Though few Americans may give it much thought, the country remains at war in Afghanistan. The war has already cost the lives of 2,192 American service members with the financial costs running in the hundreds of billions of dollars. And with that expending of blood and treasure has come next to nothing in tangible results in the so-called War on Terror.
So now, much like Iraq, the US is preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan having embarrassed itself once again before the world. Al Qaeda has long since moved on (over 10 years ago) with one of the reported perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, being found not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan. Living in relative comfort and security a few miles from a major Pakistani military training center.
No one seems to have a valid explanation as to why the US and NATO are killing people in Afghanistan currently. The only explanation given for anything related to US military action in Afghanistan is the alleged need to keep the killing machine going for fear that Al Qaeda will retake the country and use it as a base, maybe.
Meanwhile, in the 10 years since Al Qaeda left Afghanistan they have engaged in skirmishes throughout other parts of the Middle East and Africa. The biggest victory Al Qaeda has had since leaving Afghanistan is taking control of sections of Syria where, ironically, they have benefited from US support. Yes, isn’t the world fun?
This is the context within which peace talks have been taking place between the Taliban of Afghanistan and members of the US backed Karzai government and allies. The Taliban are not engaging in international terrorism or jihad they are the local fundamentalist warlords of Afghanistan and are barely distinguishable from many other warlords of Afghanistan and meagerly dissimilar from the Kabul based government of President Hamid Karzai. Though Karzai’s family have more power in the international heroin business.
So as America looks to withdraw and peace talks take place between the Afghanistan Taliban and Karzai government - the US government orders a drone strike on a major figure in the Pakistani Taliban enraging both the Afghanistan Taliban and Pakistani government.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Monday an attack that killed the Pakistani Taliban leader was justifiable but added Washington was sensitive to Pakistan’s concerns, after Islamabad denounced the raid as a blow to peace talks.
Hakimullah Mehsud, who took over as the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban in 2009, was killed on Friday, along with three others, in a U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan, security and Taliban sources said. The Pakistani government denounced Mehsud’s killing as a U.S. bid to derail peace talks and summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday to complain. Some politicians called for blocking U.S. military supply lines into Afghanistan.
Why would the US do this if not to derail the peace talks?
As long as the country ignores the war in Afghanistan perhaps the Obama Administration and Pentagon are calculating they can stay longer than the supposed 2014 deadline. Is this genuinely an attempt to sabotage the peace talks and provide a pretext for continued US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Photo by US Air Force under public domain.