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A Realist Proposal: How the Vietnam War Can Help the US End its Afghan War

Luis Durani

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On December 28, 2014, the US and NATO formally declared an end to the Afghan war despite an ongoing insurgency. Nevertheless, a treaty was signed by the US to allow for the retention of some troops to serve in an advisory and counter-terrorism role.

The reassignment in role began a new phase of the war in which the Afghan forces would lead the fight. Since then, the Afghan government has found itself inept and incapable in defending the country despite more than 14 years of training by foreign forces.

President Obama has recently become more active in Afghanistan despite vowing to end the war during his presidential candidacy. First, the newly elected leader of the Taliban was killed by a drone strike and recently, President Obama announced a more involved role for US forces in the country. While many believed the US was slowly withdrawing from the longest war in its history, it appears to be back in the fight. The situation in Afghanistan is as precarious as ever, with the presence of ISIS in parts of the country coupled with a raging Taliban insurgency, the US objective has never been bleaker in the region. It is clear; the Afghan government is incapable of restraining the Taliban militarily or integrating them politically, without the US presence the Afghan government will fall quickly. On the other hand, the US cannot perpetually sit in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban because neither time nor money is on their side.

The Afghan government’s composition makes it inherently incapable of ever being able to take on the Taliban on its own. The government is an ironic web of warlords, criminals, technocrats, and fanatics that are swathed together by the US Dollar. The US finds itself in a true quagmire; it cannot stay forever nor withdraw anytime soon, so what to do?

President Obama recently traveled to Vietnam to fully normalize relations with a former enemy. Despite fighting a long drawn out war, the US and Vietnam find itself today working together to help contain a larger regional threat, China. The possibility of the US military going back to the country appears more plausible as each day goes by, but not as an invader but rather ally. What can the improved ties between the US and Vietnam teach Americans about its current war in Afghanistan? On occasion, losing a battle can lead to a greater victory in the long run if a nation’s strategic interests are viewed through a non-myopic lens. While the US attempts to preserve a fledgling regime in Afghanistan comprised of people as worse as the Taliban, it should not allow the current situation to blind its strategic ambitions for the region. Similar to Vietnam, once the US is fully withdrawn from the area, whether sooner or later, the Afghan government will collapse and the country will resume the civil war it was fighting before the American intervention. With the exception that the Taliban are much stronger now, while the former Northern Alliance network is essentially eliminated since many of its former leaders have been killed. It would behoove the US to negotiate with the Taliban directly rather than carry on an expensive and futile war.

Vietnam and the South China Sea

Due to nationalistic and ideological hubris, the US isolated Vietnam while the Cold War continued on. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Vietnam’s largest patron, relations with the US began to warm up. President Clinton recognized the country and President Bush normalized them. President Obama’s recent visit to Vietnam came with the lifting of the arms embargo, finalizing the full recognition process. The improved relationship was not due to humanitarian concerns but rather geopolitical. The fear of a rising China has created an opportunity for both Vietnam and the US to restore ties. Both countries see a mutual interest in working with each other in containing the Chinese expansion in the South China Sea. The decades long freeze in relations could have been avoided if American planners better understood the local dynamics among the regional nations.

After the US withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, the unpopular US-backed government of South Vietnam fell to the invading North Vietnamese forces. Despite losing the war, the US global clout allowed it to isolate Vietnam from most of the world. What the US ignored was Vietnam and China’s centuries of animosity trumped their provisional wartime alliance, which erupted into another war due to North Vietnam’s intervention in Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Nevertheless, the US continued to neglect Vietnam for another decade.

As the Cold War came to an end, China began to emerge as a long-term threat to American regional interests in the Pacific. Vietnam and the US fearing a more assertive China looked to each other for help. In particular, Vietnam’s Cam Rahn Bay offers a deep water port, perfect for larger naval ships. The rise of China offered both nations a quid pro quo situation in terms of military cooperation and even an alliance.

Afghanistan and the Lessons of Vietnam

When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, it had done so on the basis of destroying Al Qaeda’s terror network along with removing the Taliban from power for providing such havens. After successfully deposing the Taliban regime, the US put together an Afghan government that was unfortunately comprised of corrupt warlords and criminals similar to Diem’s government in South Vietnam. These warlords were the same murderous bandits that were once chased out by the Taliban to the delight of the people in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, the Taliban’s true nature was demonstrated through their extreme and misogynistic rule.

The US’s next misstep was before fully defeating the Taliban; there was a focus shift to Iraq. As the US began to become bogged down there, the Taliban regrouped and began to win popular support while the Afghan government was losing it due to corruption. The success of any insurgency resides with the local population. Despite a military surge by President Obama, the war has gone on to become the longest in US history and the end doesn’t appear to be anywhere near. So what will happen after the US withdraws?

A Faustian Bargain?

The most likely event after a complete US withdrawal from the region is that the government in Kabul will disintegrate along ethnic lines and a small pitch civil war will be fought. Due to the state of the war in the past 14 years, the Taliban have been able to structure, plan, and organize the insurgency to be a proper fighting force. Any pockets of resistance in a civil war would be short-lived due to the lack of any cohesion or leadership amongst any type of opposition to the Taliban. Without any troops in the fight, the US will condemn the Taliban but nothing more than sanctions and verbal condemnation. This situation provides an opportunity to learn from previous conflicts such as Vietnam.

The US needs to be fully cognizant that the fragile Afghan government it has spent billions in treasures and blood to prop up, can never move forward with the mantle of democracy that it was designed for because of the politicians that were instituted to run it. Many that wield power in the Afghan government are illiterate, leave alone fluent in the understanding the concepts involved in running a Democratic government. The US needs to begin direct negotiations with the Taliban without any preconditions. It should then withdraw from the region on an understanding that the Taliban will not revert back to its old ways but instead renounce terrorism, ensure equality for women and minorities, as well as not become an oppressive regime again. If the Taliban are meant to ascend to power, the US should, albeit with certain boundaries, embrace it as long as it works to its interests. The US needs to ensure the situation with Afghanistan is stable to ensure its regional strategic interests are secured. Retaining an ally country can serve the US very well in the region similar to how Vietnam is now unfolding with respect to China. Afghanistan is geographically situated in a strategically imperative location; Iran to the West, Central Asia and Russia to the North, Pakistan to the South, and China to the East.

The Iranian expansion in the Middle East is becoming a threat to US interests in the region. Potentially the only way to stop the Persian flood is with a polar opposite government at its border. While the Shiite Mullahs rule Tehran, Kabul’s Sunni Mullahs can damper Persian regional ambitions. Despite being nominal allies in the current war, like China and Vietnam, the Iranians and Taliban have a turbulent history. Simultaneously, as Russia continues to exercise its power in Eastern Europe, it’s looking to Central Asia to reestablish its foothold there. Once again the Taliban and Russia do not see each in other in the best of light due to their tumultuous dealings in the past. China has been somewhat neutral with respect to the Taliban prior to 9/11 and desires a stable region no matter who is in power. Yet, the Chinese were apprehensive of the Taliban influence on the Uighur population in its volatile Xinjiang Province, who want an independent state. Finally, the Pakistanis in the south have been the Taliban’s main patron and ally since the formation of the group in the early 1990s. The instability in Pakistan creates more complication in an already intricate web of regional politics. An understanding between the Taliban and the US can create the necessary environment for the group to wean away from its reliance on the Pakistani government. If the US carries out similar diplomatic relations with the group as it does with Vietnam now, Afghanistan can end up being more strategically valuable then Vietnam for American interests even with the Taliban in power.

Luis Durani is currently employed in the oil and gas industry. He previously worked in the nuclear energy industry. He has a M.A. in international affairs with a focus on Chinese foreign policy and the South China Sea, MBA, M.S. in nuclear engineering, B.S. in mechanical engineering and B.A. in political science. He is also author of "Afghanistan: It’s No Nebraska – How to do Deal with a Tribal State" and "China and the South China Sea: The Emergence of the Huaqing Doctrine." Follow him for other articles on Instagram: @Luis_Durani

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Defense

Genetic war

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The human being who is in a genetic condition is always stealing the eyes from these facts and presenting a fascinating face of the past, which is forcing them to fall down from the heights of the present. The situation of these faces comes with the time requirements and the situation of the situation. The situation is coming with the world of Islam and the world. Every face is emerging in which the future predictions and astrological gurus were considered. The series of the universe was from eternity and will remain. Because the creator of the universe is the best way knows.

The beliefs of unity can not deny this, but when it comes to materialism, their experiences are going on their way. The era of social media, which has now begun, will be called the masterpiece of this century. The narrative of the narrative of the world is not ashamed of wearing a mask on the face of humanity, but the lives are like digital game characters. The lives of the nations are attributed to a name and their characters are alive or dead have become weak. Giant nuclear weapons worth billions of rupees have been installed. The new inventions of war and war are only for some goals, which include some elite of the upper societies. A madness to watch science fiction films, which were coming from childhood, are forced to think that the world will be drowned in 2012, the flood, and the buildings will be ground in the air.

Everything will be seen in the air and the vehicles will be seen in the air. Everything seems to be very weak. Human inventions for world wars are seen in a wonderful way the time has begun to set directions very soon. The world’s elite will sit down and decorate the conditions for these conditions, because the curtains of materialism consider human life as the most effective means to give their experiences to maturity. The practical experiments of experiments are decorated to teach the laws of animals. The bones of human beings are made from bones. The structures of the form are melted like wamy paper. In the plastic bottle, humans are imprisoned. The rights are found only in lights or flights when their bodies reach the soul it are pulled. Networking is so strong for their businesses that the day turns dark in the night.

The weapons used in it are religious, economic tactics that control the heart and mind of the mind. Social media has made them even easier.The list of social media users does not double the day, but a hundred times more in the last 5 years! Mobile application networking and GPS location based working started. Easy to find the target and useful laser type weapons, the basis of the world dancing on human beings and fingers has been laid. It is no longer meaningful for humans to cross borders. The borders of 200 countries are being found in the form of karuna. In the early form of the corona virus, the wave of fear that has spread throughout the world is clear. But also look at the other side of the picture that millions of people are standing in sampling rows. In the coming days, the decisions of the destiny of the countries will be made.

Today, they are singing songs of human sympathy, tomorrow they will be considered as a permanent guarantee of human destruction. The genetic information war has begun, which can not be possible in the coming years, until the passing of the century. At this time, China has also turned towards the development of genetic information technology and experiments with the economic downturn. It may be that many experimental activities in China increase with their 1.4 billion population resources, it is their biggest step towards the safety measures. The role of the nations is associated with their survival. In the second direction of the picture, the United States may have run a bit faster than the time requirements It was not exact.

The country like America, Germany, Australia, England, France, is in the process of completing the estimates of humanity and their weapons by using the lost poppy from Afghanistan. In this great project of virus and vaccine sales, the murderer of humanity is seen standing in the row of decorating the head of the guards of humanity. Who does not compete in the race, but who puts more on life? Like a public relations officer, the Jews and Christians are now trying to divide the world into more divisions and pieces. Before this, the awareness of genetic data and regional boundaries is their first goal. One line, which has been planted from China to Iraq, is to choose the town of ignorant rulers like India. For the past several centuries, the animals of animals are sitting in their own god.

Do not be afraid of sacrificing humanity, but transfer fear to humanity In this war, we are not only from the virus, but also from the evil that is the followers of humanity’s killer and animal. It is time to raise the voice for Muslims and patriotism and to fight against the nation. It is time to say that the war will no longer be fought with weapons. The government has requested that the youth of its youth should now be detected, research centers, laboratories, libraries are made In the future; Islam should take basic steps for those who defend the Muslim.

Politics will happen when the state will be. Focus on preparing the shipment of the understanders to understand the details of the time. This virus is nothing but a need for the defense of Muslims in the genetic war. The person who is weak at the moment will also cause death. The destruction of the nation and the nation will be seen in front of the eyes. The strategy is to be adopted. Use your source. There is no research center outside the quran and Sunnah, the welfare of the religion of humanity is in holding on.

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Defense

Pandemic Terror: Securitizing The Global Health

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photo: APEC

Traditionally, the concept of security was narrowly confined in military position with the essential focus on state protection from threats to national interests. Nevertheless, in the not too distant past, efforts to link up global health and health security have lifted eyebrows from experts in both the areas. Arguments linking global health and health security have become patronize in the past few years. Accumulated concerns about the proliferation of biological weapons and the potential for bioterrorism have brought health security and public health more closer. The health-security nexus has become a dominating component within global health governance and global surveillance and response to infectious disease outbreaks. Though, debates on health-security nexus vary in levels of analytic thinking from the global to the national, infectious diseases could be incredibly conferred as a real terror to any state. A pandemic may not only cause social disruption but also, threaten the stability of a state by eroding confidence in the state’s ability to provide a basic healthcare facilities and protection against diseases. Ideally, infectious diseases may not be the white-shoe, but it may provide the flash point turning a ‘weak state’ into a ‘failed state’.

For millennia, humans suffered and died from disease with no understanding or knowledge of the aetiology. Now and then historians transcribed conflicts and wars where infectious disease outbreaks played a prominent role. Likewise, several historical approaches to combating disease – such as the quarantine practices of the late 14th century onwards – proved so effective that we continue to utilize equivalent methods today. For a time, following the collapse of the Roman Empire the trend was for people to avoid settling in urban environment. By the 12th century, this began to reverse that move towards increased urbanization and also brought with it greater risk of diseases. In 1377 the city-state of Venice that had been severely affected by the Black Death as it spread across Europe, introduced quarantine arrangements for the first time. Observing that the disease appeared to have arrived on ships carrying trade goods, the Venetian authorities mandated that all newly arriving vessels be prevented from unloading cargo or passengers for a period of 40 days, purportedly on the basis that it was the same length of time Prophet Christ and Prophet Moses (P.B.U.T) had spent isolated in the desert.

At the end of WWI one of the most devastating epidemiological events in recorded human history occurred in the form of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic that killed approximately 40 millions people worldwide. Moreover, several major epidemics of typhoid, cholera, malaria, and yellow fever had a demonstrable impact on military forces throughout WWII. However, the real threat that infectious diseases posed to the global community was extremely well recognized by 1948 at the time of the establishment of World Health Organization (WHO). Likewise, the connexion of the global health – health security acknowledged in the 1990s flows from four critical causes: (1) the devastating scale of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the developing world; (2) the recognition of the global problem of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases; (3) renewed concerns about the proliferation of biological weapons by states; (4) increased fears about the use of biological weapons by terrorists.

Global health issues, especially from infectious disease outbreaks, have risen ever higher on the global political agenda in the past two decades. Surprisingly, new infectious diseases have been emerging at an accelerated average of one a year by the same time period. E.g., SARS (2002-2003), MERS (2012), Avian Influenza A(H7N9) (2013), Ebola (2014-2015), Zika (2015-2016), and COVID-19 (nCoV-2019-2020).

“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration – now happening in nearly every corner of the world – create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogen”. The Global Health Security Index, 2019. Knowing the risks associated with infectious disease outbreaks is not enough. Political determination is needed to protect people from the consequences of pandemics and to build a safer and more secure world. Today is high time for presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians, and health policy-makers to recognize that every nation’s security depends on global health security and that requires sincere, consistent, and long-run planning to make the world better equipped to respond pandemic terror. What is unfortunately guaranteed if history is any guide, is that adverse infectious disease outbreaks will continue to visit globally and securitizing global health is one of the best tools to address them.

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Defense

Dynamics of Escalation in South Asia and Pakistan’s Nuclear Threshold

Haris Bilal Malik

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The South Asian region has always been regarded vulnerable to military escalation based on its ever-changing complex security dynamics and volatile relations between India and Pakistan. Since the year 2019, the prevalent security environment of the South Asian region has once again become a dominant regional and global concern. The world witnessed India’s continued brutalities in Kashmir and a prospective fear of a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan against the backdrop of the Balakot crisis. Moreover, in August 2019 India changed the special constitutional status of the Kashmir region by revoking Article 370 and 35A thus further adding to the volatility of the region. Despite the international criticism, India imposed a lockdown in the disputed region which is still reportedly continuing. This demonstrates India’s motives for dominating the escalation in the region with its provocative strategies. All these factors would likely provoke Pakistan revisiting its nuclear threshold level vis-à-vis India’s aggressive and provocative policies to dominate the region. 

Based on India’s provocative strategies, there remains a continuous fear of escalation in the South Asian region which is adversely impacting regional security, stability, and strategic equilibrium. In recent years, India has continuously enhanced its counter-force offensive posture vis-à-vis Pakistan with the notion of ‘Surgical Strikes’ and its proactive war doctrines which include the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD). All of them are based on proactive strategies and indirect threats of preemptive strikes against Pakistan aimed at challenging Pakistan’s nuclear threshold.

Furthermore, the recent technological advancements which form the very basis of India’s military expansion include its supersonic and hypersonic missile development programs, provision of an enhanced air defence shield, space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR), and its nuclear-capable submarines fleet. India’s anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test back in March 2019 is also indicative of this continuing trend. These technological advancements are clear indicators that India’s policies seem to deliberately dominate the escalation in South Asia and ultimately destabilize the deterrence equilibrium in the region.

India’s approach to challenging Pakistan’s nuclear threshold is also evident in the February 2019 short-lived military engagement between India and Pakistan. India, under its notion of limited war and proactive strategy, threatened Pakistan with a ‘preemptive splendid first strike’ and had reportedly entered Pakistan’s air space with fighter jets; this led to a dangerous escalation of hostilities at the political and military levels between both countries. The whole episode has also questioned the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence and, ever since there has been an ongoing debate at the domestic and international levels about nuclear deterrence and its applicability to such a critical situation. India’s sub-conventional aggression was appropriately met by Pakistan at the same level the very next day. Still, Pakistan’s nuclear threshold remained relevant during the whole episode because of the widely regarded perception that if both countries escalate further, the situation might turn into an all-out nuclear war.

Pakistan’s threat perception has, over the years, become even more inclined towards India primarily based on its conventional asymmetry vis-à-vis India. Furthermore, India’s quests for limited conventional or sub-conventional aggression (which it expects would remain below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold) would likely provoke Pakistan to further intensify its nuclear threshold. This would further strengthen Pakistan’s resort to neutralize the Indian challenge of breach of sovereignty in the form of low-intensity conflict in a much better position. In the same vein, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence approach which over the years has evolved from ‘minimum credible deterrence’ to ‘full spectrum deterrence’ would likely remain a key component of the overall security apparatus. This posture provides deterrence against all forms of aggression from India with the combination of conventional forces and nuclear capabilities.

It is worth mentioning here that, Pakistan’s timely and calculated responses have all played a significant role in the preservation of minimum credible deterrence and the assurance of full-spectrum deterrence at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. The responses such as the development of intermediate-range ballistic missiles (Shaheen III), short-range ballistic missiles (Nasr), multiple independently reentry targetable vehicle (MIRV-Ababeel), air and sea-launched cruise missile (Ra’ad and Babur) and the speculated development of a naval second-strike capability all have played their role. Moreover, Pakistan’s induction of the tactical nuclear-capable ‘Nasr’ missile is also perceived as battlefield nuclear weapons in response to India’s aggressive and proactive strategies. It has further enhanced the deterrent value of Pakistan’s nuclear threshold and would likely serve as a ‘weapon of deterrence’, which aims to deny space for conventional or sub-conventional aggression and avoid any escalation-domination from India.

Hence, at present, Pakistan has been threatened by India’s conventional and unconventional military modernization and its proactive strategies, which India hopes would likely stay below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. At the same time, Pakistan has been in an asymmetric equation of conventional forces vis-à-vis India, an equation that has led the former to preserve its security with the assurance of credible nuclear deterrence. However, time and again India has tested Pakistan’s nuclear threshold notably at the sub-conventional level as evident from the recent examples. Pakistan, which has been relying on its nuclear program to overcome both conventional and unconventional threats from India, needs to further enhance its deterrence posture at the sub-conventional level as well. This would likely remain a plausible determinant of the nuclear threshold in the years to come. 

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