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Current U.S. strategy in Afghanistan

Introduction

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For many years, Afghanistan has, due to its lawlessness and impunity, served as a haven for deadly terrorist groups such as the al-Qaeda. These terrorist groups pose a real threat to world peace and security, as has been evidenced by various terrorist bombings and insurgences in various parts of the world such as the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle East. On September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda jihadists hijacked four passenger planes and deliberately crashed two of them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, while the third was crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania. None of the passengers in any of the four flights survived. Nearly 3,000 innocent people died in these attacks and many more were injured. The U.S. responded to this attack by declaring a war on terror and to this effect invaded Afghanistan in October 2001.

Analysis

Afghanistan was the base for terrorist groups and is where the 9/11 attacks had been plotted by the al-Qaeda headed by Osama bin Laden. Hence, by invading Afghanistan, the U.S. intended to dismantle terrorist activity[1]. Terrorist groups thrived in Afghanistan because the government was led by Taliban forces that protected and supported the Al-Qaeda group. They believed in the al-Qaeda philosophy that Muslims would take over the world. The Al-Qaeda also had their training bases in Afghanistan, where they recruited new members and trained them extensively on warfare. The U.S. policy on Afghanistan was that it would not differentiate between terrorist groups and governments that sheltered them.

Since 9/11, there have been several other terrorist attacks all over the world by the al-Qaeda and other radical Muslim groups. Additionally, there have also been several other planned attacks that have failed. Therefore, the threat posed by terrorists is real and cannot be ignored. Due to this constant threat posed by the global terrorist groups, the U.S. government requires sound strategies and policies to guide them in combating terrorism and promoting world peace[2]. Thus, the U.S. policy in Afghanistan has been to eject the Taliban government, get rid of the Al-Qaeda and destroy their training camps. Additionally, the U.S. also wanted to democratize Afghanistan, which for a long time had been governed by an oppressive and anarchic Taliban government. Even before the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government had shown its opposition to the Taliban regime. In August 2001, the U.S. government implemented an anti-terrorism policy in support of anti-Taliban forces. It was agreed that the Taliban and anti-Taliban forces would negotiate where the ultimatum would be that the Taliban regime hands over Osama bin Laden and other leaders of al-Qaeda. Failure to surrender the al-Qaeda leaders would resort to the use of forceful methods by the US.

The U.S. policy of War on Terror was important after the 9/11 attacks because terrorist groups would have become more emboldened if the U.S. had not taken a tough stance. Failure to respond to the terrorist attacks would have been translated as weakness and vulnerability by the terrorist groups. The U.S. went into a war against terrorism because it was inevitable. A nation should take all the necessary measures to ensure the peace and security of its people. After the success of the 9/11 attacks, terrorist groups were motivated to launch even bigger attacks on the U.S and its allies.

The U.S.’s primary strategy in Afghanistan is to undermine terrorism by implementing political reforms, destabilizing and eliminating al-Qaeda forces and promoting national reconciliation. This strategy and policy is important because it protects the U.S and its allies from the threat posed by global terrorism. Currently the U.S. combat strategy in Afghanistan is referred to as Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO), whereas initially it was referred to as ‘War on Terror’. The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan was also to find Osama bin Laden and other key leaders of the al-Qaeda terrorist group

It is a strategy of necessity as the risk of terrorism remains high. The strategy was implemented through an alliance between the U.S. Armed Forces, British Armed Forces and Afghan United Front in a military operation known as Operation Enduring Freedom In the first phase of the war, they managed to eject the Taliban government from power in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul and most other parts of the country. By 2004, the U.S. had managed to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban regime, and elections were held where Hamid Karzai was elected president. Moreover, a new constitution was formed and passed.

Explanations for policies, issue, or systems

The current U.S. strategies in Afghanistan are to implement political reform, eliminate Taliban forces and capture all the al-Qaeda leaders and strong adherents. In addition to this, it also aims to rebuild and reconstruct the torn nation and provide the country with an opportunity for national reconciliation. . The U.S. government seeks to prevent Afghanistan from returning to its old ways of political instability and civil war, which in turn would affect the neighboring countries, and thus threaten world peace.

Afghanistan’s main problem is the rampant corruption by the ruling elite. The corrupt leaders insidiously support the Taliban insurgencies and hamper the government’s efforts to restore Afghanistan to democracy and peace[3]. The government’s structure is also weak, a factor that makes it vulnerable to Taliban attacks and possibly a takeover. The Taliban forces are too strong and resilient for the Afghanistan government; hence, it still requires the support of the U.S. in order to enhance stability. In 2010, U.S. President Barrack Obama deployed 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. The aim of this strategy was to maintain military presence in Afghanistan in order to protect and support the government from Taliban insurgence and takeover. Additionally, civilians have also been deployed to Afghanistan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and to assist in restructuring the government and civil-society.

In order to suppress revolts and attacks by the Taliban forces, the U.S. has remained in Afghanistan even after the war. The Taliban forces target both the government and civilians; therefore, the U.S. needs to support Afghanistan until it is ready to be independent. It is for this reason that the U.S. has to withdraw from Afghanistan gradually and tactfully. The U.S. government plans to start withdrawing U.S troops in July 2011 in order to reduce the country’s dependence on U.S. protection and hence make it more independent. By 2014, the U.S. government aims to have withdrawn all its forces from Afghanistan. The U.S. also aims to train, arm and increase the Afghanistan security forces in order to empower them to be independent once the U.S forces leave their country. To this effect, the U.S. security forces in Afghanistan have collaborated with the Afghanistan army and police in order to train them adequately on how to protect their country.

The U.S realizes that Afghanistan is a fragile state and therefore its strategy has been to protect it from attack and help it develop economically and politically[4] The U.S.’s current policy is to develop Afghanistan’s infrastructure, justice system and commercial sector, in order to provide more opportunities for Afghans and thus reduce poverty. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. has deployed specialists such as educators, lawyers, agricultural experts, engineers and doctors, to equip Afghans with the necessary knowledge and assist in rebuilding the country. The U.S. has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan in order to achieve these goals.

The U.S. also aims to reconcile the Afghanistan people with each other. After years of civil war, the country has been left divided and vulnerable; there is tension and suspicion amongst the Afghans. The U.S. plans to achieve its reconciliation policy by collaborating with the government and local leaders to advocate for reconciliation in every region of Afghanistan[5]. The ultimate goal is to enhance Afghanistan’s economic and political stability, and turn it into a country that upholds human rights for people of all genders and ages

The United States main policy in Afghanistan is to weed out all terrorist groups and stop the country from becoming a base for terrorist activities. The leader of the al-Qaeda movement, Osama bin Laden was captured and killed in Pakistan on 30th April 2011, therefore the U.S. strategy has made significant progress towards its goal of dismantling the al Qaeda forces.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the current U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is right, and this is evidenced by the fact that it is making progress towards rooting out the al-Qaeda and Taliban forces. On May 1, 2011, the infamous leader of the al-Qaeda terrorism movement, Osama bin Laden was captured and killed, almost 10 years after the 9/11 attacks. The U.S. strategy has greatly reduced terrorist activities and made a significant contribution to the enhancement of world peace. However, the presence of the U.S. in Afghanistan has only made it more dependent on economic and military aid, hence a poorer and more vulnerable nation. The U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan and let other expert international parties such as the United Nations and NATO take over the process of peacekeeping and eliminating terrorist groups.

Bibliography

Gunaratna, Rohan. Inside Al Qaeda: global network of terror. New York: C. Hurst, 2002.

Hussain, Rizwan. Pakistan and the emergence of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan. New York: Ashgate, 2005.

Kane, Michael. Did Al Qaeda or Bush Start the War in Afghanistan? Last modified 03 October 2006. http://rereason.blogspot.com/2006/10/did-al-qaeda-or-bush-start-war-in.html

Lee, Jesse. A New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Last modified 12 May 2011. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/03/27/A-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/

Rubin, Barnett. “Taliban Resurgent.” Saving Afghanistan 57 (2007): 57-64.

Wilson, James and DiIulio, John. American government: institutions and policies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 2008.

[1] Rizwan Hussain, Pakistan and the emergence of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan (New York: Ashgate), 56-58.

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