Saturday, October 08, 2011

The 20 year war in Afghanistan and the failure of regime change

Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the start of the American invasion of Afghanistan. A decade into what's already this country's longest war, former US commander of NATO forces in the country (retired) Gen. Stanley McChrystal says that the mission in Afghanistan is only half done

The Guardian article added: McChrystal said the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq less than two years after entering Afghanistan made the Afghan effort more difficult. "I think they were made more difficult, clearly," he said, because the Iraq invasion "changed the Muslim world's view of America's effort..."

He pointed out that, as is so often the case in the United States' clumsy foreign policy decisions, everyone involved "had a very superficial understanding of the situation and [Afghan] history" and culture and that US forces did not make an attempt to learn the country's languages -- not a task one would normally expect of soldiers but critical to any successful nation building.

The morass in Afghanistan is so deep that the country's president Hamid Karzai, took a (very brief) break from blaming Pakistan, to admit his own government's miserable failure in the security realm.

Speaking of the topic, this essay in The Boston Review points out that, despite supposedly altruistic reasons and despite widespread bipartisan support most of the time, US-imposed regime change simply doesn't work... at least not for the people of the 'helped' country in question.

Americans tend to personalize their conflicts. Almost every target of U.S. intervention in the post-Cold War world has been labeled another Hitler... Since the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the United States has become the world’s foremost practitioner of regime change... 

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