, overtly orchestrated a global propaganda and disinformation campaign, whipping up media frenzy over the Kremlin’s allegedly nefarious foreign policy.
In perfect unison with the USIA, the CIA covertly conducted psychological operations in Afghanistan to foment anti-Soviet sentiments and promote radical Islamization in Pakistan to harbor, finance and train wannabe Afghan jihadists.
Did Afghanistan End Up a Cold War Football?
DAMNED IF YOU DO AND DAMNED IF YOU DON’T
The Soviet gerontocracy was suddenly struck with a stark dilemma in Afghanistan: to abandon a long-time, though fragile, friend under mounting internal and external pressures, or to succor its next-door neighbor by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the USSR was an all-weather ally and true-blue partner.
At a time when the United States couldn’t have cared less, the Soviet Union was the first foreign power to recognize Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty, thus establishing amicable diplomatic and trade relations – without any hidden agenda of ‘vital interests’ directed against other states in the region.
While multiple adventures in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world were ideologically motivated by the Cold War stand-off, Soviet foreign policy in Afghanistan was an exception rather than the rule.
Since its inception, it was based on a steady strategy of social and economic development through accelerated industrialization and universal education, what in current terminology would be properly described as an open-ended commitment to nation-building.
There was another important factor which came to the fore as a security risk: unlike faraway brotherly Cuba, Afghanistan was the nearest neighbor whose political stability and territorial integrity were exposed to irredentist claims by Pakistan, which had been recruited as the US’s ‘indispensable ally’ against the Soviet Union.
Contrary to USIA malicious innuendo, the USSR wasn’t itching for a casus belli to ‘invade and conquer Afghanistan, eradicate Islam and impose atheistic Communism’.
At the time, the Brezhnev Doctrine of peaceful coexistence and détente was anything but Trotsky’s idée fixe on permanent revolution. Rather, the Politburo had become a parody of its former self when compared with the bygone Comintern era, schlepping through its last years as an octogenarian club of status-quo apparatchiks.
Leonid Brezhnev speaks at 18th Komsomol Congress opening
The agonizing decision-making process in Moscow was focused not on a panzer blitzkrieg, but rather on an incremental remedial course to mitigate the Stalinesque excesses of the Kabul revolutionary leadership and to solidify and protect a successful Soviet legacy of comprehensive long-term development in Afghanistan.
And that’s exactly what the CIA was aiming for. However, what was supposed to be a Soviet quick-fix palace coup and stability and peacekeeping follow-up, ended up as an American-led ‘jihad’ in Afghanistan, conducted from Pakistan as asymmetrical guerrilla warfare by the pre-paid and trained proxy force.
Thus, the USSR took the bait and got trapped into a nine-year-plus war of, with the Soviet Armed Forces’ robust ability to address the insurgency’s root cause compromised by the Politburo’s skittish unwillingness to give the marching orders to cross the border and nip the Pakistani-based American Frankenstein in the bud.
OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND
Soviet Afghan Veterans Memorial
As soon as the 40th Army pulled out of Afghanistan on February 15 1989, the ‘mission accomplished’ jamboree was swiftly arranged at the CIA HQ to celebrate in anticipation of Wilson’s War victory in Kabul.
In a state of euphoria, the US intelligence community boasted that the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan would collapse within hours after the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Oops – it took a little more time, almost three years.
The newly discovered CIA core incompetence was further aggravated by the agency’s unavailing efforts to reconcile and unite the ragtag factions of its rented extremists, the predecessors of the Taliban, into the united political and military front against a recalcitrant ‘infidel’ government of Afghanistan.
The USIA open-air propaganda warfare against the USSR in Afghanistan was over, and the pliant mainstream media, as if by a wave of the magic wand, canceled in one day its decade-long PR campaign of rebranding firebrand assassins for hire as the ‘moral equivalent of America’s founding fathers’ and ‘freedom-fighters’.
Nevertheless, in violation of a UN-brokered agreement on Afghanistan, the United States continued its clandestine CIA/ISI joint operation to supply extremist bands with the wherewithal and weapons to dislodge the stand-alone DRA under the rule of Dr. Najibullah
When the jihadists had eventually taken over the country’s capital, the White House briefly indulged in self-adulation – only to pull the rug out from under Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Next: The Prepaid Expendables!
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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.
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