By Con George-Kotzabasis Unlike the evolution of species from an imperfect state to a more advanced one, the evolution of war, as a result of the huge increase in the fire-power of armaments and lethal military techniques, in reverse is a development for the worst. Throughout history the lessons of military confrontations have pellucidly shown that when a state decides to don the panoply of war against irreconcilable and implacable enemies it’s by the worst means and methods that one can defeat such foes. The military forces and the armaments that a state has at its disposal have to be used disproportionately and relentlessly against the “strength” of its enemy and defeat the latter by nipping him in-the-bud and hence preventing him from becoming stronger. In the few instances when force was not used disproportionally against a “budding” foe–an exemplary late demonstration of this was the Vietnam War when U.S. strategists instead of using a force de frappe against the Vietcong and destroying them while they were still weak they used the fallacious strategy of escalation to their doom the war, if it was won, was waged at an astronomical cost in military personnel and materiel as well as at an enormous number of civilian casualties and refugees.
It’s for this reason that a compellingly victorious strategy against the Taliban dictates that the US and its NATO allies deployed in Afghanistan must use their powerful armaments up to the hilt as well as all the techniques of covert and clandestine operations of their Special Forces. The only powerful armaments they should keep in reserve are tactical nuclear weapons, which would only be used as a last resort, if conventional weapons are found to be wanting in destroying a fanatical unyielding enemy who considers himself of implementing the agenda of God. Moreover, since the contour of the war against the Taliban is not separated by Maginot lines and is by its nature a borderless war which the enemy by crossing the border of a neighbourly country uses it as a safe haven and replenishment ground for its forces, it would be doltishly foolish and strategically illogical and contradictory for the US forces and its allies to stop the chase of the Taliban at the border, in our case, of Pakistan, all in the name of respecting the national sovereignty of the latter when the Taliban already flagrantly and brazenly violated.
In such war it would be the ultimate inanity and an abiding tragedy for one party in a deadly conflict to “piously” abide to international conventions and treaties while the opposing party “sacrilegiously” violates. It would be like Don Quixote fighting Genghis Khan. And an abiding tragedy as an outcome of an unnecessarily prolonged war which so voraciously feeds itself on civilian casualties from the fact that the Taliban and al-Qaeda uses civilians, and indeed, relatives and their own families, as human shields. When the war could potentially have been shortened and the tragic circumstances of its people involved as bystanders in an unwanted war could have ended, if the US military combined with its Pakistani counterpart could attack and destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda in their safe havens and replenishing and recruiting grounds. US strategists are of course aware that to allow “Cambodian Sanctuaries” on the soil of Pakistan for al-Qaeda and the Taliban would be militarily the penultimate foolishness. And the ultimate foolishness would be not to destroy these sanctuaries either by overt or covert operations. Fortunately we have already seen that the Americans are desisting from making the strategic mistakes of Vietnam and a shift in their strategy as pilotless drones and Special Forces units are bombing, and making incursions into, Pakistan in search and destroy operations against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces.
Inevitably, this has engendered nationalistic anger and ire among sections of the Pakistan government and many of its people against the incursion of US forces in their country which they consider to be a violation of the sovereignty of their nation. One however can argue that this “violation” on the part of the US would not have occurred if the primary violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty had not already being perpetrated by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Further, the inability of Pakistan, either due to a political unwillingness or military incapacity, to stop these initial violators of its sovereignty made it perforce a task for its allies against terror, i.e., the Americans to perform. The leadership in Islamabad must be reminded of these facts and their inevitable flow into a “strategic dam’ that first, will stem the current of the Taliban into Pakistan in violation of its borders, and secondly, will lead to the defeat of its enemies by depriving the latter their sanctuaries, thus achieving the goal of the Pakistan-American alliance against terror. Further allies in a war cannot logically violate each other’s sovereignty as their mutual aim is to destroy their enemy wherever the latter deploys his forces. And this is exactly what the Americans are doing by chasing the Taliban across the border of Afghanistan.
Once the Taliban and al-Qaeda are deprived of their sanctuary in Pakistan and the Americans and their allies block this strategically deadly exit-and-entry of their enemy from and into the soil of Afghanistan that will ease the defeat of the Taliban and their sundry jihadists. And the ‘beheading’ of the latter will be executed mainly by the Afghans themselves if the American strategists and their allies adopt the following strategy that is to be formulated below.
To Clausewitz, the master in matters of war the following was axiomatic: That the success of a war depends on the unison of the natural resources of a nation with the existence of its people. It’s this coupling that engenders the determination of a people to protect this vital natural wealth of a country from being appropriated by their enemies. In Afghanistan opium is the primary natural resource of the country. Ninety-three percent of opiates on the world market originate in Afghanistan at a value of $4 billion. It’s well known that the drug industry has major linkages with local administration as well as high levels of the national government. Also, the Taliban controls substantial parts of its production with which it funds its war against the Karzai government and its American, Australian and European allies.
It’s imperative therefore that the Afghanistan government turns off the faucet of opium and dry up the thirst of the Taliban to continue the war. More importantly, to use opium as a strategic weapon that will deal the Taliban a coup d’eclat from which it will never recover. To accomplish the complete defeat of the Taliban the Karzai government should as soon as it’s possible nationalize the production of opium and promptly make the tribal chiefs of Afghanistan equity holders of the national consortium of opium production. As the tribal chiefs have been for aeons the shepherds of their people the profits that will be allocated to them will spread among their tribes. Hence every Afghan will have a vested interest to protect this economic benefit from being stolen by the Taliban bandits or any foreigners. Further it will enhance the status of the tribal chiefs among their people and solidify their political and social power which has been for years their goal.
Hence with this stratagem the central government in Kabul will mobilize all Afghans through their tribal elders in a war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda that will lead to the total defeat of the latter. And it will build the foundations of a federal democratic structure in Afghanistan without impinging on the historically proud status of the tribal leaders’ independence that has been for hundreds of years the apple of discord and has fomented internecine warfare between the tribes. It’s for the Americans and their allies to persuade the Karzai government to nationalize the production of opium and turn it into the utmost political and military weapon that will decisively decimate the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.