Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now Afghanistan too shows the limits of American power

British troops are paying the blood price in Helmand, as they did in Iraq, of a now officially subservient relationship

Seumas Milne, Wednesday 21 July 2010

".....We are accustomed to the idea that Iraq has been a disaster; now we are getting used to seeing the war in Afghanistan in the same light. It has failed in every one of its ever-changing objectives – from preventing the spread of terrorism and eradicating opium production to promoting democracy and the position of women, which has actually deteriorated under Nato occupation according to Afghan women's groups.

What it has now really come to be about is the credibility of the US and Nato. There has long been an obvious way out of the Afghanistan imbroglio: withdrawal of foreign occupation troops, negotiated with all significant Afghan forces, including the Taliban, as part of a settlement guaranteed by the regional and other powers. The fact that a solution long backed by the war's opponents is now being taken up by its supporters is a measure of how badly things are going on the ground.

For what is now taking place in Afghanistan has the potential to reinforce what has already been demonstrated in Iraq: namely the limits of US power to impose its will by force. If the unmatched might of the American military can be seen off by a ragtag army in one of the poorest countries of the world, the implications for the new international order are profound. Which is why the US and its closest allies will do everything to avoid the appearance of defeat – and why many thousands more Afghans and Nato troops will pay the price of a war their leaders now accept can never be won."

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