The West cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan alone. The U.S. and its European allies can treat the symptoms, but they can only stave off the absolute disaster for a period of time, at the cost of much blood and treasure.
In a September 2012 telephone conversation with the erstwhile US president Barack Obama, then Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked him to “cut into the activity of war and make up with Pakistan on the peace process with the Taliban” in Afghanistan or “take the war against terrorism where the sanctuaries are”.
President Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet accusing Pakistan of “lies and deceit” was not a random emotional comment by an American leader who tends to follow his instincts more than the advice of the entrenched foreign policy community. It reflected the deep mistrust that has characterized the U.S.-Pakistan relationship that has only grown since 9/11.
On the same day the moon blotted out the sun in an eclipse last year, President Trump announced a “new” Afghanistan policy that blotted out common sense and any hope that we’d extricate ourselves from our longest war and withdraw from the land long known as the graveyard of empires. Trump was vague about how many soldiers he plans to dump into the quagmire while hanging a bullseye on their backs, but most estimates put it at about 3,000.
On December 26, 2017, the first China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held in Beijing. The two most important takeaways from this trilateral dialogue were Beijing’s “read[iness] to play a constructive role in improving Afghanistan-Pakistan relations” and decision on “extending CPEC [the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] to Afghanistan.”
Following past patterns of behavior, President Trump issued his first tweet of 2018 insulting Pakistan and building on his threat to cut off foreign military financing that is one piece of the massive assistance package that the US gives the country each year.
A deadly suicide attack that claimed the lives of 41 people in Kabul on Thursday was another stark reminder that the U.S. war against terrorism in Afghanistan — now in its 16th year and the longest American war — is far from over.
The latest standoff between Ustad Atta Muhammad Noor, the powerful Governor of Balkh province, and the leadership of the National Unity government has equally attracted national and international attention.
ISIS should have been eliminated in Afghanistan. That’s what Americans will tell you, anyway.
This week saw another deadly bomb attack in the Afghan capital, Kabul, only days after US Vice President Mike Pence promised American troops “victory was in sight.”