Objectives of Pakistan’s adversaries remain unaccomplished

By Asif Haroon Raja


The US is the strongest military and economic power of the world but its behavior is amateurish and childish and doesn’t correspond to its stature, strength and capability. After 2nd World War, it never clashed directly with an adversary matching its capabilities but always attacked very weak foes. Like a typical bully, it prefers tiny David over giant Goliath and clobbers the former mercilessly but as luck would have it, USA didn’t even succeed against David. After North Korean fiasco in 1953-54, its physical strength was put to test in Vietnam where it got embroiled with small-height, impoverished and ill-equipped Vietcong under inspiring leadership of Ho-chi-Minh in North Vietnam who were no match to the well fed, tall and strongly built GIs backed up with massive sophisticated military and technological resources. They wanted to succeed where French had failed against Vietminh led by Gen Giap (1946-54). During its ten-year stay (1964-1974), the US military applied maximum force to annihilate the opponents. It dropped 7.8 million tons of bombs including napalms and mustard gas, sprayed 75 million litres of defoliants including Dioxin over fields, forests and villages causing 7 million casualties including 3 million dead. Despite wholesale massacre and destruction the Americans failed to break the will and resilience of Vietnamese to fight back. The resistance forces were covertly backed by USSR and China since the two considered it their moral duty to provide material assistance to the beleaguered neighbor believing in same ideology.

When the casualties of US soldiers began to mount and reached the figure of 58000 fatalities and home pressure intensified, adamant US leadership instead of winding up the war extended it to Cambodia under the warped logic that unless safe sanctuaries of Vietcong in neighboring Cambodia were neutralized, victory in Vietnam War was not possible. Additional troops were sought to expand the scope of war. When this experiment failed after massacring tens of thousands of Cambodians, USA had to finally eat a humble pie and order retreat in sheer disgust and disgrace.

Stewing in the juice of humiliation, the US got an opportunity to avenge its disgrace when Soviets forces barged into Afghanistan and Mujahideen backed up by Pakistan confronted them at their own. Instead of jumping into the fray and battling with Soviet forces in an even match, USA decided to resort to indirect strategy. It provoked and backed Mujahideen to directly take on Soviet troops and Afghan Army to liberate Afghanistan. It also lured Pakistan through $3.5 billion aid package to act as a frontline state and undertake a proxy war. Its forces stayed out of the Afghan war since USA had learnt a bitter lesson of direct confrontation in North Korea and North Vietnam.

Thanks to outstanding fight put up by rag tag Mujahideen and immense sacrifices rendered by them and Pakistan, Afghan war was decisively won and Soviet forces pushed out. When it came to collecting awards, the US stood alone on the victory stand and gathered all of them leaving the actual winners high and dry. The US having avenged its dishonor in Vietnam with the help of others declared itself a winner without losing a single soldier.

This grand success which drastically truncated USSR and reduced it into Commonwealth of Independent States, ended bi-polarism and made USA the sole super power. This unprecedented elevation went into the heads of arrogant US leaders and they started viewing America as the mightiest and invincible. They forgot that their military had played no role in the defeat and demise of Soviet Union. Drunk with power and megalomania, they wanted to punish the very forces that had elevated USA to prestigious position of unchallenged super power and had put their lives at stake. Afghanistan under Taliban was among the most impoverished countries of the world, devoid of armed forces and technological base.

Regardless of their handicaps, the Americans forgot that Afghanistan was the traditional graveyard of many mighty empires where it was easy to get in but far more difficult to get out. They wanted to succeed where none had succeeded. Soviet Union jumped into the inferno of Afghanistan because of paranoia of Islamic resurgence. It had the advantage of geographic contiguity and dedicated logistic tail. It had strong political roots in Afghanistan in the form of Khalq and Parcham parties, had a heavy presence of military advisers and had committed 150000 troops at the outset. Yet it failed in its mission and had to withdraw. US leaders were so buoyed up with the prospects of commercial gains from Central Asia that they completely overlooked US military handicaps. To hide their real motives they raised false slogans of freedom and democracy and demonized Taliban, with whom US UNOCOL was in secret contacts. They ignored over 1.5 million human losses of Mujahideen, mostly Afghans and the brilliant work done by ISI under Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman and later under Gen Hameed Gul. Read more of this post

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