British commander says war in Afghanistan cannot be won

Discussion in 'Afghanistan' started by Sunni Man, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Sunni Man
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    Sunni Man Diamond Member

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    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's commander in Afghanistan has said the war against the Taliban cannot be won, the Sunday Times reported.


    It quoted Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith as saying in an interview that if the Taliban were willing to talk, then that might be "precisely the sort of progress" needed to end the insurgency.

    "We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army," he said.

    He said his forces had "taken the sting out of the Taliban for 2008" but that troops may well leave Afghanistan with there still being a low level of insurgency.

    But Afghanistan's Defense Minister expressed his disappointment on Sunday at the commander's statements, maintaining the insurgency had to be defeated.

    "I think this is the personal opinion of that commander," Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters.

    "The main objective of the Afghan government and the whole international community is that we have to defeat this war of terror and be successful," he said.

    Wardak said success also depended on how British forces were approaching the problems they faced in Helmand but did not say whether their current strategy was the right one.

    Asked if the commander's comments came as a disappointment, Wardak said: "Yes, it is disappointing, for sure."

    Britain has around 8,000 troops based in Afghanistan, most of them in the volatile southern province of Helmand, where they face daily battles with a growing insurgency.

    NO NEGOTIATIONS WITH "INVADERS"

    NATO commanders and diplomats have been saying for some time that the Taliban insurgency cannot be defeated by military means alone and that negotiations with the militants will ultimately be needed to bring an end to the conflict.

    "If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that's precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this," Carleton-Smith said. "That shouldn't make people uncomfortable."

    But a spokesman for the Taliban said on Sunday there would be no negotiations with foreigners and repeated calls made by Taliban commanders for the unconditional withdrawal of the more than 70,000 international troops from Afghanistan.

    "They should know that Taliban will never hold talks with the invaders," Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told the Pakistan-based Afghan news agency, AIP.

    "What we had said in the past, we also say once again, that foreign forces should leave without any condition," he said.

    Violence in Afghanistan has increased to its worst level since 2001, when U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the ruling Taliban following the September 11 attacks on the United States.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai said last week he had asked the king of Saudi Arabia to mediate in talks with the insurgents and called on Taliban leader Mullah Omar to return to his homeland and to make peace.

    (Writing by Myra MacDonald; additional reporting by Jonathon Burch in Kabul; Editing by Valerie Lee)
     
  2. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    Go home imperialist dogs... you cannot win.

    signed

    Tokyo Rose
     
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  3. Gurdari
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    Gurdari Egaliterra

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    Hmm... diplomacy, huh?
    Sounds like very, very late common sense.
     
  4. tt0936a
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    tt0936a Rookie

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    The insurgency in Afghanistan cannot be won until we come up with an effective counterinsurgency strategy that takes into account the grievance based conflict occurring in the framework of fourth generation warfare (4GW). We need to start addressing the social networks and identity politics behind the insurgency. Despite the massive media confusion surrounding the war in Afghanistan, it is not a single monolithic war. The war in Afghanistan is being waged on many different fronts: international, regional and local. Internationally, there is a NATO ISAF mission fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan; regionally, President Karzai is competing with regional governors for political power, as he is sarcastically referred to as the ‘President of Kabul’ and is seen as corrupt and inefficient by many in the international and Afghani community; and locally, governors, especially in the south-west, are in competition with local insurgent groups that use social networking to create parallel shadow governments/economies to take away legitimacy from the official authorities. The problem of rebuilding a functioning government in Afghanistan is the most complicated on the local level. The Taliban insurgency cannot be defeated solely by military means, and enhanced civ-mil cooperation is vital if NATO is to ensure a lasting end to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Civilian cooperation in the form of diplomacy, foreign aid, NGOs, and most importantly – social outreach need to go hand in hand with effective military COIN strategy to combat this specific instance of insurgency.

    It is impossible to formulate an effective strategy without understanding the history of this country. Afghanistan is a country that is not ethnically homogenous, and does not fit the mold of western Westphalian states, but the active COIN strategy unfortunately has been slow to take this into account. In Iraq, the 2007 refocus on the tribal level seems to have quelled much of the violence, as the US begins plans for troop withdrawal. The current strategy mirrors Westphalian and Weberian states, focusing on democracy and rule of law, while disregarding the individual cultural and societal backdrops that influence the conflict. Afghanistan is not a western state, it never has been. There is no way that a tribal fractured state like Afghanistan can be molded in the image of a modern American/European democracy, because there has never been a conflict like this in the western world. After the Cold War, with the exception of the Balkans, most conflicts have taken place outside of the west, in fragile, decolonized and weak states. These states often are unstable, having inherited European-styled centralized national structures that did not compliment the local, decentralized population. The Europeans tried to make countries out of ethnically, linguistically and geographically diverse people – setting the scene for massive grievance conflicts. In Afghanistan, the conflict is mostly grievance based. There is no oil or precious resources in contention, no greed to control this vast territory, but instead the pride of a humiliated people. There is a wrong the Taliban feels needs to be set right. The history of humiliation from being conquered by various empires, the Soviet invasion, and most recently the American declaration of war has pushed many Afghans to demand more sovereignty and more independence, feeling wronged for the last time by the international community. While there is a greed-based aspect to the insurgency (the Taliban makes millions in illegal poppy trade every year and have extensive criminal networks to transport drugs and arms), the proceeds of the illicit activities go into undermining the Karzai government and the international forces.

    The idea behind 4GW is that sufficient political will can defeat a superior military force. The Taliban seems to have adopted a strategy drawn upon both Mao’s war of attrition and Che’s foco, while taking advantages of the revolutions in modern technology and mass communication. The Taliban are actively engaging in a PR campaign to the local population and fighting a war of attrition and movement to wear down the occupying forces, while adopting the foco’s ‘hit and run’ philosophy, believing they can win a war with guerilla movements, without shifting into conventional warfare. What makes this insurgency part of the 4GW model of warfare is their focus on identity and ideology. This war is a grievance based war - the insurgents want justice (in addition to territorial control and authority) – that takes advantage of social networks and coalitions. It is ideas, more than any other factor, which mobilizes people to channeling their grievances into insurgent actions. They use kinetic tactics such as ambushes, raids, and explosions to compliment the non-kinetic political and information campaigns. The structure of the Taliban is decentralized and fragmented, as an all channel network with no clear command and control, making it hard for troops to effectively counter these loosely organized cells. These cells are a part of a broader problem of social network and organization, because no longer is the state the center of gravity in the insurgency. This war is not about state actors, but the non-state actors that blend into local populations and have a base in the almost untouchable FATA on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

    The spread of insurgency via social networking is a new phenomenon that is posing a great challenge to the international community’s understanding of warfare. In order to combat this type of warfare effectively, there must be better analysis of the social networks that contribute to insurgency, and a better picture of how exactly these groups are connected, because their strength lies in their ability to mobilize grievances into actions. The government of Afghanistan must find an acceptable federal solution, as the federal-regional rift only emboldens the local actors to undermine the government, before they can focus on the local social network threats. These threats, while largely neglected because of their local character, need to be the main unit of analysis when calculating COIN strategy in Afghanistan. It is important that policy makers look at the explanations and theories behind 4GW and social networks as it applies to the Taliban and Afghanistan, because without an understanding of the causes of war, the policies produced will be ineffective and useless. The war in Afghanistan is winnable, but the strategies need to be tweaked to better fight the 4GW local and identity based warfare that is the Taliban insurgency.
     
  5. Skull Pilot
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    Skull Pilot Platinum Member

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    Let's see, the Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan (and they were right next door), The UK failed in Afghanistan and we have a president who is cutting the military budget while ramping up to......fail in Afghanistan.

    Seriously what do we expect to "win"?
     
  6. roomy
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    roomy The Natural

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    You can't defeat roadside bombs or suicide bombers.Our position is untenable, we need to bring them home.Our boys are dying for absolutely nothing as far as I can see, unless they are allowed to flatten the fucking place.At the moment they are tied to chasing the odd raggy arsed bastard through towns full of raggy arsed bastards to no avail.The government is selling it to us as "We are training the Afghanny police and military".Bulfuckingshit.
     
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  7. Skull Pilot
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    Skull Pilot Platinum Member

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    :clap2:

    This bullshit about securing human rights and ousting Taliban extremists has to end. it is none of our business.

    Those of you who will allow more of our brave young men and women to die in the futile attempt to capture Bin Laden or dismantle the Taliban or Al qaeda need a reality check.
     
  8. Neser Boha
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    Neser Boha upgrade your gray matter

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    I like especially this part... where is the thread bitching at Obama for willing to hold talks with the Taleban? This only proves that he is not pulling this strictly out of his ass being an unwise fool as many anti-Obamists have been trying to (very badly) argue.

    But I don't want to make it only about Obama, of course.

    I just think the whole black and white view of the world - with us or against us - no negotiating with terrorist kinda bull-crap is gonna have to end if we're to succeed. Simply that is my main point.
     
  9. Skull Pilot
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    Skull Pilot Platinum Member

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    We don't have to negotiate with the Taliban or Al qaeda. We can simply leave Afghanistan and never deal with them again.

    If we are truly and honestly concerned about preventing terrorism, we should concentrate on our borders, the defense of our citizens and our immigration policies and stop policing the world under the guise of promoting democracy and human rights. Do none of you see the contradiction of promoting a democracy at gunpoint?
     
  10. Neser Boha
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    Neser Boha upgrade your gray matter

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    I agree with roomy that it is a tough war to win. But I believe there are ways through which it can be won. What firstly needs to be done is that our focus returns back on Afghanistan where it SHOULD HAVE stayed at the first place. As much as I am against wars, interfering in other people's business, etc.... we've once committed ourselves to this and we can't just now simply withdraw. No way no how! That'd be so damn stupid. The Taleban - and Al Qaeda would have their 'victory' - whether just perceived or real - and that is the very last thing we want. We already played into their hands by invading Iraq, now we have to clean this shit up. And maybe it's not about 'winning', but rather concluding this mess in the most favorable way... maybe talking with those raggy arsed bastards is just the thing...
    :eusa_pray:
     

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