Monday, October 15, 2012

Will Americans stay in Afghanistan?

Where time is against America

by Ioncube Khanz

(Readers are encouraged to give opinions via comments)

During the recent rapid voyage to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, United States President Barack Obama signed with his local counterpart, Hamid Karzai, a strategic partnership agreement that will govern the relationship between Washington and Kabul after the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

A simple explanation

According to the document the U.S. are committed to support the social and economic development of Afghanistan, as well as security in the country until 2024, for which there exists 20,000 U.S. troops overseas. They will be engaged in training of Afghan security forces and take part in operations against the militants, 'al-Qaeda' and 'Taliban'

Americans refuse not only on permanent military bases in Afghanistan, but now stop sudden raids on villages. In exchange, the Kabul regime is committed to providing the opportunity to use the U.S. military facilities in the country. The contract states: The United States recognizes the Afghan National Army (ANA) its main ally in the world among countries that are not members of NATO.

It is only natural that this treaty many in Russia espied disclosure 'of the true intentions of Washington,' which is sure to maintain its military presence in the 'heart of Asia', where it will carry a deadly threat to the Russian Federation, China, Iran and all progressive mankind. Unfortunately, anti-American paranoia, mixed with total incompetence, adopted in Russia is simply dangerous. Ascribing Washington literally fiendish and similar supernatural abilities seriously affects politicians of the Russian Federation and on the overall mental health of Russians.

Meanwhile, the Kabul agreement has much more simple explanation: The U.S. and its allies have lost the war in Afghanistan. But they don’t want an absolute defeat, nor the situation that Afghanistan suffered back in 2001, that necessitated American campaign. By the way, if you remember the relatively recent past, have to admit: the very situation was perpetrated by the United States, but talking about it now makes no special sense.

Accordingly, Americans hope at least some control over the situation in Afghanistan (and probably in the surrounding countries) through well-established ‘Spetsnaz-unmanned' operations. To fight the guerrillas its best to adopt equally better guerrilla methods, as military experts have long known. However, the modern technological delights (drones, satellite navigation, night vision devices, etc.) can significantly increase the effectiveness of counterinsurgency.

Apparently, Washington is hoping to overcome a ‘failure tendency’, when the regime of a developing country after the withdrawal of foreign 'patron' is going to crumble under the pressure of local opposition in about two years (as, for example, the Americans abandoned South Vietnam or the same Afghanistan which was deprived assistance from Moscow). Moreover the dislocation of at least small groups of U.S. special forces in Afghanistan should be of no less importance in psychological terms than in the military terms: let the Afghan government and security forces maintain a sense that they are not abandoned to their fate, and have someone to rely on in case of a sharp deterioration.

However, the latter may prove to be an illusion. Special Forces units are able to smash the small militant groups, and drones - to destroy leaders and the Taliban. But neither Special Forces, nor drones be able to hold against a large-scale offensives, especially if Pakistan stands on their back (and it almost certainly will support the massive onslaught of 'Taliban', as it is important geopolitical tool for Islamabad). Opposition if prove successful, Americans will have to flee. Naturally, the smaller, more compact and more mobile will be their strength, the easier the U.S. personnel will be evacuated. Apparently, this was the most important consideration (except, of course, the financial aspects) at the U.S. refusal to have permanent bases in Afghanistan.

An extremely difficult task

In Russia, the downright meaning given to the sacred concept of 'military base' is as if it is a special option in the computer game, the knowledge of which allows the player immediate automatic win. Yet nothing in the present case is automatically provided, on the contrary, the probability of a huge problem is more visible.

The value of a foreign military base is determined by how it allows you to deploy active hostilities in the event of armed conflict. While it primarily depends on whether its supply of consumables (ammunition, fuel, food, medicine, spare parts) is assured. For example, the Russian base in Abkhazia and South Ossetia significantly reinforce the forces of Russian Federation, fighting against Georgia, as they advanced deep into Georgian territory, with delivery of all necessary goods from Russia safely and reliably ensured.

But our group in Transnistria create for Moscow nothing but problems: if suddenly armed conflict breaks out between Russia and NATO, supplies are not ensured (Ukraine can block it) and it will be lost immediately and completely.

By the way even if someone in Brussels or Washington planned aggression against Russia using NATO base in Ulyanovsk, the fact, that this base is far from the border with any of the NATO countries and close to Moscow itself: NATO will not only lose a hundred percent effort and funds on Lenin's homeland, but also suffer a huge loss in aviation, trying to throw the 'air bridge' to advance the doomed base.

A similar situation would be for the United States in Afghanistan, if they are there permanent bases. In this country, remember, there is no access to the sea and in dealing with issues of supply, the Americans are dependent on the surrounding  states of Iran (at least before the invention of teleportation, which is not expected for a while) Russia, China, the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, Pakistan and Iran should give the land line and or open their airspace for cargo transits. However, Tehran – fierce foe of Washington will take great pleasure in blackmailing the United States, beating out the most advantageous terms for American troops.

The problem is doubly difficult by the fact that Afghanistan is in the East, and the United States - in the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, Pakistan may well be the second Iran, only worse, because Islamabad already have nuclear weapons, and enough quality means of delivery. As mentioned above, if the Taliban will move to Kabul, they obviously support Pakistan (it is possible that the offensive will include part of the Pakistani army). Naturally, Islamabad and Washington will prove to be in the state of direct military confrontation. Then the supply of U.S. bases will depend entirely on the Central Asian countries, as well as (at least indirectly) from Russia and China, which have a great influence on the authorities of these countries. Beijing has recently confirmed as the main geopolitical ally and protector of Islamabad, also has a very serious view of the natural resources of Afghanistan. Accordingly Chinese will do everything to create a maximum of Americans problems. Moscow's position in this situation is hard to predict, but it is clear that the total dependence on Russia in such a critical situation for Washington is unacceptable.

Because of the circumstances described its an absurd fear that Americans will form bases in Afghanistan to strike on Russia and China. More precisely, these objects can be used against Russia, if the consent of Beijing and Islamabad is guaranteed. Or against China and Pakistan, if such an operation would get Moscow approval. No middle ground. In theory, none of these options is possible, but their practical embodiment represented in the foreseeable future is difficult. Even attack on Iran from Afghanistan will be extremely difficult.

Thus, for reasons of geography full military bases in Afghanistan would be for the United States useless and costly. That's why Washington refused to take steps in this direction.

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Rearguard action

Left in Afghanistan special forces and drones will probably have been incorporated into the army and the security forces of the Kabul regime. Americans will be engaged in the most challenging combat missions and serve as trainers for the Afghan Trust, as well as, of course, as overseer. Even desertion from the ANA and police is massive. If foreign troops leave, they can just 'evaporate' or break into tribal formation. Moreover, such a development is likely even without substantial pressure from the Taliban, and if they deployed a massive attack, the collapse of the power structures of the Karzai government is almost guaranteed. The presence of U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan's divisions will play a significant catalyst for improving their sustainability in action.

However, as stated above, this is effective only up to a certain limit. Of course, the U.S. presence will increase the combat capability of the Afghan units. But, if the onslaught of enemy forces in conjunction with religious and nationalistic propaganda is powerful for each American soldier there is a very real prospect to get a bullet in the back. However, a good level of U.S. Special Forces will help reduce losses but not winning the war.

Thus, to avoid a complete and final collapse in Afghanistan, the United States can only reconcile with the 'Taliban' and Islamabad, which would lead to the isolation of the remnants of 'al-Qaeda' (which is how it was done in Iraq). Taliban and their Pakistani backers perfectly understand that time is against the Americans, so you just have to wait for the basic care of the enemy forces. Compromise in the form of admission to certain power structures they're not going to give, because they want whole power. It is extremely difficult to assume that the remaining two years of the U.S. military contingents with their allies will inflict on 'Taliban' so heavy defeat that they would agree to concessions. For 12 years of the anti-Taliban coalition such heavy damage is not achieved, how coalition is going to achieve such in just two? Especially when the Europeans quite frankly are trying to 'exit', losing the remains and the extremely small desire to fight.

Creating the Afghan armed forces capable of effectively handling Taliban may be achievable, but confronting Pakistan is entirely impossible. An attempt to solve this problem will require Washington to huge material costs without any guarantee of success. The gap in military aircraft capabilities between Kabul and Islamabad, and levels of military and moral-psychological training of soldiers is too large, so you can’t catch up even with the U.S. help. The more so for Pakistan is China, which is to assist its ally in any possible way, as Chinese and U.S. interests is at clash in Afghanistan.

In general, after the withdrawal of the Western coalition Islamabad and Beijing will decide the fate of Afghanistan, it is absolutely unavoidable. It is not excluded that in Washington hopes to deter external expansion through even the symbolic presence of American troops in Afghanistan. For a while this factor probably will act, but not for long. First, the Taliban appear themselves as internal Afghan force, which disguises the fact of external interference. In the second place, Islamabad and Beijing will understand (or they have already understood) that for the Western countries the withdrawal does not imply return. At least, until now there are no precedents. Especially taking into account problems of supply described above.

Completely withdrawing from Iraq, the Americans didn’t return. And if after two years they will retain a 'limited contingent' in Afghanistan,  it will never become the nucleus of new group. The issue will only be when and how it will leave the ANA. The era of American hegemony is over, now the United States is waging a rearguard action. Simple yet very few have realized this fact. But gradually, the realization will come to all. And will begin the fight for “American inheritance”, in which a lot of unexpected and extremely unpleasant (including Russia) plots.


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