During the height of the American war in Vietnam, an underground radical musical group,The Fugs released a song called Kill For Peace. The polemic meaning was a clear mockery of a US policy that involved dropping bombs on Vietnam under the guise of fighting for peace. The song’s message succeeded just as sure as the war in Vietnam ultimately failed.
The US war in Afghanistan is now approaching its 16th anniversary and Donald Trump’s recently announced ‘troop surge’ looks to only prolong the conflict. This is for all intents and purposes, a war which has seen front-line US combat troops engaged in battle for a longer period of time than America’s primary phase in Vietnam between the Gulf of Tonkin false flag of 1964 and America’s penultimate withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975.
The eerie similarities do not end there. US policy in Afghanistan, especially in light of Donald Trump encouraging of India to play a large role in the conflict, is becoming one aimed more at containing the Sino-Pakistan alliance than actually bringing peace to Afghanistan itself.
In this sense, one could compare Trump’s surge to the US bombing of Cambodia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While the bombing of a neutral country was justified by the US as necessarily in so far as it would cut supply lines to Vietnamese Communists, the reality is that the US was hellbent on avoiding the creation of a pro-Soviet government in Cambodia.
Ultimately, the US got its wish when the Khmer Rouge took over the country and renamed the country Democratic Kampuchea in 1975. The extent of US support to the brutal Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot has been masterfully exposed by Australian journalist John Pilger. By 1979, after all of Pol Pot’s killings, the country’s regime changed to one that was pro-Vietnamese/pro-Soviet in any case. The US plan not only failed but failed at great expense to the peoples of South East Asia. By 1975, Laos too had a pro-Vietnamese/pro-Soviet government, another testament to how little US weapons actually had an impact on the political trajectory of the region.
Just as by the early 1970s it became clear that the Vietcong were never going to be eliminated from South Vietnam, so too is it clear today that the Taliban will not be eliminated from the Pashtunistan region of Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has clearly admitted this in a statement that on the face of it, is well reasoned, but one whose overall context is increasingly absurd.
“We are there (in Afghanistan) to facilitate and ensure that there is a pathway for reconciliation and peace talks.
As the pressure begins to take hold, we believe we already know there are certain moderate elements of the Taliban who we think will be ready and develop a way forward”.
Tillerson then did his best Trump impersonation and said that the US is in Afghanistan to make sure the Taliban will not win.
Tillerson’s journey from realism to fantasy finally resolved itself by becoming somewhat fatalistic as he added,
“We may not win one, but neither will you (Taliban)”.
If Tillerson admits that much of the Taliban are the moderate rebels that the US was looking for and never found in Syria, then why not simply engage in a peace process with them now? If anything, more moderate Taliban will have a higher chance of success in persuading more radical elements to lay down their arms than a renewed US war which will only galvanise many more people to join up with the most extreme factions of the Taliban.
Just as Pilger stated that the US bombing of Cambodia, a war crime by any definition was the best recruiting tool that Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge could have had, so too is a US war on a Taliban that was willing to negotiate, a recruiting tool for something much worse: ISIS in Afghanistan.
The US is not only ‘killing for peace’ but in trying to use India as a means to ‘contain the China-Pakistan alliance’, the US will ultimately put China and Pakistan in a position to ultimately win the war in Afghanistan against ISIS, a group that unlike much of the Taliban is not moderate at all, they are the Khmer Rouge of South Asia and the Middle East, only even more extreme and more dangerous.
Just as US wars in South East Asia failed militarily in respect of terminating the Vietcong as well failing in their winder goal of ending Soviet influence in the region, so too will America’s plan to terminate the Taliban only lead to a stronger Taliban that will ultimately bring stability to the region with the aid of an emboldened and stronger Pakistan and China. And just as a bonus, unlike in the 1960s and 1970s, this time, China and Russia are partners, not adversaries.