The 21st Century Phenomenon



President Barack Obama delivered a 10 minutes speech on terrorism at the National Counterterrorism Center, on Tuesday 10/06/2009, without ever once mentioning Afghanistan – a place he and other Democrats just recently held should be the central focus of the war on terror.

“We know that al Qaeda and its extremist allies threaten us from different corners of the globe – from Pakistan, but also from East Africa and Southeast Asia, from Europe and the Gulf,” he said.

Obama’s speech is an indication of the general confusion about the war in Afghanistan and the first sign that USA is giving up on the Taliban in Afghanistan and refocuses on Al Qaeda in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, on both sides of the border.

The hopes to turn the general elections in Afghanistan, on 08/20/2009, to a milestone in building a democratic legitimate regime in Afghanistan turned out to be a fiasco that undermines the legitimacy of the Afghan president Hamid Karzai rather then to strengthen his status as the Afghan president. It seems that NATO and USA finally understood that transforming Afghanistan to a democracy-like state was “one bridge too far” (see – THE-SHOW).

President Obama is now facing three basic options in regard of the war in Afghanistan:


A.  The McChrystal option to reinforce the USA troops in Afghanistan with additional 40,000 soldiers, to focus on the hearts and minds of the local Afghani population and to provide them with sense of security. Gen. Stanley McChrystal strategy is controversial since it does not focus on the crucial Afghan Pakistani border and on the offensive, it needs huge resources, will take a long period of time to implement and to show some progress if at all, while the public support in USA to the war is draining out fast. It seems that Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself is loosing support in Washington and became a burden to the decision makers (see – Wrong Strategy).


B. The Biden option, USA vice President Joe Biden, once a key supporter of the war in Afghanistan, changed his mind dramatically and gave up on the ambition to form Afghanistan to a stable, uncorrupted regime. He also recognizes the degree of the integration between the Taliban and the Pashtu tribes. V.P Joe Biden suggests a gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan and gradually to reduce the interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. He suggests to focus the war on Al Qaeda by boosting the intelligence effort and cooperation with Pakistan, to attack Al Qaeda from distance mainly by UAV drones and by surgical raids of Special Forces. A similar model is already conducted in Somalia (see – Barawe Raid). Its advantages are that the option is inexpensive and can be executed for many years in a very low footprint. The main problem of that option is the prospect that the Taliban will regain full control on large areas of Afghanistan and will soon integrate Al Qaeda into its ordinary daily life not only in the border regions but much deeper into Afghanistan, so it will be much more difficult to target just Al Qaeda as such (see – American Complexity )..


C. The Karzai option. The Afghan president offered, more then once, to integrate the Taliban into the Afghan regime and to share power with them so the Taliban will also benefit from USA sources and will be a part of the system rather then a firm opposition (see – Karzai’s Peace offer). Hamid Karzai also predicted that such an offer will divide the Taliban over the issue and at least some segments might accept the offer. The Taliban already stated that they are willing to discus the idea only after the last foreign troop will leave the country. But the Taliban is an alliance of bitter rivalries, who fought each other in the Afghan civil war in the years 1992-2001, and the final word of some factions in the Taliban is yet to be said. Indeed a White House anonymous official wrote, on Thursday 10/08/2009, in a classified e-mail, that USA might accept such an idea providing that extremists would not be allowed to regain sufficient strength to control the country or offer support to Al Qaeda. But there is no way to control the degree of Taliban integration into the Afghan regime without a foreign constant intervention into the Afghani internal affairs.


All indications are that McChrystal option is the list relevant in Washington and the decision will be, probably, a combination of Biden option and Karzai option. But the key to any success is the Pakistani notorious intelligence ISI (see – New-Move).
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