None other than Gen. Austin Miller, the head of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, stated ingenuously that in Afghanistan “this is not going to be won militarily… This is going to a political solution”. He put it bluntly that the USA and its armed collaborators had failed to secure even their economic interests and instead murdered thousands of people. As a result, the mess that they created over 16 years or so, it will become extremely difficult for Afghanistan to come back to any kind of normalcy in near future. The option was to be out of Afghanistan. And as soon as possible.
In a defeatist mood, the NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, also head of the Pentagon look up to the peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, albeit with guarded optimism about efforts to end the 17-year war in the country. The two landed in Doha in January-end. The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad continues to voice a positive assessment about five days of talks with Taliban negotiations there.
Things began to be frustrating for the US-led NATO When the ISIS discreetly chipped in and used the same arms, manufactured by 24 countries that it captured from the Iraqi and other forces. A report by Conflict Armament Research said that some weapons bought by the U.S. military in 2015 ended up in the hands of Islamic State fighters within two months. “Under at least two different programs, the U.S. Government has supplied weapons to Syrian armed groups, first to fight the Assad regime and then to assist the Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the Islamic State. Some of ISIS’ weapons are also thought to have been pilfered from military stockpiles while others were purchased illicitly”. Those ghosts from the past are the ones haunting today. Politically, Kabul appears to be moving in a direction where the forces that wanted Taliban out and considered it as their enemy have now accepted its presence and inevitability. Taliban is being legitimised or has forced powers to recognise it. Rather it is time to appreciate India’s judicious endeavour for decades to promote democracy in Afghanistan.
An independent initiative, Other Scripts, committed against neo-liberalism and awkward growth of crony capitalism in a synoptic study, ‘Afghanistan: Can it emerge out of its darkness with external assistance’, made revealing observations about disastrous consequences of NATO’s hoary-headed policy of military interventionism in Afghanistan.
The USA incurred a total expenditure of $45 billion in 2018, – “$5 billion for Afghan forces and $13 billion for U.S. forces inside Afghanistan. Much of the rest is for logistical support. Some $780 million goes toward economic aid”. When it comes to spending, the study notes, instead of safeguarding people, the weaponry that is used, is produced somewhere and wherever it is produced, it generates a huge profit for arms manufactures. A missile, a bomb, a rifle or a tank that is fired or dropped in Afghanistan augments riches of private capital in United states.
“The biggest beneficiaries of Pentagon largesse will, as always, be the major defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, which received more than $36 billion in defense-related contracts in fiscal 2015 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available). To put that figure in perspective, Lockheed Martin’s federal contracts are now larger than the budgets of 22 of the 50 states. The top 100 defense contractors received $175 billion from the Pentagon in fiscal year 2015, nearly one-third of the Department of Defense’s entire budget. These numbers will only grow if Trump gets the money he wants to build more ships, planes, tanks, and nuclear weapons”, the study noted.
A new class of nouveau riche emerged in Afghanistan – coined by Other Scripts as ‘a New Corrupt Class: Ruling through Proxy’. Someone like ‘Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan trucking-company owner’, it cited, earned more than $ 160 million while contracting for the United States military. His story was that from rags to riches”. Similarly, another person, who began as an interpreter for the western forces, got into trucking business as his contacts with them ripened. .Take Fahim Hashimy, English language teacher who owned only a bicycle is now a millionaire and owns a television company, logistics and construction companies as well as a low-cost domestic airline.
Some warlords ostensibly took up cudgels for freedom and mesmerised innocent ethnic youths to plunge into bloody misadventures. Take Gul Agha Sherzai, the warlord who had retaken the province with the help of the C.I.A. and Special Forces” became the Governor of Kandahar. “…His brother Abdul Raziq was a general in the Afghan Army, in charge of the airport. The Sherzai also controlled lucrative contracts to supply gravel to the American base, and Raziq’s company, Sherzai Construction and Supply, provided trucks to the Americans.” Americans had built an economy on sub-contracting and “Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. spent eighty-nine billion dollars on contracting in Afghanistan”
The study infers, America and its allies “have only acquired different weapons – from military stockpiles to the power of media, which presents to the world what the powers that be, want to project. The reality and truth have to be dealt with sceptically because the way media presents it to us has been question many a times. A war, which began with the farcical agenda of restoring democracy, could not do much to that effect even after thousands and thousands died over a period of time. America could neither achieve control over natural resources in Iraq nor could it win the war. It created one after the other new ghosts with missiles, grenades and automatic rifles, which came from nowhere else but from USA itself”. (IPA)