Why America Cannot Win in Afghanistan
Why America Cannot Win in Afghanistan
An interview with Pakistani General (ret.) Hamid Gul, by Bonnie Faulkner, “Guns and Butter,” KPFA-FM, Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In this important interview, Gen. Hamid Gul explains that the US war in Afghanistan was doomed from the start. As a military professional with a distinguished career, he identifies the key factors that determine success or failure in war, and shows that the US is failing in almost every area.
Here is his initial point: “So first, the premise has to be correct for going to war. That wasn’t correct at all. And I think it was based on lies. 9/11 is, in my opinion, still a huge, big fraud which has been perpetrated on the world, but more than that, on the American people themselves. And because they could not win a vote to support a war of this kind, so they had to create an excuse so that there would be world sympathy, which there was after 9/11, and the American people would be so angry, annoyed and alarmed that they would not question their government about their credentials and the veracity of what happened on 9/11.”
Gen. Gul then outlines the precariousness of the lines of communication depended upon by US forces (logistics), due to their length from Karachi to Afghanistan and susceptibility to frequent attack by a hostile population in Pakistan. He then surveys the intelligence failure, recently exposed in the WikiLeaks Afghan war materials, due to the almost total lack of reliable human intelligence and the uselessness of signals intelligence in a country like Afghanistan. He is especially critical of the increasing mixture of military and intelligence personnel, with their different training and skills, in the intelligence-collection effort, and the desperate resort to private contractors for intelligence.
Gen. Gul criticizes the failure on the part of US war planners to assess the nature of the enemy in Afghanistan, a people who never give up. He concludes that the resolve and resilience of the Taliban was seriously underestimated by the Pentagon. Further, the US has supported and tried to utilize corrupt elements of Afghan society to pursue its war aims, but that these people are completely unreliable. His principal example is the US employment of a local warlord, Hazrat Ali, which resulted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora.
Gul shows that the objectives of the US military have changed. The first objective, the capture of Osama bin Laden, failed. So a new objective was declared, to defeat the Taliban. Gul argues that all military thinkers from Sun Tzu to MacArthur have insisted on the selection and maintenance of a single objective, and that to change the goalposts is to guarantee defeat.
He then shows that the US cannot use its superior firepower because it cannot locate targets to attack; that it has a great disadvantage in manpower, as fighters are flocking to the resistance forces because they “smell victory”; that the Taliban control the countryside, with the US forces squeezed into garrison towns from which “they dare not venture”; and that time is on the side of the resistance, as the US cannot stay there forever. He makes a strong case that the Taliban are fully supported by the population throughout the country, and therefore the US cannot defeat them without defeating the entire Afghan people.
He goes on to compare the US occupation to that of the Soviet Union, and shows the considerable advantages the Soviet Union had over the current NATO forces. Yet, the Soviet Union was trounced. Gul says that if instead of 40,000 additional troops, the US were to send 400,000, it would still lose the war.
He concludes with a description of the corruption of the Afghan puppet government and the US reconstruction efforts, and the astonishing resurgence of opium production in the country, surmising that the opium is flown out of the country on US transport planes to Europe and the United States with the full knowledge of the highest US government officials.