Germans blast NATO's Afghan strategy … A deal with the devil in Afghanistan is the mostly likely solution to a simmering insurgency, a study from a group of German think tanks said. Margret Johannsen of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy in Hamburg co-authored a report criticizing a NATO war plan for broad counterinsurgency operations as counterproductive to the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Der Spiegel reports. "I don't believe that it's possible to, at the same time, chase Taliban and build efficient state structures," she says. The report by top think tanks in Germany said a reintegration and reconciliation plan offered by Afghan President Hamid Karzai might be the best course of action for the beleaguered country. – UPI
Dominant Social Theme: The Germans are now most concerned and are voicing their doubts.
Free-Market Analysis: We have identified two of the power elite's most fragile current themes as the EU and the war in Afghanistan. The break-up of the EU (or at least the foundering of the euro) is increasingly a viable possibility from our point of view. The ongoing, slow-motion unraveling of the war in Afghanistan is also a reality.
In this article we will return to the fracturing dominant social theme of Afghanistan domination and the difficulties faced by America and NATO in the continued prosecution of the war – not because we haven't covered it recently (we have) but because now the Germans are weighing in with the roughly the same analysis that we have just offered. Here's some more from the article excerpted above:
Karzai during his visit to Washington last week outlined plans to invite low- and mid-level Taliban into the political process if they pledged to sever ties with al-Qaida. Taliban leaders, however, said they would not enter into talks while Western forces were in the country. Correspondents for National Public Radio, meanwhile, say the Taliban have reconstituted their presence in Helmand province, where U.S. and international forces launched a major offensive in February. Nevertheless, Johannsen said dealing with the Taliban should be part of a new strategy for Afghanistan.
We think we know what Johannsen is concerned about. Bluntly put, it is impossible to build a nation while shooting its citizens. America and NATO are at war with the Taliban, which is a fighting force made up mostly of Pashtuns, the very tribe that the Americans and NATO are seeking to build a nation with.
There are other emergent dilemmas as well. The "hearts and minds" strategy sounded good on paper but in a vicious and confusing war, such as the one being waged in Afghanistan, civilian casualties are almost a given and likely cannot be eradicated. In fact, even after the enunciation of this policy, civilian casualties have continued to occur and we wonder if they have not increased.
On top of the civilian casualties, it would seem that the Americans and NATO are involved with what must be seen from the Afghan's point of view as a kind of scorched earth-policy. Most Afghan herd animals reportedly have been wiped out in the fighting, radically changing the way many Afghans must earn a living. And just recently we reported on a much-reduced poppy crop due to a biological plague of some sort, which many Afghans blame on the West as well (click here to read).
Thus it is (and the Germans must perceive this) that the strategy being pursued by the West in Afghanistan is one of nation building with a dominant tribe (the Pashtuns) that is supportive of the enemy (Taliban) and whose livelihood in aggregate has been increasingly threatened by the conflict. Of late it has emerged that tensions are such in Afghanistan right now that other ethnicities that have traditionally opposed the Pashtun are becoming less sympathetic to the West as well.
Given the formidable challenges spelled out above, we are not surprised the Germans have reached the conclusion that the current Western strategy in Afghanistan is fairly untenable. What we are not clear on – and perhaps no one is – is whether American military leaders are psychologically able to internalize such conclusions and act on them. (Given that there is a NATO draft working paper currently circulating in Europe that calls emphatically for "winning the war" in Afghanistan, it would seem not.)
We know that the supposed "real" reason for America to be fighting in Afghanistan with NATO is to secure real-estate for an oil-and-gas pipeline. But as we have written in the past, this may be a rationale (one of several) for a different reason, one which has more to do with control than energy in our opinion. From our point of view, a major reason the Anglo-American elite has returned to Afghanistan (as to Iraq) is because the region is one of the last undisposed to accepting Western-style regulatory democracy. This is a big deal to the Anglo-American power elite, which increasingly hopes to move the world toward some sort of global governance.
In both America and now in Germany, there is beginning to be significant pushback to America's (and NATO's) serial and long-lasting wars. While the elite has been successful in positioning the Afghanistan war as a kind of self-defense against much earlier Taliban aggression, there is likely a time limit on the efficacy of this promotion. The Germans and other Europeans are gradually removing themselves from these military actions in our opinion. The ramifications would be significant if this proves so.
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