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West won't win Afghan war says ex-UN envoy Ashdown

geo

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http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSL1758817

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By Darren Ennis

BRUSSELS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - International forces are unlikely to win their battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, risking a regional conflict that could match the magnitude of previous world wars, a former top U.N. envoy said on Wednesday. Lord Paddy Ashdown -- former United Nations high representative and European Union special representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina -- said failure by the NATO-led force would have far wider repercussions than any losses in Iraq.

He called for the appointment of a high-level coordinator to lead the foreign mission in Afghanistan.

"I think we are losing in Afghanistan now, we have lost I think and success is now unlikely," he told Reuters in an interview.

"I believe losing in Afghanistan is worse than losing in Iraq. It will mean that Pakistan will fall and it will have serious implications internally for the security of our own countries and will instigate a wider Shiite, Sunni regional war on a grand scale."

"Some people refer to the First and Second World Wars as European civil wars and I think a similar regional civil war could be initiated by this (failure) to match this magnitude," Ashdown added.

The number of Taliban suicide attacks in Afghanistan -- more than 100 so far this year -- is set to top last year's record of 123, the United Nations says, and most victims are civilians.

The Taliban have increased the number of suicide attacks after suffering heavy casualties in conventional clashes with foreign forces and the Afghan army, security analysts say.

HIGH-LEVEL COORDINATOR

While Western forces, alongside the Afghan army, have claimed victories against Taliban rebels in the south, many remote areas and some towns remain under rebel control and insurgent attacks have also spread north to regions previously considered safe.

Frustration with the government over the slow pace of development, official corruption and the lack of law and order have all played into rebel hands.

Ashdown, a former British Liberal Party leader, said there was a "desperate need for somebody to coordinate the international efforts" and called for the appointment of someone to lead the foreign mission in Afghanistan.

"Unless somebody has the power genuinely to coordinate and unify the international approach, we will lose and I think that is happening," he said.

"It's not about who does the job, but what is the job and if the international community has the will to put together a post which has the authority, including the Americans, then they must do it now if they are to stand any chance."

But Ashdown, who now heads the Brussels-based EU-Russia Centre think tank, had been tipped in some circles for such a role, but ruled himself out of the job.

"I never talk about approaches, but what I will say is that I have had many high-level jobs and I am not looking for any big jobs at the moment. I am happy doing what I am doing with Russia," he said.

Here is an interesting thought....

NATO pulls out of Afghanistan at the end of it's mandate
The Pakistani government falls to the fundamentalists
Then Iran wades in and throw it's influence around...

Once NATO pulls out of Afghanistan, does anyone imagine they would turn around and come back if conditions worsened?
Are we headed for a period of Isolationism?
 

Flip

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Ah, if only it could be that simple.

I know a lot of anti-war sentiment is centred around the naive
notion of "leave that side of the world to those who live there".

An new cold war? No way.....It won't stay cold or even luke warm for long.

Some splinter group will agitate for the destruction of Israel or the US
and THEY WILL GET THEIR WISH ..... WW4.

I think Putin is riding a tiger in supporting Iran.
How and when will he get off?
Maybe he's trying to make Russia the last to get eaten.

No ... If NATO tosses in the sponge we're all in for a world of hurt.

My vaguely connected & rambling notions anyway.








 

GAP

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geo said:
Here is an interesting thought....

NATO pulls out of Afghanistan at the end of it's mandate
The Pakistani government falls to the fundamentalists
Then Iran wades in and throw it's influence around...

Once NATO pulls out of Afghanistan, does anyone imagine they would turn around and come back if conditions worsened?
Are we headed for a period of Isolationism?

If NATO pulls out of Afghanistan, there is a strong likelyhood Pakistan will become fundamentalist with the turmoil created by Iran, and the dominos will rush into falling in most of the "stan's
 

Falange

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Or we can have a distasteful Balkanization of Central Asia... Uzbekis, Pashto, Kirgis, Sindhis and others have a long history of not getting along and fighting lots... Pulling out draws a very nasty picture if you ask me
 

Kirkhill

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The silly notion is that there is and end-game where everybody gets to go home.  There is no way out. 

It was right to go in.  It is right to train up the local forces.  But there is always going to be a border somewhere, or a constitution or a President or a business deal that somebody doesn't like.  There will always be flash points and crisis resolution will be faster if the locals are backed up by an international force. 

If you get into a discussion with your neighbour who are you going to trust to resolve it?  Your neighbour's buddy or the local constabulary?

We are in the state we are just now precisely because "The Winds of Change" blew the old imperial order away too violently with no thought for what the world would look like with weak governments.
 

GAP

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In the long scheme of things, would it not make more sense to allow areas to Balkanize according to tribal/religious areas? This arbitrary practise of drawing artificial lines/borders along waterways/mountains, etc. with no flavor as to whom they affect is just asking for future turmoil.

A classic example is the Kurds being spread out over 4 countries....
 

geo

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Gap,
Do you think the Shia & Suni internal problems would be enough to prevent them from rising against the "great satan"?

Anyhow...
Saw the news last night.  The 2 bomb salute given to returning Pakistani PM Bhuto is one heck of a sign of what's to come. 

Time to strap on the old helmet & man the ramparts.
 

a_majoor

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GAP said:
In the long scheme of things, would it not make more sense to allow areas to Balkanize according to tribal/religious areas? This arbitrary practise of drawing artificial lines/borders along waterways/mountains, etc. with no flavor as to whom they affect is just asking for future turmoil.

A classic example is the Kurds being spread out over 4 countries....

As Robert Kaplan noted in Balkan Ghosts, every aggreived party "only" wants a return to their historical boundaries. Unfortunatly, these boundaries usually coincide with the greatest extent of their historical expansion/empire. We even have a local example: Native bands in BC have land claims totalling 110% of the land area of the province.

We will have future turmoil no matter what; best for us if we get really good in conflict management and peace enforcement.
 

Falange

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a_majoor I could not agree with you more. What happened during the 1990s in Afghanistan clearly reflects this. The Taliban did not stop when it had total control of the Pashto speaking provinces of Afghanistan. indeed, they just had to keep expanding north into the other non-Pashto provinces of the country as they wanted to exercise full control of the whole country. I am sure they did not want the Uzbekis, Persians and others doing their thing in a non-Pasho Wahabist way
 

Flip

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No doubt about this.

We will have future turmoil no matter what; best for us if we get really good in conflict management and peace enforcement.

As for those rambling lines on maps. They probably didn't seem so arbitrary at the time.
I guess it call comes down to a balance of forces; social, economic and military.

Germany was divided for some pretty specific reasons - and Europe needed the
break anyway.  ;D
 

Fishbone Jones

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All good points. However, what jumped at me from the article was that it sounded like Lord Paddy Ashdown was trying to create a job for himself. ::) IF, that being part of the case, it makes HIS whole assessment suspect.
 
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