Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The US needs an exit plan for Afghanistan

There seems to be no end in sight to Washington’s campaign in the troubled land

* Gulf New Editorial, October 18, 2010

The United States is not only losing ground in its offensive against the militants in Afghanistan but also in the battle to win the hearts and minds of the common people in that war-ravaged country. The approach of the world’s only superpower could at best be described as desensitised and high-handed.

The gravity of the situation could be gauged from the court martial findings of five soldiers who have been accused of murdering Afghan civilians in Kandahar for sport. The fact that this particular military unit was beset with rampant drug abuse and failed to be under the direct control of commanders, as they launched a trigger-happy approach, gives the impression that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of human rights violations.

Thousands of innocent civilians have been losing their lives ever since General David Petraeus decided to unleash exceptional quantities of firepower on the Taliban to prop up his policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Operating forces are functioning at a higher tempo in their quest to kill and capture militants but, in their haste, they have often failed to differentiate between innocent people and terrorists.

Petraeus’s strategy is still unfolding and has yet to validate itself as a viable scheme for the US-led Nato forces and for the civilians for whom there has been absolutely no respite from dual atrocities at the hands of the Taliban and their so-called liberators.

Perhaps there is nothing more lamentable than the fact that despite the bragging about lofty ideals and strategic thinking a group of rogue soldiers operated on the ground, under the limited supervision of commanders of the world’s most advanced military unit, taking drugs and massacring innocent people for thrills.

The US insists that the endgame has begun in Afghanistan, but there seems to be no plausible end in sight.
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