Jihad to the finish in Afghanistan?

Image result for pics of Trump giving afghan speech


The US will hereafter forego foreign adventurism and wars to “rebuild countries in our own image”. But in Afghanistan, American forces, the US President Donald Trump announced, will fight on and finish the job of eliminating the terrorists. He would not make the mistake he said of his predecessor Obama’s of withdrawing the American military prematurely because that will lead to the al-Qaeda and ISIS filling the vacuum as happened in Iraq. Moreover, his strategy he said will be dictated by “the conditions on the ground” not “arbitrary timetables”. This could mean interminable war except, Trump contrarily asserted, that “our commitment [to Afghanistan] is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check.” The conclusion then is that the US commitment to the Abdul Ghani regime in Kabul is in fact limited.

In the event, should the Taliban be prepared for rapid attrition of its leadership ranks with precision US kills, and manage to wage a sustained drag out fight to wear down the US fighting capabilities, deplete the US Treasury of its wealth, and test Washington’s patience and increase its frustrations with “a war without victory”, they may still end up winning against America as they had done against the Soviet Union in the early 1980s. This is enough of an incentive for the Taliban and assorted Islamic terrorist groups that will now be attracted to its standard, one would assume, to engage in a jihad to the finish against America. Trump has indicated that because “Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win [faraway] battles”, the US military commanders will be given a free hand to devise battlefield strategies, hunt down and kill the Taliban, and to call in more forces if necessary to bring the fight to a conclusion. So Afghanistan may soon witness a dizzying pace of US military operations once the build-up is completed and, as reaction, heightened terrorist activity inside Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the mean time, Pakistan will get it in the neck. As part of his multi-pillared strategy, Trump means “to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan”. “We can no longer”, he declared, “be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond”. While acknowledging Pakistan’s role in the past as “a valued partner”, he accused Pakistan of “housing the very terrorists that we are fighting”,  and warned that Pakistan “will have to change, and that will change immediately”. Trump also hinted at the possibility of Pakistani “nuclear weapons and materials…coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world for that matter.” And then came the implied threat: “No partnership”, Trump averred, ” can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.” Or else.

Modi’s hugs apparently paid off. The US President referred to “another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India…a key security and economic partner”, appreciating its “important contributions to to stability in Afghanistan” especially in the economic and development fields, and reiterated his commitment to pursue “our shared objectives” in the subcontinent and “the broader Indo-Pacific region”. But amidst expressions of goodwill, Trump couldn’t resist holding out a veiled threat to Delhi. “India makes billions of dollars in trade” with the US, and “we want them,” he affirmed, “to help us more with Afghanistan” with regard to economic and development assistance. [I thought I heard him say “help us war with Afghanistan”!! and checked the print text to be reassured.]

More economic aid and programmatic assistance is manageable. But, what happens to the Taliban factions  cultivated by RAW that have so far helped keep the Pakistan-supported Taliban of the Haqqani Network and ISI off-balance and about whom GHQ Rawalpindi keeps complaining incessantly to Washington about? There’s also the likelihood, if the fighting gets difficult, for Washington to request a more direct Indian military role. The Modi government better begin strategizing and preparing for this eventuality and on how to say NO to Trump without getting him all worked up. And finally, does Trump’s anti-terrorist stance include the India-targeting terrorist outfits patronized by the ISI — LeT, JeM, and that lot of scruffians? I doubt it.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Asian geopolitics, civil-military relations, Culture, Decision-making, Defence Industry, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Intelligence, Iran and West Asia, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Pakistan military, Pakistan nuclear forces, SAARC, society, South Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West, Terrorism, United States, US., Weapons, West Asia, Western militaries. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Jihad to the finish in Afghanistan?

  1. Aban says:

    ‘India as a strategic partner’ Isnt this what all American presidents are saying since Clinton’s Indian trip in 2000? American policy of supporting Syrian ‘rebels’ and pampering Saudi and Turkey is enough to prove its double standards regarding jihadi terrorism. India can trust US if it wants to end up with an egg on its face . Btw, Piyush Goyal is already celebrating. The sheer joy of being recognised as an American sidekick.

    • rbalmoori says:

      As long as we don’t send our troops into American battles, it’s better to be US sidekick when we have strategic troubles in our neighborhood. Strategic autonomy days are gone and we don’t have the capacity to face a two front threat.

      • Aban says:

        The problem is Americans are not going to help us in case of ‘strategic trouble’ in neighbourhood. If China attacks India , US will remain mute spectator. And getting too close to US will antagonise Russia.. In the long run it Russia with whom China’s interests will clash as both will try to bring central asia under their influence.

  2. rbalmoori says:

    “But, what happens to the Taliban factions cultivated by RAW”…..Do you mean TTP or the Afghan Taliban? If it’s the latter, that’s news to me. Never knew RAW has contacts in Taliban to the extent that Pakistan is complaining. If it’s the former, wonder why there is a lull in TTP attacks inside Pakistan. Time to revive them with NDS help.

    • Aban says:

      Most likely TTP or the Punjabi taliban in southern Punjab . And if Raw is really supporting them, then till now it has done a good job in thrashing Pak army.

  3. As long as India playing the limited role or a nation builder in Af, and USA taking on the role of terror killer, it might have a chance. But USA & Israel will need to work out an arrangement with Iran.
    India’s increased role in Af will only polarize things. Solution possibly lied in US-Chin working this out together. but that has indo-pacific conseqences. so basically a crappy situation with a crappy outcome.

  4. Bob Debilder says:

    “But, what happens to the Taliban factions cultivated by RAW.” Wait, what is that about? Can you please elaborate Mr. Karnad?

    Because I honestly had no clue that there could be truth to that, I thought they were just wild Pakistani conspiracy theories to blame India for all their misfortunes. So is RAW involved with the TTP? And if so, to what extent?

  5. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    RAW does not support Taliban, whether good, bad, ugly, fugly, whatever. That is merely a Paki propaganda. May be US is using the Paki propaganda to ensure more compliance from India.

    But US is a spent force. If a little country like north korea doesn’t care, if a failed state like pakistanis have never cared, if the Americans were betrayed by the chinese whose rise they financed, then why should India? Unless………

    Every ex-sarpanch desires to sire a new sarpanch, who will then continue the noble tradition of extracting revenue from mesmerized villagers and share with the ex-sarpanch. That is by definition the pragmatic national interest. Chinese were developed by the Americans who in turn were developed by the brits who themselves had fed on the Islamist territories. If Trump today believes that the US should hereafter forego foreign adventurism and wars to “rebuild countries in our own image”, then he is merely trying to quit while the going is good. Americans in their own definitions own like 84 trillion USD worth of national wealth. He thinks he can begin the task of national retirement while the going is good and may be save a chance for the future American generations to again lord the world some day.

    The flip side is that each new super power has had a shorter half life than the previous one and was more threatened than the previous one.

    If the Americans get to keep their wealth and hand over the grunt work to the Indian youth bulge to fight out their wars, then the Americans would merely be following their pragmatic national interest. But then most ex-super powers have not been able to hold onto their wealth.

    • first of all, if Mr. Bharat Karnad is saying that, it might be not be a figment of his imagination. Second of all, India supported Northern Alliance also during the Soviet-Pak war in 1979, when Brezinsky said that they had given the Russians their own Vietnam in Afghanistan, at that time. All i am saying that The Taliban factions,which even hold a permanent office in Doha (Qatar) are basically Deobandis,Indian State could had used this institution to its advantage against the pakistani millitary as a counter-response to the Jarnails in GHQ & their version of a bleeding India with a thousand cuts, but we had always been DOING NOTHING, its not an option, but out of oblivious nature of the BABUS in South-Block we have cultivated it as an option (unfortunately) over a period of time.

  6. Sir, a follow-up question to that would be that IF, India builds its own Garrison in Afghanistan via increasing the ITBP troops over there, what would be the Scenario regarding the PLA statement regarding their own concerns of the CPEC route ? What if there is a build-up of PLA Forces in POK ? And if that scenario becomes a harsh reality, what will again be the options available for India in that tectonic Strategic Shift & most importantly will India as a state will get its act ready to counter china regarding our own Defence-Preparedness ?? I am Sure, you will answer my query at your earliest convenience.

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