Posted on December 26th, 2009

By: Bassam Javed

Afghanistan has been the battle ground for many outside invaders since centuries but none could prevail therein. The resolute Afghans have always resisted foreign occupation and the respective misadventures turned into “graveyard of empires” over time. The latest in the list is the United States of America, the only super power that invaded Afghanistan in 2001 on the pretext that the planning of the attacks on the “ƒ”¹…”World Trade centre’ was done here in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been annihilated since despite the fact that none of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack was from Afghanistan. The stated mission to invade Afghanistan was to dismantle Al-Qaeda network in order to ensure that the place is no more used by the network for planning or carrying out any more attacks on the United States and the West and render Afghanistan as an inhospitable base for extremists groups. The strength of the US forces has been propped up from time to time and today, there are around 68000 American boots are deployed in Afghanistan with 30000 more set to augment their physical strength their soon as part of a new strategy announced by US President Obama to stabilize and succeed in its mission in Afghanistan.

Whether US can in any way succeed in achieving its aim amid ever rising resistance by the Taliban remains to be seen. With the intended surge in US forces in very near future, the critics foresee more casualties on both sides wherein the sufferings of ordinary Afghans will only rise whereas the US gains minimal. For them, any outcome other than defeat in America’s eight year long war in Afghanistan looms large and the issue remains under discussion of the subject experts. They cite the failure of American strategic planners to benefit from the lessons drawn from various foreign campaigns in Afghanistan while deciding on Afghanistan. The last one being the Russian campaign in Afghanistan that also lasted nearly a decade but failed with deaths of over 20000 of its young soldiers and Russian humility at the hands of Mujahedeen, now renamed as Taliban.


There are off course some fundamental differences between the Russian and the American campaigns in Afghanistan. The former intervened in Afghanistan to save a faltering communist regime that was in extreme danger of a collapse due to its unpopular social changes in the very Afghan fabric and the latter intervened therein to wage a war on terror. The Soviet army involvement in Afghanistan was a total war wherein it immensely suffered in terms of its men and material. Amid failure to counter the Mujahideen onslaughts backed by the American CIA with arms and financing, the Russians had unleashed unmatched violence on Afghan populace in revenge. The Americans are confronted with a robust insurgency therein Afghanistan with lot of foreign fighters taking on the occupational forces side by side with immense collateral damage in terms of Afghan lives and property. Whether it is Russian involvement or the American over the last twenty years, Afghanistan continues to suffer and remains destabilized to-date.


In 1989 when the Soviet troops finally pulled out of Afghanistan it was widely assumed that the Mujahideen, now called Taliban, would remove Mohammad Najibullah government from power immediately. But that did not happen and the regime under Najibullah continued in the driving seat for some time giving an impression that Soviets probably were successful in installing a government in Kabul that could sustain itself after their final withdrawal. Najibullah had skillfully roped in regional leaders and in some cases former Mujahideen to join the Afghan army and to work with his government to defend Afghanistan’s interests. However, with the dismemberment of the Soveit Union in December 1991, a series of defections in the Afghan army took place. There were immediate shifts in the Afghan leaders’ allegiances that ultimately brought the downfall of Najibullah’s regime.

Soviet General Victor Vermakov, a former Deputy Defence Minister and the one who commanded Soviet Union’s 40th army in Afghanistan from May 1982 to November 1983 when asked on what difference would putting in an additional 30000 US troops make opined, “I can only see one: Obama will be more often going to the airport to pay his last respects to the soldiers killed in Afghanistan.” There is a famous saying that: “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” The United States apparently failed on that count and shied away from some facts: One that there is no stopping a people who are determined to liberate their land from any foreign occupation, especially under an inspired leader. French occupation of Indo-China (Vietnam) from 1887 until 1946 tells us that. Two, never confront the tribes/ soldiers who are battle hardened and inspired to liberate them from the clutches of occupiers. French used Algerian soldiers in Indo-China who became battle hardened and got inspired from the resistance there and used it for their own liberation from France later. Third, the Russians invaded Afghanistan to support a communist regime and promised provision of schools, doctors and infrastructure, none of which materialized and they had to quit Afghanistan in humility. Fourth, the United States itself went through Vietnam experience but failed to apply the lessons learnt in Afghan who possess deep rooted culture of war.

President Obama has declared that the threats posed by the two wars i.e. Vietnam and Afghanistan do not match. According to him the Vietnamese communists were passionately determined to unify their own country whereas in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda purportedly threatens American beliefs in freedom and liberty. He may be right but there are some similarities in the two theatres of war. China, Japan and the United States tried to subjugate the Vietnamese but they all failed in their respective endeavors. Similarly Afghanistan and its rugged people subverted the imperial ambitions of Alexander the Great, the British, the Soviets and are now in the process of doing the same with Americans. Although the two wars, i.e. Vietnam and the Afghan, are separated by decades and different national interests yet, comparing the two draws almost similar outcomes. The Taliban receive help from abroad in terms of men and material in their fight against the foreign forces in their country. The communists in Vietnam received help from USSR and China in terms of finance and arms. The difference is that the help received by Taliban is much less when compared with the one that the Vietnamese communists received. Most Westerners did not understand the communists’ goals in Vietnam whereas in Afghanistan most of them understand Talibans’ goal.

Today, with over 20 years of war, Afghanistan is in shambles. The country is divided into several bastions of power and anarchy reins in much of the county side. With the surge in US forces of 30000, the strength of allied forces surpasses a hefty figure of 100000 soldiers of allied forces and the US supplemented by another 85000 Afghan soldiers and 80000 Afghan police, making the prognosis for peace in the immediate future in Afghanistan pretty bleak. Besides the disagreement among the various factions over holding of power, constant competition among outside states, especially of those that do not share the borders with Afghanistan for increasing their respective influence therein, has also added to Afghan instability. No outside power has ever been able to win in Afghanistan militarily. So, in order to end the Afghan conflict on a saner note Americans must talk Taliban out to a ceasefire agreement with the allied forces and against each other, the establishment of a broadly acceptable interim government in Kabul, the disarming and integration of the militias into a national army, the faster pace of reconstruction of Afghanistan’s infrastructure and its economy, the resettlement of refugees and the reestablishment of the civil society and the enforcement of rule of the law. Continuation of the war would cause annihilation and only evoke resistance further as the Afghans have always taken war as an attempt to enslave them.


  1. Sri Rohana Says:

    Dear Javad
    It’s a great article about the NATO imperialist and their puppets (Australia, Japan, Korea etc) invasion of Afghanistan. What right or what sort of justice they have to invade an independent country? Are we living in 21st century or still 15th –19th century imperialist world?
    These American, British, French, German, Norwegian, Australian, Canadian, Italian – Caucasian Christian fundamentalists think that this world belongs to them. They behave with their feudalist mentality. They think that they only know everything and others have to listen and obey to their commands.
    What the hell UNO and the Security Council is doing? What about trade embargoes against America, Britain and other NATO puppets? I never heard of Ban Ki Moon utter a word about this invasion? Is he deaf and dumb on Afghanistan issue? Where are you BBC and CNN? Those who can see everything in the world but never seen they report of NATO invasion, human rights or civilian casualties? Where are the French doctors sans frontier? Reporters sans frontier? Where are the Human Right Organizations? Where are the NGO’s? Where is Amnesty International? Their agenda is to collect much as $ from NATO masters? Shame Shame!
    When Sri Lanka fights against barbarian terrorist LTTE to protect their country all those were highly worried about terrorist? They threaten to independent state of Sri Lanka to stop defeat the terrorists.
    Mr. Javad exposes NATO invaders whenever you get a chance. Please tell world how many afghan civilians slaughtered by NATO invaded forces? Long-live Afghan freedom fight! “Light at least a candle rather than live in dark”.

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