NATO Secretly Planning to Leave Afghanistan by 2014;
5 NATO Troops Killed

The Afghanistan War claimed another 5 NATO troops, it was announced Saturday, two of them American and two British.

Taliban blew up the gate of the main prison in Farah Province in Afghanistan, briefly releasing about 20 inmates from captivity. Four were arrested when they were wounded in the bombing, and 7 more were recaptured by police. It seems about 9 are still at large. But there should have been pylons in front of the prison gate to stop this sort of attack.

The Independent reports that it has seen the text of a resolution expected to be adopted at Tuesday’s conference of major donors in Kabul, which calls for NATO military forces to depart Afghanistan by 2014, turning it over to the new Afghanistan Army and the Kabul government.

Authorities say that a bomb plot against the donor conference has been rolled up. Kabul has been the target of many bombing campaigns in the past year.

The document is said to declare, “The international community expressed its support for the President of Afghanistan’s objective that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.”

How, you may ask, can Afghanistan possibly hope to pay for a $2 bn. a year military force when its annual government budget is only $1 bn. in all? The document goes on to pledge that the international community “provide the support necessary to increase security during this time, and the continued support in training, equipping and providing interim financing to the ANSF at every level to take on the task of securing their country…”

The problem is that the Afghanistan National Army is 90% illiterate, poorly trained and officered, and has shown no appetite for long slogging battles against insurgents. This BBC report falls for a British military propaganda message, which is that a 500-man Afghanistan military unit planned and carried out an operation against insurgents in Helmand province. But then we get to the fine print at the end: ‘ “The MoD [Ministry of Defense] said the area was “thought to be dominated by the Taliban, but in the sweltering heat of the first morning there was no contact with the enemy.” As the Afghan forces moved further east into the area of Yakchal, one unit came under sporadic fire, the MoD said but support from ISAF Apache helicopters dispersed the insurgents. ‘

In other words, the ANSF did not make significant contact with the enemy in the course of this heralded independent operation, and when the unit received light arms fire, it just called in NATO airstrikes on the enemy.

A turning point came in Iraq when the Iraqi army (after some hesitation) obeyed PM Nuri al-Maliki’s orders to attack the Mahdi Army in Basra, stood and fought in poor neighborhoods such as Hayaniya, and subsequently manned checkpoints and restored a modicum of security to the city. They, too, had significant foreign air support. But we just haven’t seen a Basra moment in Afghanistan and so some skepticism about the capabilities of the Afghanistan army is in order. But the US and its NATO allies can’t get out unless the ANA does step up.

A sign of not stepping up is when your provincial prisons are relatively easily blown up and insurgents captured with blood and treasure can just walk out again.

Aljazeera English reports on reconciliation steps between the Afghanistan government of President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban. These include releasing those imprisoned without good evidence against them, an amnesty for fighters who come in from the cold, and attempting to get Taliban leaders taken off the UN terrorism list so that they can be negotiated with:

11 Responses

  1. When I saw the BBC article about taking on a Taliban stronghold in Helmand, my first reaction was, “I thought they already used up that lie.” I thought everyone who was paying attention has known for months about the lack of anything interesting there.

  2. NATO can plan all it wants: economic decline will force it to leave before 2014. Western markets will keep falling and won’t hit bottom till after 2014. It’s no coincidence that George W Bush launched the war in Afghanistan soon after American stock markets topped. It was his way of having the government pour money into the economy, which he accelerated by then launching the war in Iraq. Bush’s last move was to create yet more money out of thin air in order to rescue AIG and bail out Wall Street. Obama’s following in Bush’s footsteps by flooding the marketplace with newly printed money, but the effect is to crowd out private savings, which are the only source of the capital that’s needed to start businesses. Western economists get the story backwards: they say consumer spending drives the economy. But consumers can’t spend unless they have jobs, and they can’t find jobs unless new companies create them. But new companies can’t create them unless they have access to capital. Not credit, but capital. Capital only comes from private savings: government has no savings. As Bush did and Obama has done, politicians rescue large businesses that are failing and that will never create jobs. It’s start-up businesses that create jobs. Government has a role in fostering education, but can only weaken the economy by tampering with capital markets.

    Politicians aren’t going to let go of their talent for making the populace think there’s a free lunch. The question is whether the bankers who take advantage of federal money-printing will restrain their greed soon enough to head off collapse by abandoning the existing monetary fraud. When government prints money, it’s the bankers who get it first. When that money later trickles down to the populace, it’s lost much of its value, but the bankers have done well.

  3. “But the US and its NATO allies can’t get out unless the ANA does step up.”

    Since the fight is against us, and for the purpose of driving us out, who will the ANA be “stepping up” against in the event that we pack up and leave? There have been many cases reported, some of them reported by you, where the locals preferred the Taliban to what the Afghan government provided.

    • Bill, the insurgents want to overthrow the Kabul government. Driving out the foreigners is a means to that end.

      • This rests on the assumption that the Afghans are less concerned with foreign occupation than whoever is in Kabul. Does this make sense?

        There was a civil war against the Communist government that took power in 1978. So when the Soviet army invaded over Christmas 1979, were those who rose against them concerned only with getting rid of Najibullah, or were some of them maybe concerned with the Soviet invaders themselves?

        When the Americans do as they do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, do you really have to be concerned with Hamid Karzai to want to be rid of such people?

        • PA, in reality “civil war” in 1978 was in a big part CIA’s intervention against pro-Soviet government – see the founding of Al-Qaida. So it is not a good comparison, even though I agree with you that Karzai is but a puppet of USA, so he is definitely not a key reason to anti-occupation struggle.

  4. The article talks about Britain, not NATO. The whole “conditions-based and phased transition” seems vague. In short the troops will pull out when the Afghan National whatever is in charge, which is never. It looks more to me like the various NATO nations are bailout out one by one. So what is a practical politician to do? Claim bailing out one by one is really the plan.

    It sounds sort of like Vietnam where the ‘allies’ pulled out leaving the North Vietnamese Army operating in South Vietnam and the Viet Cong intact. I suspect the Karzai government will fare better as they will be supported by China and Iran.

  5. .
    my very first reaction to the note that some locals had busted their neighbors out of jail
    was to recount the motto of US Army Special Forces: de opresso liber.

  6. That headline, “NATO Secretly Planning to Leave Afghanistan by 2014,” reminds me of the Woody Allen joke, “And then, when I was 27, I ran away from home.”

  7. Few people understand the relevance of this moment, the week to come and the new way security will be addressed going forward. The parties meeting on winding down conflict in Afghanistan understand perhaps for the first time that the World’s climate condition makes it imperative to stop fighting and work together for a change. This would not have occurred had a huge driving force of both politics and industry including resource extraction outfits had not come to grips that indeed as in science when new variables make chaos war is no longer a luxury, in fact violence itself is completely at odds with keeping the planet alive. The cartels, the infighting and secret power holders of big finance and industry have set a reason to meet. It’s big.

  8. Nato is planning to leave in 2014. Why they came to Afghanistan?
    Was it a was against terrorism?
    Was it a was against taliban?
    Or was it a war against islam?
    The reason of nato’s attack on afghanistan was to finish taliban, to find osama but they couldn’t do anything.
    Before nato it was peace here, there were no killings but after the attack of nato everyday as an average more than 30 civilians are killed.
    When there is an attack on isaf forces, the isaf forces kills innocent civillians.
    As i think this fight is against muslims and islam.
    American is not letting iran to make atomic bomb but america itself is making lot’s every year.
    I am an 18 years old boy from afghanistan and what i wanna say is that nato won’t leave till he see’s his benefit here not the benefit of afghans.

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