- A journalist says that the US after ten years of forcing war on Afghanistan has so alienated the Afghan people that any victory for the US is impossible.
Press TV talks with Gareth Porter, investigative journalist in Washington about the social justice consequences ignored by the US and coalition of the willing that has now left the US without the possibility of victory in Afghanistan and the Taliban a stronger resistance than ever before. Following is a transcript of the interview.
When former US president Bush made the announcement to send troops to Afghanistan, did the Americans think that the war would last for more than ten years and why has it lasted so long?
The irony of the war in Afghanistan is that the people who were most influential in regard to military policy in the Bush administration were not eager to go to war in Afghanistan; in fact, the so-called neo-cons were absolutely opposed to going into Afghanistan with any significant force.
They were really interested in, of course, attacking Iraq and therefore they were very afraid of any commitment of US forces to Afghanistan, which they thought would endanger the plan they had for Iraq.
So, this war really happened despite the desire of the strategists in the Bush administration for avoiding a war in Afghanistan. The real reason was of course that the Bush White House felt that the president had no choice but to go into Afghanistan because of the 9/11 attacks and the pressure of public opinion.
The idea was that there was a direct connection between going to war in Afghanistan and the al-Qaeda plan for attack against the US - whereas we now know that that was a very weak tenuous connection if it existed at all because the Taliban was not brought into the plan - was not supporting the plan at all.
Referring to the bigger picture and comments made by former commander of the coalition forces in Afghanistan retired general Stanley McChrystal - He has said the US held a frighteningly simplistic view of the country when it declared war on the Taliban in 2001 and a decade later it still lacks, he says, the necessary knowhow to bring the conflict to a satisfactory end. How realistic is McChrystal's view - Do you think they did actually have a simplistic view or is there a bigger picture involved here?
They definitely did have a simplistic view no question about that. Unfortunately, McChrystal himself was one of the people who was guilty of that simplistic view. And I think the essence of the problem of a simplistic view of Afghanistan as far as the US was and is concerned is the utter failure to appreciate the social justice consequences of the US going into Afghanistan not only with significant numbers of troops, but with a huge amount of foreign assistance.
What that did was to suborn an entire class of elite Afghans both militarily and in terms of civilian politics who essentially were empowered by the US to seize new privileges in that society and thus to alienate certainly the large majority of the Pashtun population in the south and east and to a great extent even in the north and west. This is the dynamic that the Americans completely failed to appreciate and I think still are in denial about.
The more power the US puts into Afghanistan in terms of military might and money, the more it enhances or exaggerates the social injustice in that society and as I think your report correctly observed, really gives the Taliban a political advantage that cannot be overcome.
Do you agree that the US can't define what victory is in Afghanistan; it's confused about what it's going to achieve before it decides to leave. We have the stated program that a lot of the troops will be out by 2014 although of course Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that doesn't mean a full departure that they will be staying - So what is their plan for staying on in Afghanistan?
The plan for staying on in Afghanistan is to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Hamid Karzai, which would keep American troops there through 2014 and perhaps beyond that date. And I think that's a prospect, which I think we're going to see come to fruition in the coming weeks.
It is another indication of the absolute lack of coherence in US policy not just in Afghanistan, but in the region as a whole... The fact is that US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is determined not by an assessment of the situation in those countries and the strategy that is required to stabilize that situation, but rather by domestic political interests and institutional interests involved.
I think the most important institutional interest is that of the US military and the Pentagon - they are the most powerful set of interests the US and the world has ever known. And the idea that they are going to give up their presence in Afghanistan without resistance is simply naïve.
I think the white House has been forced to recognize that in the process of making policy. The White House on the other hand has an interest in showing that the president is getting out of Afghanistan for political purposes of running for the White House again next year and therefore you have a degree of coherence, which is extreme, but which is typical I think of US foreign military policy.