A Surge of Support in Afghanistan by ProQuest

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									                                                                                                                                                         feature | afghanistan
Dr. Najibullah Lafraie



A Surge of
Support in
Afghanistan
But Can it Work?


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                                                                                              Surging ahead. Photo: Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones/U.S.M.C.




R
          ETURNING from a trip to                roughly 660,000. While Canada is                   failure to capture the Taliban and Al-




                                                                                                                                                         journal of international peace operations | volume 5 | number 2 | september-october 2009
          Afghanistan in early September         determined to withdraw from Afghanistan            Qaeda leaders in combination with their
          2006, General James Jones, the         in 2011 and the European countries                 prolonged stay, have given rise to
then top NATO commander and the                  debate their levels of commitment, is it           conspiracy theories about their ‘nefarious’
current U.S. National Security Advisor,          realistic to think the international               intentions. In the Afghan press, one
called for a ‘modest reinforcement’ of the       community could muster half, or even               frequently comes across the question:
NATO troops in the country and                   one third, of that number?                         “how is it possible for Bin Laden and
predicted that an additional 2,500 soldiers                                                         Mullah Omar to evade the U.S. forces and
would turn the tide against the resurgent        Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is            their state-of-the-art technology and
Taliban. At that time the number of              already substantial in many Western                military equipment?” The implication is
foreign troops (under the command of             countries. Increasing the number of                that these terrorists were allowed to go
International Security Assistance Force          troops will certainly contribute to an             free in order to justify the U.S. presence
and Operation Enduring Freedom) was              increase in this sentiment, making the             in the region.
around 30,000. Today that number has             very presence of Western troops less
reached 100,000, but the demand for              sustainable. When the United States and            General McChrystal’s strict order to his
more troops persists – some calling for as       its allies started deploying more soldiers to      troops to avoid civilian casualties is
many as 45,000 more. Would this really           Afghanistan in July 2009, the number of            commendable. But even if he succeeds in
help to bring security and stability to          casualties more than doubled, both                 this task – and that is a big ‘if’ – it will
Afghanistan and subsequently provide an          compared to the previous month as well             remove only one element of resentment.
‘exit strategy’ for the United States and its    as to July of last year. Would the staunch         More important is Afghans’ collective
NATO allies? In addition to the experi-          supporters of the war – such as British            memory. Afghanistan has been subjected
ence of the past eight years, there are          Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French                to foreign invasion throughout its long
several other reasons why the surge              President Nicolas Sarkozy, or even U.S.            history. The Russian invasion is not even
strategy may not work in Afghanistan.            President Barack Obama – remain                    a generation old and remains fresh in
                                                 unwavering if the level of casualties              Afghan minds. The British invasion may
First, if the aim is to defeat the Taliban       becomes an election issue?                         be more than 100 years in the past, but is
insurgency, adding even 50,000 more                                                                 certainly not forgotten. With such a
soldiers will fall short of what is needed,      Increasing the number of Western troops            collective memory, it is easy for people to
according to counterinsurgency experts.          will also increase Afghans’ resentment             see even a benign intervention as gross
One estimate, based on the U.S. Army             toward the coalition forces. The Afghans           aggression, and the U.S. intervention has
and Marine Corps counterinsurgency               expected the Americans and their allies to         been far from benign. This is why the
manual, puts the number of troops                leave soon after rescuing the country              mere sight of Western soldiers – with or
necessary to win against the Taliban at          from the Taliban’s oppressive rule. Their
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    The author is a lecturer at the University of Otago, New Zealand and served as Afghanistan Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1992 to 1996.
feature | afghanistan
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The United States and its allies admit the
                                                                                                                                                    
								
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