Pentagon has replaced the top American commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, less than a year after he took over.
This change in military leadership is reflective of frustration on the part of US leadership and of course indication of gravity of the situation. He is to be replaced by Lt General Stanley, a former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command who recently ran all special operations in Iraq. But this is no solution and there is no guarantee that general who could produce somewhat better results in Iraq due to different reasons will be successful in Afghanistan, which is described as graveyard of the ruined dreams of the adventurers and invaders. The decision, announced by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reflects a belief that the war in Afghanistan has grown so complex that it needs a commander drawn from the military’s unconventional warfare branch. As regards much-touted new strategy, there seems to be nothing new, as President Obama continues with the policy of pressuring Pakistan to do more, and a bigger and important role to India in Afghanistan. But this can prove a sure recipe for disaster and no amount of forces in Afghanistan or change of army commander will do the trick. If Pakistan’s security concerns are not addressed, no cajoling, threats or sanctions against Pakistan could force it to ignore its eastern borders to produce fruitful results for America. After 9/11, the UNSC through a resolution had allowed the US to punish Afghanistan and to take out Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders. But the US had drawn flak from the people throughout the world for having invaded Iraq on the false pretexts and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction, import of uranium from Nigeria and Saddam’s contacts with al Qaeda. Later, all these charges proved to be wrong. But people had also condemned attack on Afghanistan on the grounds that those involved in 9/11 events were Arab nationals and none of them was Afghan national. Anyhow, the right course for Obama administration is not ‘staying the course’ but let the people of Iraq and Afghanistan look for solution to their problems. President Obama seems to be well versed in history and other disciplines, and he must be aware that people of Afghanistan could not be tamed by the British in the past. In the recent history, former Soviet Union had bitter experience. And perhaps America could lose its status of sole super power if it insists on having a permanent foothold in Afghanistan, as it happened in case of former Soviet Union. Anyhow, President Obama should reinvent American ideals of human rights and right of self-determination of nations and let people of other countries decide the way they want to live, so long as they do not impose their will on others. It is hoped that President Obama would not like to be counted with the likes of former president George W Bush and Harry Truman etc.