Obama is indeed a miracle man. Getting elected as America’s first-ever black president was in itself a miracle, and then becoming a Nobel peace laureate as head of state of a superpower that is tirelessly fighting wars since after the Second World War was even a bigger miracle. His choice as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was a huge “surprise” even for Obama himself. But he had no qualm in collecting it.Now that Obama has got rid of Osama, the people in the United States, and indeed the world over, expect him to end thedecade-old Afghan war and give them peace. It is time Obama, the miracle man, rose up to the honour that the Nobel Committee had bestowed upon him for doing ...view middle of the document...
They consider Osama’s death as the “beginning of the endgame” in Afghanistan. To them, it changes everything and presents an opportunity for reconciliation that didn’t exist before.
Though militarist Pentagon-led view is resisting any precipitous move at this stage and urging a more gradual pullout, many of the president’s civilian national security advisers contend that the benefits of incremental gains do not merit the cost — in lives and dollars — of such a large military presence. They say negotiations are an essential part of a new war strategy that will allow Obama to announce a substantial reduction in US forces starting this summer.
No wonder, ever since the Osama killing, the Obama administration has been engaged in a holistic reassessment of the war in Afghanistan and the broader effort to combat terrorism, with Congress, the military and the Obama administration weighing the goals, strategies, costs and underlying authority for a conflict that is now almost a decade old. There is little dispute in the White House and among lawmakers that this year has brought ‘substantial military gains’ against the Taliban.
But assessments of the other elements of the strategy — such as improving the Afghan economy and the government in ways that can sustain hard-won security — are less positive. There are serious doubts on the feasibility of plans to recruit and train as many as 400,000 Afghan security forces to take over once foreign troops depart. “Despite our best efforts, there are challenges of corruption, predatory behaviour, incompetence still evident within the Afghan army and police,” Senator John Kerry said at a recent hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he chairs.
On top of these problems, there is also the question, ultimately, of money and resources. The annual cost of maintaining the Afghan forces is estimated at up to $10 billion, whereas Afghan tax revenue totals less than $2 billion leaving a huge gap to be filled by American taxpayer. “So who will pay the bills to avoid having those armed soldiers and police mobilised as part of the next insurgency?” Kerry asked. He also questioned what he described a “fundamentally unsustainable” monthly expenditure of more than $10 billion on a massive military operation with no end in sight, and called for urgent clarification from the administration on its mission and exit plan.
Kerry summed up the whole issue in one question: “What is the political solution? We need to make our ultimate goals absolutely clear for the sake of the American people, Afghans, Pakistanis and everyone else who has a stake in the outcome,” he said. This question says it all. No one knows what the political solution is going to be for ending this unwinnable costly war which has not gone beyond retribution and retaliation.
With his eyes on next year’s presidential election for a second term, Obama, no doubt, has been in a fix on the pullout issue and Osama’s killing now seems to have given him...