US: More troops end or worsen Afghan war
Indications are that Washington will announce a new strategy for Afghanistan by mid-July after several reviews of the situation on the ground both by military and political delegations.
The decision to send 4,000 additional troops is being viewed as the likely shape of the new strategy. Ratcheting up the military pressure on the newly emerged circles that are partial to violence and abhor compromise would be one side of the strategy.
Another view is that the new strategy would be "mere military" meaning that Washington would crush armed opponents and insurgents that are political tools of countries in the region and counter the influence of their supporters through military means.
However, both authorities in Kabul as well as experts believe that the "mere military" would not work, and could end up in defeat as in the past.
Most analysts as well as US allies are disenchanted with Washington's military policy for Afghanistan, and do not believe it can be effective. Most EU member countries also are against the strengthening of troops on the ground, and consider it would be like putting wood on the fire raging in Afghanistan.
UN Secretary General António Guterres who made an unannounced visit to Kabul on June 14 advanced the plea for talks as the way to solve the continuing war in the country. Mohammad Qarabagi, analyst and writer observes, "Statements from allies of the US, and also international organisations, show military tactics have not been fruitful – it is an old strategy that has not yielded clear results."
In Washington too there seems to be growing realisation with Defence Secretary James Mattis admitting the US has not succeeded in Afghanistan before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month. For a decade and a half, US presence in Afghanistan has not led to the strengthening of security; instead challenges have mounted with the emergence of more groups.
War and Peace
Afghan watchers have called for a US strategy for Afghanistan that is a mix of war and peace: war against those who will not compromise with the government and peace with those who accept the framework of political order.
Farida Taman, a civil society activist says, "There were elements in the cards being played by the US that were not honest in either peace-making or war. They used civilians as human shields and did not have a clear stand on peace. The US must make a distinction between those who back war and seek peace and each should be dealt with in the necessary manner."
The Afghan crisis also involves countries in the region and outside who openly or clandestinely support anti-government armed groups. Experts wish there was more pressure exerted on the main sources of terrorism.
Najibullah Azad, a deputy spokesperson to the president while welcoming the arrival of additional US troops said, "Sending more forces is the framework of the new US strategy and political leaders in the national unity government are also sure that their arrival would be effective in fighting against the armed opponents of the Afghan government."
He called on foreign policy strategists to turn on the pressure on Pakistan. The Afghan government has provided many documents and other evidence of the presence in Pakistan of those attacking civilians and security forces in Afghanistan.
Azad said the government was of the view that US-NATO strategy on Afghanistan has not been effective since it has not so far taken into consideration the Afghan viewpoint.
The Afghan government believes that the problem of terrorism in the country has roots outside the country. Dawlat Waziri, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, has been quoted saying terrorism has safe asylums out of the country and is financed there too.
He said the only solution to the Afghan crisis is that the "roots should be dried" – meaning that the nests of terrorism outside must be starved of support.
According to Waziri, only a US strategy that includes an increase in pressure on terrorists and their financial sources would be welcomed as a solution to the problem in Afghanistan.
There is another likely dimension to the new US strategy – an insistence on militarism which would result in a proxy war.
Fanning the war in Afghanistan would be an effort to widen US influence in its turf war against rivals like Russia and Iran. If that is the motive, Afghanistan will again become the battle-field of a proxy global war. The 1980s, Afghanistan was in the centre of a proxy war between the US and the then Soviet Union with the former arming Afghan mujahedin with deadly weapons and money through Pakistan.
Mohammad Qarabaghi recalls the Afghan policy of the previous US president, Barack Obama. While he kept his domestic pledge of pulling out the majority of US troops, the roughly 9,000 who remained trained Afghan security forces who took over combat responsibilities. He kept channels with the Taleban open – a Taleban political office was opened in Doha, Qatar, in 2013 – even as the US killed in drone attacks dozens of Taleban, including Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who succeeded Mullah Omar. "The new strategy will not put a full stop to the longest war the US is involved in," Qarabaghi fears.