June 25, 2010

General McChrystal's Mistake

President Barack Hussein Obama fired his top general in Afghanistan due to insubordination. General McChrystal was fired because he was audacious enough to discuss what he thought of the Obama administration in public. There are some very important lessons hidden beneath all this drama for us Pakistanis, and particularly our civilian and military leadership. But I’ll get to those later. First, let me discuss the reasons that have led to the fall of the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

On the face of it, it appears as though McChrystal lost his job for saying some off the hook remarks against the Obama administration. The one that I particularly enjoyed was the one in which McChrystal is claimed to have said that he seized control of the war “by never taking his eyes of the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.” Witty it might be but it also holds some valuable intel for us. It became clear of late, and very clear as of recently, that Obama is hell-bent on the recall of the US troops. Fact of the matter is that the US is the only country that is in fact fighting the war in Afghanistan. All other countries have backed off, or have made their intentions to back off extremely clear. Fact also is that the recall of the US forces’ will plunge not only Afghanistan, but the entire region into chaos. We already know, despite many of us denying it, that major areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are under the siege of the Taliban. These terrorists move with impunity to and from Pakistan into Afghanistan and vice versa. So the question is: Who’s to stop them from becoming even more dangerous and ferocious if the retrieval of US armed forces goes ahead as planned?

It is also important to note what happens when you engage the Taliban (read terrorists) into the political system, like is happening currently in Afghanistan. They make demands and the powers that be fulfill them. They fail to keep their side of the deal and voila: they’re better off at terrorizing everyone than they were before. I make these claims because I have seen these men employ such tactics in Pakistan. The Swat deal, and the imposition of Sharia etc are prime examples. My reason for stating this is simply to apprise the world of the situation that would arise if the US decides to call it a day in Afghanistan. So Mr. President Obama, you should’ve listened to good old Stan before firing him for demanding more troops.

Now onto the question of those people who state that if the US leaves, things will return to normal. I beg to differ because only crazy and obnoxious people can reach such conclusions and give out such far-reaching statements. If the US leaves, the fear of repercussions will be struck from these murderous hooligans hearts. The true picture is that all the madness in the jubilation of these sinful crazies for “driving away the US” and “winning the war”, will be unleashed upon us poor hapless citizens; and I am sure, none of us wants that. Already we are in the midst of a foreign policy overhaul whereby our army is once again attempting to label India as our enemy number 1. This causes a strategic problem for all the actors involved. Who is going to fight the remnants of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban if Pakistan decides to revert its forces towards its east border?

Now the official reason given for the removal of General McChrystal may as well be that he violated official protocol, but there is no doubt that there was heat between Obama and McChrystal from the start. The Rolling Stones article confirms that. The major question is, how will the effect of a US pullout from Afghanistan reflect in Pakistan?

Anyway, the technicalities aside, it has to be said that the US is indeed a true democracy. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the US but look at the way this whole drama was handled. McChrystal was fired by a civilian Commander-in-Chief President for maligning and disagreeing with him because he can. I bet Zardari ached with envy when he found out what Obama had done. Although in retrospect I do believe the vice versa of the Obama-McChrystal episode is more applicable here. Had any “bloody civilian” President dared to question the antics of an army general in Pakistan, the general would’ve fired the President. Alas, such is the state of the Motherland.

To conclude then, the stay of the US forces is a must for the existence of Afghanistan; for a deterrent to the terrorists, and for sanity to prevail in the region.