What is a war without consequences? After being accused of supporting terrorism during the Libyan airstrikes and bombing of the libya in 2011, can the Obama Administration secure its position by claiming to support other wars without condemning them?
Current US policy in Afghanistan consists of three fold.
Afghanistan appears to be a cold war cold war in which the Obama Administration – an aggressor – seeks to show its militancy. During military engagement against forces currently known as ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the US has tried to use two techniques: advocating that it only kills terrorists but not civilians, and equivocating that there is not a “war” going on.
War is warfare, not something people try to avoid, so we have a bona fide “war” going on.
When it comes to Afghanistan, the United States’ responsibility does not end at the border of our own territory. To those in the areas affected by the Taliban or ISIS, US military operations target unarmed civilians. Taliban suicide attacks kill teachers and textbooks in education programs; ISIS attacks Christians who run schools and mosques; both terrorist organizations target US soldiers.
This coalition violence has killed tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of US troops have suffered casualties from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and insurgent attacks. What is worse, according to recent studies, IEDs kill approximately 7,500 civilians a year in Afghanistan and many more in Iraq. This represents more than ten percent of all civilian deaths caused by terrorism in the last twelve years.
The US foreign policy problem in Afghanistan is that the “just war” concept does not exist anymore, given how destructive ISIS and the Taliban have been to the people of Afghanistan and how easy it is to get weapons there. There has never been a military engagement there that did not result in large scale harm to civilian populations, and it is unlikely that this will change any time soon.
According to the UN, about 80% of the violence against civilians is done by anti-government insurgents, while in Pakistan and Syria, they claim they are fighting ISIS. So far the strategy of pretending not to be a war has yielded no results.
The other way the US military manipulates public opinion is to “fight al-Qaida with al-Qaida.” This reduces any criticisms of the war to “anidealistic” beliefs that al-Qaida is a terrorist organization that has a great need to be defeated. The idea is that this justification is somewhat similar to the argument that the war in Iraq could have been avoided with better intelligence and better leadership.
The Obama Administration will possibly receive the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow, or it may not. What is clear is that it needs to choose a strategy to stop murdering tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. That strategy could be the same as the strategy that the Bush Administration used to wage war on Iraq: give the impression of a just war but little chance of success. However, this one is harder: it depends on the community’s perception of the dangers it faces, unlike the case of “losing to terrorists” is less shameful than a total failure to curb terrorism. This could be settled at the peak of Iraqi and Iraqi civilian suffering.
The only thing consistent with the events of 2013 is that the violence of the US-Afghanistani war will be getting worse, despite the presidential nomination. In fact, it seems that the Trump Administration – an aggressor – has applied the same strategy as the Obama Administration, without changing its mind. The enemy has no intentions of weakening and can hardly find a target suitable for its use.