The AfPak Dominos

Let’s take a look at the line of dominos that are rapidly tumbling into one another in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.

We start with the situation: two countries, newly introduced to democracy with a substantial insurgent movement operating within their borders. Oh, there it goes, tipping into…

an entrenched multinational force attempting to build a nation while fighting that insurgency. And there it goes crashing into…

an unhappy populace at home, who are sick of war and bodybags filled with soldiers dying for a cause that is not strictly within the nations interests. And there that one goes straight into…

…a world whose opinion, never strong, has soured on the whole affair. Between the UN, this really annoying Australian/Swedish guy and every protestor you can lay your hands on. And there they go into…

an ineffectual government that supports the coalition but has a problem with its military leaders. Oh, Civil-Military relations. Tricky stuff, right? Oh, down they go…

…into an environmental disaster that wrecks the country, exposes corruption within the state and leaves the nation clinging to stability. And all the while…

…international aid, so quick to help others recently, just trickles in at a vastly reduced rate. That’s a problem when…

…the insurgency movement operating within the country goes from strength to strength during the crisis. That leads, inevitably, to…

multi-national intervention. Aerial bombardment, drones, special ops. Seems surgical enough and the government isn’t doing much to oppose it (tacit support) but…

…that means the military leaders, not the biggest fans of foreign intervention within their borders or the goverments response to the floods, start to get a little unhappy. And then…

Boom. A Pakistani army post gets hit by friendly fire.

From there, the dominoes start falling a lot faster.

First, the military of Pakistan aren’t pleased. Sure, blue-on-blue happens in war, but it still rankles…

…so, the government, ever worried that the military might decide someone with stars on his shoulders should be on charge of the country, take the hard-line, cutting off supply routes to NATO forces operating within their borders…

…but inevitably it’s not enough. Whether its an outright coup or a gentle push, the military decides democracy needs a break. They, or someone they back, take over Pakistan…

…and immediately distance themselves from the US, still regarded as a an enemy by much of the populace

…faced with a lack of Pakistani support and looking at plummeting approval ratings, President Obama balks at furthur military intervention in Pakistan. From there…

…the Taliban, still surviving like roaches, have a free hand to operate in western Pakistan with no air strikes and no ineffectual Pakistani army to stop them. And, of course, that means…

…that the US effort combating the Taliban becomes pointless. The insurgents can’t be defeated. It’d be like trying to eliminate the IRA and focusing all your efforts in the south of Ireland. The US can’t eliminate them and then…

…Summer 2011 rolls around. No real progress is being made in Afghanistan, Pakistan is unfriendly, and the Taliban are getting more and more aggressive. And the problem is…

…Obama is looking at an election he is no longer the favourite to win. It’s a war he never wanted in the first place and with that fractious relationship with the military, he’s done. And so…

…the Afghan wind-down begins. The US pull out, barring the troops left behind to do little more than guard immense fortresses…

…and within a very short period of time, the “free” part of Afghanistan is looking very small compared to that part that is being run by everyone’s favourite survivors: the Taliban…

…and the US, maybe with a new guy in charge, is content to look the other way and pretend it isn’t really happening, much like South Vietnam. Its’ regrettable but that’s just how it happens sometimes. But anyway…

…it doesn’t matter because the US didn’t lose in AfPak. No, no, no. It wasn’t a victory, but more of a “strategic reset”. The coalition did all that it could, but in the end, it’s not really their fault if the Taliban is back in charge. And of course…

…the inevitable fracturing of Afghanistan into different ethnic and tribal states is the result. Karzai gets to be king of his dirt hill, the Taliban get to go back to being the scum of the earth and Pakistan returns to being a military run state with its eyes locked on India.

And that’s the sound of the last domino falling.

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency (COIN), Middle East, Politics, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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