Where would they build the walls? [...] the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, which has provided hideouts against foreign invaders for thousands of years, is considerably more difficult for U.S. tanks and APCs to conquer than were the plains of Iraq.
feature | afghanistan Dr. Najibullah Lafraie A Surge of Support in Afghanistan But Can it Work? 21 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 18 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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