AS WE STAND AT THE BRINK OF A MAJOR TROOP SURGE in Afghanistan, it's worth noting that in every ISAF/NATO country, there is now a majority who either oppose sending more troops, or oppose involvement there entirely. And, no wonder, US and ISAF troops have been killing and dying for nine years in Afghanistan. And all there is to show for it is a corrupt, brutal and incompetent government, a resurgent Taliban insurgency that has the US Army retreating to the cities, and a blossoming of the global opium trade.
Here in Canada, only 45 percent support the mission, down from nearly 60 percent three years ago. In the United States, support for the mission has dropped from 61 percent in 2008 to just 50 percent today, with a majority opposing sending more troops. In Britain some 64 percent believe that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and 52 percent supported the view that "the levels of corruption involved in the recent presidential election show the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting for." In the United States poll, it was found that 61 percent believe the war is going badly.
In other NATO countries, support has also fallen dramatically, which is no doubt why none of those countries are likely to follow the US and the UK in sending more troops. Canada, of course, is already preparing to get the hell out. In Poland, a relatively new member of NATO, which joined with great enthusiasm, 76 percent oppose Polish troops being there and 77 percent want the operation wrapped up immediately.
Within Afghanistan things are unlikely to turn around. An opinion piece in the Pakistan Observer by Air Marshall Ayaz A. Khan (Ret.) paints a very bleak picture, assessing the timeline to create a stable national army and police force at 20 years. Meanwhile the police are poorly trained, hated by the "common Afghans" for their corruption, and no match for the Taliban:
"Raw recruits are dispatched to outposts, where they become sitting ducks for the ferocious and experienced Taliban guerrilla fighters. One thousand Afghan policemen were killed in 2008 and another one thousand during 2009. Twice that number of policemen were injured and kidnapped. Thus policemen are demoralized, and many are synmpathetic to the Taliban. Afghan policemen have killed US and British soldiers, and then defected."
The retired Air Marshall concludes that:
"America and NATO are trapped in the Afghan quicksand... The United States and the West owes an apology to the people of Afghanistan for the sufferings, destruction and damage inflicted on them."
Meanwhile, in a story on Sunday, the Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief, Syed Saleem Shahzad, claims that a deal has been struck between the US and Pakistan. According to Shahzad, Pakistan's military demanded that Hamid Karzai's only potential challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, pull out of the the second round and play no significant future role in the Afghan government. Something that has now occurred. In return, the Pakistani army would mediate with the Afghan Taliban.
"In exchange for the pullout of the non-Pashtun Abdullah, Pakistan's military has agreed to actively mediate between Washington and the Taliban over a reconciliation plan that will allow the US to exit from Afghanistan, as it is doing in Iraq, with a semblance of success."
Apparently the deal was struck during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit, with Pakistan demanding the removal of Abdullah because he was too "pro-India." Shahzad is a widely read and respected journalist throughout South Asia and the Middle East. If what he says is true, this would be a massive admission from the US that they cannot win - already their retreat to the cities is an admission of their failure in 70 percent of Afghanistan - and are seeking to find a solution that allows them to find "peace with honour." However, the last time that was attempted in a counter-insurgency operation by the US - in Vietnam - it ended rather badly. Meanwhile, the killing and dying continues without pause.