The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border into Afghanistan, where they would remain for almost ten grueling years, Brzezinski wrote to President Jimmy Carter ” We now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War”
When the US opened “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan following the suspicious 9/11/2001 incidents, few people questioned the decision. But today, after nine years of sacrifice, that attitude is changing. Now, with the Obama administration beating a slow retreat from Afghanistan, promising to be out of that country by July 2011, many are beginning to wonder: how did the United States get itself so entangled in this bloody mess? After all, Washington could not have forgotten the heavy price the Soviet Union paid for mobilizing its troops against Afghanistan.
In 1998, US political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski boasted in an interview with a French journal that the United States, in 1979, lured Soviet forces into the “Afghan trap” by supporting the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border into Afghanistan, where they would remain for almost ten grueling years, Brzezinski wrote to President Jimmy Carter: “We now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War.”
So why did the United States decide to open a war in a land that, in Brzezinski’s words, “brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.”
The reason for launching “Operation Enduring Freedom” without much concern for the long-term risks was partially due to the heady hubris the United States was suffering at the time 9/11 exploded on the scene.
It must be admitted, however, that the United States got off to a better-than-expected start in Afghanistan: the odious Taliban was quickly routed, and al-Qaeda’s bases were dealt a heavy blow. It seemed like another easy victory for the Western coalition was in the works. But then the United States broke the first rule of warfare in March, 2003 when it opened a second front, this time in Iraq, against the Ba’thist regime of Saddam.
Not only did this throw off the military momentum in Afghanistan, but it cost the United States a huge amount of international support. But this did not seem to trouble the Bush regime much. After all, superpowers have no need for support groups. It also did not help the reputation of the western intelligence community that not a single “weapon of mass destruction” was ever discovered in Iraq. Now, every time a NATO soldier loses his or her life in Afghanistan, the US military gets part of the blame for taking its eye off the ball, recklessly invading Iraq “for its oil” while operations in Afghanistan continue to unravel.
Since 2006, the Taliban-led insurgency has enjoyed a comeback, while the supposedly suicide attacks have dealt coalition forces a deadly blow. The single worst setback for US forces came in December, 2009, when an alleged Afghan informant detonated a bomb as he was being escorted into Forward Operating Base Chapman in eastern Afghanistan, near Khost. The attack killed seven agents.
Meanwhile, improvised explosive devices (IEDS), which the Afghans had turned into a devastating weapon in their war against the Soviet Army, have become the insurgency’s primary weapon of choice. In January, 2010, military experts reported Taliban fighters had developed a new generation IED that was practically undetectable because it had no metal or electronic parts.
According to a report by the US-based Homeland Security Market research, the number of IEDs used in Afghanistan has increased by 400 per cent since 2007, while the number of troops killed by these devices rose by 400 per cent, and those wounded by 700 per cent. Clearly, IEDs are the number one cause of death among NATO troops in Afghanistan.
According to the independent website iCasualties, as of October 1, 2010, there have been 2,049 coalition deaths in Afghanistan, with US fatalities numbering 1,234. The nation with the second-highest number of fatalities is Britain, with 338.
Meanwhile, perhaps the most disturbing sign to come out of Afghanistan is that US forces are being drawn further away from the main theater of operations in a desperate search of the elusive Taliban. This is prompting the United States to increase the implementation of drone missile attacks against suspected terrorist hideouts – in Pakistan.
Recently, in the aftermath of a US helicopter attack that killed two Pakistani soldiers, Islamabad closed a key border crossing NATO uses to transport supplies to Afghanistan.
Despite the tensions between the United States and Pakistan, the US military continues to launch missile strikes in Pakistan, specifically in the North Waziristan tribal region, where several militant groups are allegedly based.
The United States rarely acknowledges its covert drone missile program. In Pakistan, the strikes are officially condemned, yet grudgingly supported behind the scenes.
In light of these recent developments, which see the United States being pulled further afield in its efforts to pursue escaping insurgents, it should keep one crucial thing in mind that is regularly ignored in the Western media: unlike Afghanistan, Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
Before the actions of the United States prompts Pakistanis to elect a government that has far less patience for military incursions on its territory, better to show some restraint and draw the line at the Pakistani border.
By Robert Bridge, a frequent contributor to Global Research website.