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Thread: The Next Afghan War

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    The Next Afghan War

    Pakistan's unwillingness to recognize all of the taliban as a common threat to regional stability has led to the inevitable. For the last year Islamabad has been shrill in their complaints of afghan sanctuary and NATO unwillingness to take the war against the Pakistani taliban (TTP). NATO, with their hands full of other matters (to include withdrawal) has largely turned a deaf ear to these complaints. Needless to say, Pakistan's own intransigence regarding the long-standing complaints of sanctuary for the afghan taliban and Haqqani network haven't helped generate sympathy for Islamabad's plight.

    So? What to expect down the road? Multi-level sectarian, tribal and ethnic combat within both Afghanistan and Pakistan seems likely. Worse, a low to mid-intensity conflict emerging between Afghanistan and Pakistan that could range from proxy warfare to elements of both nat'l armies employed by both sides. Here Robert Haddick expresses his prognosis. It differs little from mine.

    I've long said we can expect civil war to emerge in Afghanistan. Our departure only ends the conflict for us. OTOH, Haddick suggests (and I've suspected the same) that the Afghan government may reach out to the TTP and attempt to liaison/support their war as a counter-balance to Islamabad. This, in addition to the ANA conducting the cross-border raids that we wouldn't undergo, makes a standoff between Afghanistan and Pakistan likely.

    Would America support such an Afghan nat'l policy? Unlikely, as Haddick suggests, Obama ever envisioned subsidizing a war on Pakistan from Kabul when projecting our aid extending through 2024. OTOH, India? Supporting such may be firmly in their interests should it have the blessing of the Afghan nat'l government. Read more here-

    The Next Afghan War-Haddick Foreign Policy/SWJ
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2
    OTOH, India? Supporting such may be firmly in their interests should it have the blessing of the Afghan nat'l government.
    This takes me back to an exchange i had with Tronic in Feb.

    Tronic views future developments more modestly, a case of COIN, the real Afghan vs Talban war rather than a civil war in Afg or a standoff between Afghanistan & Pakistan fueled by India. Karzai has said he would not allow his country to be used as a base to attack another, this is akin to a no first strike policy. Whether the next Afg president sticks with that policy is an open question. it would be dictated by forthcoming developments. If the Taliban make unacceptable advances within Afg then the Afghans could very well jettison such a policy citing self-defense.

    The only path to a reasonable settlement lies through offensive action inside Pakistan. Afghans will have to be willing to go where the U.S. military (drones excepted) have feared to tread. Until the Afghan military can develop greater offensive punch, it will have to turn to proxy forces such as the Pakistani Taliban as tools to gain leverage over Islamabad.
    yep, if push comes to shove and taking into account Pak intent.

    After 2014, Pakistan should see the wisdom in wrapping up the remainder of al Qaeda and settling the conflict with Afghanistan. NATO's withdrawal will actually reduce Islamabad's leverage and expose it to more forms of pressure. Continuing the conflict will only encourage outside intervention.

    If Islamabad decides to fight on after 2014, we should expect to see a messy, multi-level conflict much like the 18th century French and Indian War. That war featured insurgencies, proxy armies, old-fashioned nation-state war, and great power intervention from the far side of the world. A similarly complicated scenario may be headed for the Durand Line. The Afghan war may be about to mutate again -- policymakers should get ready for the change.
    Haddick says the Paks have to realise they will be up against high odds if they continue post 2014.

    So why would the Paks decide to fight on ? only if they think they stand to influence things in their favour. But this isn't certain because when they were going up against the Soviets they had help from the outside. But in this case they will be very much on their own.

    So is it better for the Paks to try & lose than not try at all ?

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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    IMO,if we look at determined things,like departure dates we risk losing the big picture.It's like seeing a football team having a 2-0 advantage in 60'th minute.Quite useless,if after the 90 minutes the score is 2-3.Yes,considering 2011,2014 or 2016,NATO and ''our'' guys may have the advantage.But I'd rather have the advantage after the war is really over.Vietnam between 1972 and 1975 should serve as a good enough example.


    WRT the future war,there are a few points.First,what we call the Taliban is a product of our need to have an enemy that is clear and easy to identify.For all the hoopla about COIN,the Big Army has not really grasped the lil' thing that a lot of guys with a lot of different interests are in the fight.It's not a boxing match,it's bar brawl,where everybody is on his own.So yes,a lot of chaps will fight on the side of the **** talibans,but for reasons that have nothing to do with Islamabad's agenda.
    Second,this is A-stan.Give me a hundred millions and I'll be world famous as a warlord.Everything is for sale,and alliances are dime a dozen.Meaning that no matter what calculations the paper pushers in Washington make now,will have 0 relevancy in 2015.''Our'' guys will fight ''us'' while enemies may become our friends,for a few weeks at least.
    Third,ANA is not an an army,not national and not afghan.It obeys who pays them.Now,it's the West,but the West means in A-stan a bunch of suckers good as cash cows.If the SHTF,the ANA will break and it will start fighting each other.As a small consolation,the 202th Corps,the best unit in the whole ANA is largely made of northeners,meaning that there is a bigger chance they'll stay on our side.
    Fourth,we're assuming everybody will try to have a hand in the Afghan affair and those russians,Chinese,Iranians will twart Pak's ambitions.We're ignoring that those powers may have bigger problems to face,particularly internal ones,if the economic crisis keeps going.
    Fifth,it doesn't really matters if ''they'' control all A-stan or just a part.A-stan's importance in the big picture is that it is considered a sanctuary.We can defeat our enemies in Saudi Arabia,Iraq,Yemen,Somalia ,Egypt and so on.As long as we don't win A-stan,the fvckers won't admit defeat.

    Sixth,the idea that US or the West in general should support Kabul is a false one,IMO.Kabul is just that,or even just a few neighborhoods.On paper it sounds impressive:US Gov& GIROA have decided.... In practice this is nothing,or worse,it's negative.
    Last edited by Mihais; 07 Jul 12, at 23:07.
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    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    I think in the next war Afghanistan fractures along ethnic lines more or less. But the Pakistan / Afghanistan war may fracture Pakistan as well. Ergo certain provinces near the top may de facto be in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan respectively with their respective ethnicities but de jure in Afghanistan. Especially once the railroad interconnect is finished.

    My feeling they will never leave outright because there is less economic meddling in Afghanistan as it is now or likely to be in future. The fracture of Pakistan will be very real with 15-20+ mil people in essence that would like to re-attach to Afghanistan since they are pushtuns and Afghanistan culture is more tribal integrationalist than Pakistan I think. Not sure.
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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    If I want to make you eat crap,at least I can provide a few roses to improve the smell.They call this diplomacy.In it's current form,this is a war that was either a decade too long or a decade too short.
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    I fint it unconvincing that the Afghan government and TTP could find common ground against Pakistan given that TTP, at least on the surface, swears allegiance to Mullah Omar. Not to mention that TTP factions supply recruits to wage war against Afghanistan. A more likely scenario would be greater Afghan interest in the Baloch rebellion. But how much tangible support Afghanistan could (or would even be willing to) offer Baloch rebels is open to debate.

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    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    To hear all the dire predictions of civil war, post US pullout, it's hard to imagine the Afghanistan government doing more than fighting to preserve itself.
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    S2,

    I've long said we can expect civil war to emerge in Afghanistan. Our departure only ends the conflict for us. OTOH, Haddick suggests (and I've suspected the same) that the Afghan government may reach out to the TTP and attempt to liaison/support their war as a counter-balance to Islamabad. This, in addition to the ANA conducting the cross-border raids that we wouldn't undergo, makes a standoff between Afghanistan and Pakistan likely.

    Would America support such an Afghan nat'l policy? Unlikely, as Haddick suggests, Obama ever envisioned subsidizing a war on Pakistan from Kabul when projecting our aid extending through 2024. OTOH, India? Supporting such may be firmly in their interests should it have the blessing of the Afghan nat'l government. Read more here-
    considering what the TTP has done against india, somehow i have my doubts that india will support an afghanistan trying to use the TTP as a proxy.
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    Senior Contributor Mihais's Avatar
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    On the other hand,TTP without Pakistan is not as potent, payback is a b!tch and revenge has a sweet taste.
    Those who know don't speak
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36

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    Afghanistan doesn't necessarily have to actively support the TTP. Simply failing to actively prosecute base-camps on the Afghan side of the border or, for that matter, turning a blind eye (get it?) to such can pay back Pakistan, literally, in kind. 1980s, your point about TTP/GIROA is noted and accurate. Your thoughts about the Baloch insurgency are interesting and plausible.

    In either case Pakistan has already screamed to the high heavens about both. What's Afghanistan got to lose?
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
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    Contributor 1980s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    Afghanistan doesn't necessarily have to actively support the TTP. Simply failing to actively prosecute base-camps on the Afghan side of the border or, for that matter, turning a blind eye (get it?) to such can pay back Pakistan, literally, in kind. 1980s, your point about TTP/GIROA is noted and accurate. Your thoughts about the Baloch insurgency are interesting and plausible.

    In either case Pakistan has already screamed to the high heavens about both. What's Afghanistan got to lose?
    I agree with the article's suggestion that a more conventional military confrontation between them is not far-fetched. Border clashes could easily escalate into something bigger and the Afghans have long been itching for a fight with their antagonistic neighbour. Of course, the Afghan army would be at a disadvantage although geography favours Afghanistan from a conventional military threat from the subcontinent.

    Would the Chinese stand by quietly and watch it happen is another question. They've been engaging Kabul on proposals (i believe some are actually agreed upon already) for various economic and aid projects, all of them looking to be long-term Chinese investments (copper mines, gas and oil exploration, pipelines, railways).

    In any case, i think Afghanistan has much less to lose in any confrontation, and its fair-play to them if they turn a blind eye to the TTP and Baloch rebels taking refuge in Afghan territory.

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    A TIME interview with former Soviet soldiers who compare their withdrawal to the impending american one.

    Hidden in Afghanistan: Soviet Veterans of a Previous War Compare and Tremble | TIME | July 9, 2012

    “When the Soviet army left it was peaceful until the Soviet government stopped giving the Afghan communist government money. When the money stopped, the war started. Everyone only fights and works for money. People do everything for money.”
    Afghan aid isn't going to immediately stop coming into Afghanistan after 2014 and then there are the mining contracts so any war looks to be some time off into the future.
    Last edited by Double Edge; 12 Jul 12, at 03:24.

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    Global Moderator Defense Professional JAD_333's Avatar
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    Michael Semple recently met with a long-time Taliban official. NPR aired an interview with him today. He speaks about the possibility of a civil war. A full report on the meeting will be available in New Statesman soon.

    Here's a preview: New Statesman - Preview: Michael Semple interviews a senior member of the Taliban
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    A Self Important Senior Contributor troung's Avatar
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    “when the soviet army left it was peaceful until the soviet government stopped giving the afghan communist government money. When the money stopped, the war started. Everyone only fights and works for money. People do everything for money.”
    wtf?
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