I DON'T do quagmires”, Donald Rumsfeld had once declared rather grandly. He didn’t believe in exit strategies either. Yet, eight years later with casualties rising to a little more than one death a day in Afghanistan and expenses crossing US $ 450 billion, in December 2009 President Obama, referred to July 2011 as the date by which the US would begin to pull out of Afghanistan . This state has been the result of a policy that presumed that military supremacy was an unqualified good born of American superiority. Great though the power of the American military machine might have been, it was not great enough to solve problems such as global terrorism of the al Qaeda variety. America needed help of friends, demonised its own supporters like President Karzai, it chose other friends wrongly and declined others’ advice. Consequently, it ended fighting the wrong war at the wrong place with wrong tactics.
The declared US objective has been to take out Al Qaeda from Afghanistan so that they do not become a threat to the US and its allies. Yet the Al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan; it is mostly in Pakistan with sanctuaries in Yemen and Afghanistan. It is the Taliban that is mostly in Afghanistan with sanctuaries in Pakistan, so the result is that the US has been fighting an obscurantist section of an ethnic component of Afghanistan whose objective has been to throw the foreigner out and seems to be succeeding. The Taliban now represent, by and large, the Pushtun sentiment in Afghanistan and they are spreading into Kunduz in the north as well. It is possible now that the US will re- evaluate its policy towards Pakistan following the killing of seven CIA operatives inside the CIA camp in Khost; an attack that originated with the Pakistan Taliban. This act highlighted not only the dangers of counter terror operations but also that the level of commitment in the opposition to the US was very high. The US now wants to achieve something in eighteen months what has not been possible in eight years.