Background of the Afghan War
US - Occupying or Liberating Power?
Strategy and the Road-ahead for reformation and reconstruction
Difficulties of Construction
US Military has accepted its Mistakes of the Past for corrections?
A post-War Transition Lesson
Post-War Germany and Military handover
Short term Goals vs. Sustainability
Issue of Governance Reform
Afghanistan postconflict reforms remain one of the tricky reforms the United States government has encountered since her role in external interventions. The war is also one of the longest wars the US troop has faced, perhaps it has proven more troublesome than the war of Vietnam and has given US headache that it would never be able to forget. It is acceptable that post-conflict reforms are always a challenge to any military of the world. And thus a great deal of analysis of history, geography, ethnicity and politics has to be taken to make sure that stated objectives are somewhat achieved, if not completely achieved. It is obvious that there is limit to the state building/reformation process but Afghanistan was beyond censure. In this regard, no sane person would ever argue that Afghanistan could be a modern democracy on the liens of Western mode as quickly as anticipated (Paris, 2013).
Building institution of a civilization that lags behind in the Middle Ages was never easy. More importantly, how could the foreign; occupying power can ever build the local institutions without ever becoming popular. Therefore, the first thing that the US should have asked itself is it popular in Afghan society or not? In other words, only popularity would have given US a leverage to undertake project of state building successfully. Furthermore, it may be argued that, US military has a clout with in Afghanistan’s society, as it’s been there for over 15 years. But one wonders, has it have any clout over ordinary people, and not over landlords/warlords?
It is paradoxical as to of a nation that beacons the world to embrace modern, democratic and humanistic values and values of human dignity. Yet, it became amicable to local war lords to leverage power that it thought would be useful in attaining their deep-seated interests.
However, the US did successfully introduce some form of strategic steps necessary for any post conflict reforms to take the country in to the next phase. However, Afghan war presents lot of loopholes and the conflict was undermined in many aspects, in fact there was a time when it was thought that US would once again abandon the region as it did in the past during its proxy war with USSR. Some argued that US would eventually build the nation of Afghanistan and its intention is to linger on longer than one expected. Whatever the case may have been, this paper might be justified in concluding, this war has taught US a lesson that it may not forget in its near future (Yousaf, 2012).
Post conflict scenario is always tricky and most difficult for the nations who wages war over other nation. The history of two world wars bears the testament to that precisely as state building over the ruins of war was never easy to come by. In fact, it took decades for countries that suffered havocs of two world wars, to build from the destruction. Case in point in this regard is the war of Afghanistan that has vacillated from one end to the other. To this day the true objectives of the war have not been achieved, in fact, it would be justified to assert that US has been trying to have face saving by achieving minimum level of stability in post-conflict Afghanistan and the wider region (Barakat, Evans, & Zyck, 2012).
Our discussion here is not about the circumstances that led to Afghan war, nor are we concerned about its tumultuous and chequered history ever since the days of Afghanistan’s last king Zahir Shah – the son of Nadir Shah. The modern historians and political experts believe it to be one of the golden eras of Afghanistan under King Zahir Shah. Most importantly, one should ask a question: is it that easy for war-waging military to build a nation which is believed to be hanging in to the middle-ages as for as human development, social, economic and political development was concerned (Hoffman, & Fodor, 2010). Therefore, it was always going to be a monumental task from the word goes. One that would require lots of resources at hand, such as human, material, of requirement of regional, international support and of strong political will from all the stakeholders. Let’s not downplay the fact that it is by no measure a small country, which finds itself in its tough neighborhood and vice versa. The country has been suffering from war for more than thirty years, ever since the invasion of USSR. However, it is vital to know as to what is post conflict reformation that military is supposed to undertake? It is nothing but the reformation of state and society as a whole (Foust, 2010). This is manifested through ensuring rule of law ameliorating, building up economic institutions and construction of physical infrastructure, and lastly making sure that human rights are respected. In the sense that state and society is completely sensitive of those values of freedom of expression, human dignity and human rights.
Background of the Afghan War
US did not attack Afghanistan for the stated purpose to build the country, rather it was attacked over its alleged involvement of giving sanctuaries to the terrorists who were believed to have concocted the attack on World Trade Centre and Pentagon. The attacks culminated in the form of war that was undertaken by Bush-led administration to rid the country of terrorists. So the war was eventually undertaken by US, and within no time was it able to remove Taliban regime from power. But US decided to hang in there longer than was originally intended. While US-led ISAF forces kept fighting to subdue the insurgents that kept giving them fight over the course of this one of the longest war in American history. At one point rather, the international community and the regional actors, such as Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, etc started to doubt the American commitment of Afghan war. As they believed that it may abandon the region amid way as it did after the closure of Soviet war in Afghanistan, which started in 1979 and ended in 1989 (Barakat, Evans, & Zyck, 2012)
So the regional stakeholders were ambivalent and apprehensive about American’s commitment to Afghan war. Furthermore, US made it explicitly clear that it is coming to hunt down people who were responsible to carryout coward, inhuman and atrocious acts of 9/11. However, the war had many domestic, regional and international critics. One of them was that US has hidden agenda to occupy another country to execute its objectives of clandestine foreign policy (Hoffman & Fodor, 2010).
Another such objective was to encircle china, and second was to control the resource-rich countries of Central Asia. It must also be stated here clearly, that US itself was not clear on many counts, such as over the duration of the war and the ultimate objectives of the war. Earlier, it was just a war to rid the country of terrorists and those who sympathize with them. But gradually different objectives emerged and some were even contradictory to one another. After years of the war, international audience knew about reconstruction project, which was a surprise to many international experts and political pundits all over the world (Davis, 2010).
US - Occupying or Liberating Power?
For US Afghan-war might have been the beginning step to fight the war on terror, hence it was just a war to quell the terrorists who were thought to be ever ready to attack US interest any where they find feasible. But Afghani people look upon US as ‘occupying power’. US might have been chanted as liberating force in the beginning but longer they stayed, more are they going to be seen as force that wants to imperialize their country. In this regard, it would be wrong for Americans to follow Canadian writer, Micheal Ignatieff, who called ‘empire lite’ in Afghanistan (Davis, 2010).
Forget the trust factor; there are other important aspects that are playing against the stated long term objectives of US military. This is to build the nation, so that its soil is never used against its interests, while the region as a whole is stabilized so that terrorists are not able to use it for atrocious and inhuman acts. Recently US were criticized severely over a killing of a boy by Taliban, who was a little army soldier. People with the sense went on to comment, that it is never an acceptable norm to hire and then eventually train a boy over to fight against the insurgents. This notion of hiring boys in the military is idea a preposterous by any moral standards of the world.
US has perhaps been granted its due credit of building up Afghan National Army. It is been considered as the sine qua non for security in the country. But ANA is not considered to be superior in lots of counts by world’s military standards of the armies of established countries. Leading war historians are of the view that there is little doubt that it is likely to succeed against it formidable enemy, let alone insurgency.
In contrast, some experts believe that though the military lacks a lot in strength, but despite its flaws, there is reason to think that Afghanistan’s Army may be able to hold ground. Whatever the case may be, there is little doubt that US took herculean effort at building ANA. So that, it quickly takes over the charge of security of its country, and no forces, internal or external are able to violate the territorial integrity of the Afghan nation.
Again there is lots of pessimism when it comes to efficiency of the Afghanistan National Security Force. As lot is expected of US, perhaps, it would not be unjustified to allege that native Afghani people forget what is expected of them, or what they responsible of are. It is just they want to blame someone else for their own misery, and contend that it was US which is responsible for all the mess that has been created, so it is US’s duty to rectify its wrong. It would not be unjustified to contend that native people have taken services of US military for granted(Scott, 2011). It is pity as to just how US military has been dubbed of what it is not responsible of. It is believed that while professional progress of the military is slow and steady and local leadership has been gaining the ground.
But post-2017 resources are largely undetermined, as to oft-cited annual budget of around $5.1 billion is not yet been backed up sufficiently by the donors. Who had promised in NATO Chicago Summit held in 2012, which pledges of around that much money would be made to enhance professional capability of the Afghanistan’s National Security Force. Besides, the ANSF still is lacking in tactical trainings at the squad, while platoon and company levels are believed to be not going alright across units. Furthermore, there are areas which are thought to be no-go areas for ANSF, thus it is unable to roam freely in some parts of the country which are hostile to it, while in some it cannot go without US. Air support (Hoffman, & Fodor, 2010).
It is believed that there is lack of cooperation between various factions of ANSF, as it is derived from various cultural, ethnic and linguistic factions of the Afghanistan. And is devoid of retaining trained personnel and thus lacks sustainability and consistency. Any country that wages a war on another country would always be distrusted by local population. It is apparent that US was handicapped in this regard and building a nation which is victim of war destruction under those scenario was never easy. US nonetheless took project to reconstruct Afghanistan. So that, according to US the country is not used for attacks on American interests.
Military is always at the forefront to carryout war and reconstruction efforts. In this regard, Pentagon ran the Afghan war campaign, which has not just been trying to prevent coming back of hardliners into power, but to prevent regional destabilization (Scott, 2011). As countries of region are filled to the tooth and nail when you talk about possessing WMDs. One of most important objective of US has been to prevent terrorists getting over the nukes of some of the destabilized countries. Which are thought of at the brink of labeled as failed states and that too in region which is considered as most dangerous region in the world. Afghanistan is considered one of the biggest countries of producing opium, which is allegedly supplied to remote and distant corners of the world (Lind, Moene, & Willumsen, 2013).
Strategy and the Road-ahead for reformation and reconstruction
One of the best strategies of the military must have been to be sensitive of post-war scenario and the needs as such. First of all, it is never easy to build a country at the ashes of war as the transition from war to peace is a complex phenomenon. As there are concurrent forces of economic, security and social associated with transition face.
Military may have been at the fore front of guiding reconstruction and reformation efforts, but it is directed by civilians. One of the failures of every military is the lack of understanding of needs, conditions and pre-disposition of the country in which it decides to go to war. Hence, military efforts should be representative and sensitive of those needs and cultural moorings of the country. Any digress from that is sure to result in lack of success, if not complete failure.
Moreover, the local people of the native country should be made part of the whole developmental scheme as they have deep roots in their respective society. In truth, they are likely to succeed more than occupying US military if given rightful opportunity. Let’s shed some light on number of possible avenues that are ever proving troublesome when it comes to post-conflict reform of war-torn country.
- Quote paper
- Emmanuel David Togba (Author), 2016, Afghanistan Post-conflict Reforms challenges. Has US Military failed?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/423611