I’d recently begun to think there was no way back from seven years of Bush administration mismanagement in Afghanistan – but it’s still shocking to hear it from the British ambassador in Kabul.
The London Times reports that Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles told his French counterparts exactly that at a high-level meeting, however, and that the secret memo of the meeting has now been leaked to the French press (h/t our tireless researcher Kat). Le Canard Enchaîné, a “respected French weekly” reproduced the memo.
“The current situation is bad. The security situation is getting worse. So is corruption and the Government has lost all trust. Our public statements should not delude us over the fact that the insurrection, while incapable of winning a military victory, nevertheless has the capacity to make life increasingly difficult, including in the capital.
“The presence — especially the military presence — of the coalition is part of the problem, not the solution. The foreign forces are ensuring the survival of a regime which would collapse without them. In doing so, they are slowing down and complicating an eventual exit from the crisis (which, moreover, will probably be dramatic).”
The French diplomat sent the cable to brief President Sarkozy and Bernard Kouchner, the Foreign Minister, ahead of meetings with Britain and other Nato allies over the Afghan deployment.
…Sir Sherard, 53, was also quoted as saying that while Britain had no alternative to supporting the United States, the Americans should be told to change strategy.
Reinforcing the military presence against the Taleban insurrection would be counter-productive, he said, according to Le Canard. “It would identify us even more clearly as an occupying force and it would multiply the number of targets (for the insurgents),” he was quoted as saying.
The allied governments should start preparing public opinion to accept that the only realistic solution for Afghanistan was to be ruled by “an acceptable dictator”.
“In the short term we should dissuade the American presidential candidates from getting more bogged down in Afghanistan,” the ambassador was quoted as saying.
The British government are saying the French memo is a “parody” of what was actually said at the meeting, with insiders telling the Times that ‘the British position was deliberately “exaggerated” to produce a version that Paris wanted to hear’.
So either the British ambassador to Kabul thinks that the US-led strategy is wrong and the war is as good as lost or he doesn’t quite think that – but very obviously the French up to and including President Sarkozy do and are willing to officially “leak” a possibly hyped-up account of the ambassador’s words as cover and justification. Which doesn’t bode well for NATO solidarity for a new US administration that will have to go cap in hand to European allies for additional troops and political support in Afghanistan (and ever-escalating incursions into Pakistan) even with a partial drawdown in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan is, apparently, too grim to release.
Seth Jones, an expert on Afghanistan at the Rand Corporation think tank, called the situation in Afghanistan “dire.”
“We are now at a tipping point, with about half of the country now penetrated by a range of Sunni militant groups including the Taliban and al Queida,” Jones said. Jones said there is growing concern that Dutch and Canadian forces in Afghanistan would “call it quits.”
“The US military would then need six, eight, maybe ten brigades but we just don’t have that many,” Jones said.
… Perhaps foreshadowing the NIE assessment on Afghanistan, Adm. Mullen told Congress, “absent a broader international and interagency approach to the problems there, it is my professional opinion that no amount of troops in no amount of time can ever achieve all the objectives we seek in Afghanistan.”
There’s not enough troops to provide stability for long enough, even if there were there’s not enough reconstruction and reconcilliation and even if there was there’s not enough regional goodwill for American adventurism. Just like Iraq. And just like Iraq the Afghan occupation is an unwinnable one. Neither nation is looking at long-term internal stability or even freedom from crippling internicene violence. Worse, the violence in Afghanistan has polarized the two major players in the region and contains even more of a prospect of igniting a regional bloodbath than the occupation of Iraq.The best that can be done is a “slow bleed” which will hopefully be less destructive to the region and American interests than a fast one. Just like Iraq, though, there’s no evidence that such is possible.
Yet, unfortunately, both mainstream party’s prospective Presidential candidates will continue to decide foreign policy by the touchstone that America has always used and inflict domestic vote-winning tough talk on foreigners yet again.
Source / Newshoggers
Thanks to Diane Stirling-Stevens / The Rag Blog