Little is said
by Juan Gelman
The alarms of economic European crisis, the ups and downs of the euro, Greece’s departure of the Euro zone, the Hollande/Merkel clash on how to overcome the situation by merging oil and water, or austerity and development, the summit meetings of the heads of state of the Union, shaken by the protests, have silenced a no small feat: US and NATO’s unspoken confession of defeat in Afghanistan.
In happened in the Chicago Summit, when the leaders of NATO adopted Obama’s position and signed a “Transition Treaty” that is presented as conducive to the irreversible fall-back of its troops from the Asian country in the second half of 2013, leaving the security measures in the hands of the locals. As it happens in Europe most of the public opinion in the United States is opposed to continuing the conflict, which is considered to be over since the death of Bin Laden. And Obama is struggling due to his re-election in the midst of electoral year: this way, he will then keep his promise of retiring the troops by 2014.
The new Treaty is practically the same to the one adopted by the NATO heads of state summit, which took place in Lisbon on November 18 and 19 of 2010, although only one different detail: over two weeks before the Chicago summit, during a quick unannounced trip to Kabul, Obama signed an agreement with Afghan President Karzai “to cover the decade following the troops’ final fall-back in 2014”. The terms of this deal are not yet public and the White House occupant clarified that the troops will not fall back, but will only be in charge of “training the Afghan forces and to fight terrorism, but will not build permanent bases in the country, nor will they patrol its mountains and cities”. It is a curious victory: the United States will continue the war for another ten years. For now.
Obama’s declarations remind us of W. Bush, when he said “mission accomplished” in May 2003 when Saddam Husein was overthrown: The US’ and NATO’s effectives stayed another 8 years and not all left.This experience perhaps advised the White House that is was preferable to extend the combat previsions for another decade, since violence in Afghanistan has increased in 2011, the fifth year in a row: the number of diseased Afghan civilians was increased over 15% in the first half of the year, suicidal attacks were intensified and the Taliban’s’ efforts to fight the invaders have not ceased.
A National Intelligence Evaluation was performed by the US’ National Intelligence Council, which groups the 16 organs which believe that the fighting is on a dead point: “corruption, the Afghan government’s ineffectiveness and the operations launched by the Taliban from Pakistan, have mined the ground won by the increase of the US troops in 2009.
Obama himself admitted in Chicago that Talibans are stills “strong enemies” and that what NATO accomplished in the battle field is frail. So, Afghanistan will be occupied one way or the other until 2024.
There is more than one problem in the midst of NATO. The decision to withdraw all the French troops from the Asian country at the end of the year, which socialist President Francois Hollande announced keeping a promise made during elections, but which does not apply to what was agreed in Chicago, so it is a challenge to Obama and NATO. On the other hand, the United States finances 85 percent of the war and presses the European allies in economic crisis to increase their contribution.
The main problem is that the war goes on in spite of the Pentagon’s pessimist announces. General John Allen, commander of all the installed troops in Afghanistan, declared that the United States will use “significant firepower” in the 2012-2013 period. “We will need combat capacity – he said – and I don’t think anyone World question that. I owe the President and realist analysis on the subject.” The General is on the grounds and knows what he is saying.