From Major Amin. As most readers know by now, I am not a fan of this kind of realpolitik because I am too faint-hearted to be this cynical about thousands of Afghans being sold down the river, but the world is a nasty and brutish place and in the big picture, who knows… Anyway, the style of the American withdrawal and their general performance in Afghanistan for 20 years does not inspire much confidence, but if there is some method to this madness, it is probably this.. by the way, I would like to ask Major Amin if his assessment is in any way affected by the utter chaos and incompetence of the withdrawal itself? (see my postscript at the end)
Major Amin also sent this text version. Please ignore any typos or formatting issues. After repeating the assertion he makes in his podcast (that the US has made a brilliant strategic move), he has attached his 2008 piece, which does accurately describe/predict the strategic quagmire the US had settled into in 2008, and suggests the response that Major Amin believes the US has now decided to pursue. Comments welcome. What follows is from Major sahib.
They can’t touch the _____t of America but Such a large concentration of nuts will certainly disturb Iran Russia and even china and PAKISTANS establishment is also not exactly happy .as insiders report—The Billion dollar question is that with 2500 Americans in Afghanistan, since last few months no Taliban advance but now a sudden emergence .clearly a secret agreement has been made.
A QUESTION: WHY THE USA deliberately created weakest afghan army with
(1) no tanks
(2) no artillery
(3) all seasoned officers of old army never allowed or dismissed
Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: Taliban and their future
Listen to the another recent episode of my podcast: AMIN SAIKAL’S STRATEGIC NAIEVETTE ABOUT AFGHANISTAN
US WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN WILL BE BEST PUNISHMENT AND A LOVELY WAY TO DESTABILISE THE REGION AND CREATE MANY NEW STATES-
A 2008 ASSESSMENT
WAR IS NOT ABOUT ETHICS GOD IS NEITHER WITH US NOR WITH THEM
THERE IS NOTHING INEVITABLE IN HISTORY
USA MUST RECONSIDER ITS STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ OR ITS CULMINATING POINT MAY NOT BE FAR AWAY.
USA MUST RECONSIDER ITS STRATEGY IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ
In the last seven years or so the USA at the strategic, operational and tactical level has became the laughing stock of the world. Starting from the premise that both USA’s total failure or total success would not be good for world peace, one may state with confidence that the USA needs to seriously re- consider its strategy in both Iraq and Afghanistan and worldwide.
The present situation is that the USA is making the major effort while its NATO allies less Britain are just pretending that they are also pushing the bogged down vehicle. This is true for both Iraq and Afghanistan. If this continues China and Russia will have the last laugh.
Lets assume that 9/11 was the major historical development done by non US actors, whether a state actor/s or a non state actor/s , taking advantage of which the USA initiated a NEW PLAN BARBAROSSA or a NEW FINAL SOLUTION to deal with the multiple issues of energy resources, Islamic extremism and containing the rise of China and containing Russia’s reassertion and regeneration. But the US policy makers did not accurately assess the responses of their stated and unstated opponents. They failed to give due account to the important aspect that the enemy or other parties, whether non state or state actors, have an independent will. When the USA occupied Afghanistan ,Russia brilliantly adapted. Renewing and putting extra investment in their old Parchami and Mujahid allies in Afghanistan (Note that the Mujahids had been seriously penetrated and converted by 1985 as far as many sizeable groups were concerned), the Russians contained US influence in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and countered it in Kirgizistan with a rival Soviet base.
The Iranians did not budge or blink. US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan presented a golden target for Islamists in getting a really swift short cut to paradise .The USA did not make use of the smaller ethnicities like Baloch or Kurd. They continued to rely on the multi ethnic larger states and were deceived and robbed of many billion US dollars. Iraq was not pacified and its situation to date is unstable and unpredictable. Iran was strengthened in the process, with a Shia regime in Iraq. Another Shia regime in Syria, unchallenged and dealt with by the USA, and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. In short the USA landed into a long term strategic stalemate. A sitting duck target which can be attacked by guerrila forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its a matter of time befoe the anti US forces acquire SAM missiles. And once this happens the USA would have to rely on greater troop levels which would be costly and financially very very draining.
In case of Pakistan the USA again failed to achieve any of its objectives. If there were any. Pakistan was not denuclearised. Its non state actors were not pacified. And above all the team which the USA had handpicked in Pakistan failed to deliver. China remains healthy and growing. Russia is now riposting the USA in Georgia and Ukraine and covertly at many places. In short in seven years of war and with heavy expenses the USA achieved little. Afghanistan was not reconstructed but the seeds of its Balkanization firmly planted.
All US money went to US contractors or smaller contractors from Turkey, Lebanon, South Korea and Afghanistan. Instead of shifting troops to Afghanistan or enlarge the war to Iran or Pakistan the USA needs to re-think its entire strategy. Some key features of a new strategy may be :–
1-Withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan while retaining bases in the Gulf/Pakistan/Saudi Arabia.
2-Instead of fighting the Al Qaeda or Taliban directly , give them a chance to once again become state actors and present both Russia and China a serious threat.
3-Retain international goodwill by acting as a power which stands for peace.
4-Make the regional actors do the job of making the world a safer place. These include Russia, China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE etc.
5-Concentrate on the USA mainland and on intelligence assets rather than actual physical combat.
6-Create new client states dependent wholly on US support in the region.
7-Cease wasting a cent in states like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Afghanistan will be managed by Russia, China, India, Iran and Pakistan who will countercheck each other and the area would have a permanent stalemate with no victors.
Similarly India and Pakistan will balance each other. Indians fear Pakistani nuclear devices more than USA and its Quixotic to think that Pakistani nuclear devices would ever be used against USA.
The most important feature of the new strategy would be withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan.
This would immediately lead to a new power struggle with Iraq and Afghanistan’s neighbors also involved deeply rather than being silent spectators as now.
Any Taliban victory in Afghanistan and any Al Qaeda victory or a Shia victory in Iraq would restart the old Arab Iran struggle in Iraq.
Fat oil rich Arab states would be spending all the money instead of the USA. In Afghanistan also any Taliban resurgence would force Russia , China, India and Iran to step in and the Taliban would still be contained without a single US cent wasted.
The best strategy is to make others fight and if fighting, to fight with minimum expense ! Do the American decision makers have grey matter ! Thats the billion dollar question !
Some people were asking who Major Amin is. This is the intro he sent in himself:
Agha H. Amin , Retired Tank corps major who served in five tank regiments and commanded an independent tank squadron and served in various staff , instructional and research assignments. In his Pakistan Army tenure he wrote three original tactical papers on Reconnaissance Troops Tactical handling, Reconnaissance support group , and RFS Concept. His writings were published in Pakistan Armys prime journals , Pakistan Army Journal and Citadel Journal of Command and Staff College Quetta. His recommendations regarding bifurcation of officer corps into command and staff cadre advanced in 1998 were later accepted. In addition his recommendation of grouping various corps into army commands advanced in 3. an article published in Citadel Journal in 1998 were accepted in 2005 or so. Wrote The Essential Clausewitz in 1993, Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59 in 1998 , Pakistan Army till 1965 in 1999 ,Development of Taliban Factions in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2010) ,Taliban War in Afghanistan (2009). Served as Assistant Editor of Defence Journal ,Executive Editor of globe and Founder Editor of Journal of Afghanistan Studies . An associate of the think tanks ORBAT and Alexandrian Defense group. Carried out various oil and gas and power transmission line surveys in West Asia. Editor in Chief of monthly Intelligence Review and monthly Military and Security Review. Heads the think tank Centre for study of Intelligence Operations established in early 2010.
Postscript: (this is me, Omar, not Major Amin)
A glimpse of the human cost of these geopolitical games:
But leaving aside the human cost, which great leaders and captains of war are not bothered by in any case (Napoleon managed to get several thousand killed just in a rehearsal of the invasion of Britain; and those were good times. By the time of Hitler and Stalin it was tens of millions) there is another possibility: that the USA was clueless in their nation building project makes one think, could they be equally clueless in their cynical nation-destroying project? Or, maybe even worse, could it be that the same geniuses who thought they were rebuilding Afghanistan imagine they can help to rebuild Pakistan and Afghanistan in what they think is a new improved way? ie, could it be that the US has people (obviously not everyone, there are factions and factions within factions) who will pull out, make a deal with the taliban, then give THEM (and Pakistan) lots of money to try their hand at nation building? could it be that Major sahib and other strategic thinkers are overthinking what the USA is doing because they assume that strategic thinkers are in charge, when really, it is just mildly woke careerists trying theory B now that theory A has failed?
Inquiring minds want to know 🙂
PS2: Some people have asked if this was not inevitable. I think it was not. I think there was a slim chance in 2002 to make it work. But it involved two very difficult (but doable) things; 1. A more competent American occupation and transition. and 2. Pakistan decisively switching sides and abandoning Jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan (since the one is our justification for the second, both had to go). 1 in retrospect seems near impossible. 2 may have been more doable than 1, So putting the primary blame on Pakistan may be a bit unfair now. (Until a week ago, I might have blamed Pakistan first; though i saw the American effort as hugely corruption ridden and frequently incompetent, even I had not idea HOW incompetent and two faced.. after what we have seen (and are soon going to see in giant gobs) of american incompetence and cynical abandonment of friends, I think 1 is the more important reason this failed.
PS3: Predictions are (or should be) the sine qua non of punditry. Make predictions, see if you were right. So here goes.
- Will the taliban succeed in ruling Afghanistan? 2. Will they do so as “moderates”? I think first of all that if they are too moderate, they will fall apart. The ONLY way they can rule Afghanistan is via increasingly harsh Islamic rule; without that asabiya, no chance. So that is out. But I think 1 is quite possible. Their rule will become harsher with time, but there is tremendous battle fatigue in Afghanistan. They may be too weary for another civil war. So if i was going to make a prediction (based on very little information, just general principles) I would predict that they will succeed in ruling all of Afghanistan, but they will not be some sort of model of success. They will have to be harsh, or there will be a LOT of low grade violence and crime and disorder. And they will be poor. No one will pay to maintain the lifestyle of the American time. For a few years, Afghanistan will be harsh, Islamist, poor and mostly a terrible place to live. There will be lots of refugees.
Will there be more trouble in Pakistan? Yes. Nothing more needs to be said.
Will Pakistan go jihadi? I think not. China and the US will pay enough to keep the real estate faction in power. True believers will continue to be frustrated. But there will be terrorism, there will be crime, there will be economic hardship. Not a happy ending, but not the end of the country.
Will Pakistan restart Kashmir Jihad? This one is hard. I dont think they will. That is my best guess, but i am not very confident of it. It may be hard to keep jihadis in line after this huge win in Afghanistan. But if we don’t keep them in control, there will be war. India is not the USA, a faraway power with other fish to fry. So I hope I am right. But I am not super confident.
Will China have to spend money and effort to keep Pakistan and Afghanistan going and not become too jihadi? you bet they will. That part of the American plan should work. It wont be American treasure going into the region, it will be Chinese, Russian, Iranian and Indian treasure and effort. And someday, even lives. But it may not happen as fast as some are thinking. That is my best guess.
Will jihadi attack China? I think they will definitely try. But Pakistan will work REALLY really hard to try and prevent this or to counter them if it happens. Will Pakistan succeed? Well, with CIA etc working to make this happen and with true believers in sympathy with ETIM, why would this NOT happen? I think China’s best hope may be that the CIA could be as incompetent at starting wars as they are at finishing them. It is a tossup. I think eventually there will be trouble as Taliban will get more jihadi with time. But it may not happen right away. I am fudging, but I dont have even a “general principles” idea of what is going on in this case, so I have to fudge.
Does this mean “America is over”? I dont think so. US credibility has taken a giant hit, but some of the problems they faced are really problems any modern state will face in Afghanistan or are just “problems of modernity”.. but leftists and trads whose inner optimist arose again at this point may find that modernity (whatever that means) remains the biggest game in town. The Taliban will not teach the rest of the world some new way of living and thinking, they will barely keep their own impoverished state going.
The Americans will not face the same issues everywhere. This is mostly a problem for those poor Afghans who had thrown their lot in with the US, and it may be a problem for neighbors who supported the Taliban and now fear their just desserts. The further you get from Kabul, the less of a problem it is.
Let us see how many of these turn out to be true.