A Russian political analyst professor Igor Panarin had long back predicted the collapse of US and its division into several parts. The economic downturn and increasing expenses over wars including that in Afghanistan, the writer argues, have made the prediction possible. It might lead to a war of supremacy resulting in disturbance of peace.
As the days pass, the once seemingly foolish talk of US defeat in Afghanistan seems to translate into reality. Observing the situation in the country, Mr. Ban Ki- moon, the Secretary-General of United Nations, has recently stated that "We are now at a critical juncture." The failure of the anti¬terrorism mission in Afghanistan will signify the weakness of America and a war for supremacy is likely to be instigated with Russia being an important participant.
History repeats itself. The defeat of Soviet Union in Afghanistan confirmed that super power status was the possession of the United States. It is widely believed that the very mujahidin, whom America trained to fight Soviet Union, have turned Frankenstein. President Barrack Obama has stuck between giving into Americans' demand to the earliest withdrawal from Afghanistan-which does not suit before an apparent victory- and persistence on the presence of his army to avoid the label of 'defeat'. Presently, he has tried to make a way out by deciding to send 30,000 additional forces to Afghanistan while at the same time announcing the gradual withdrawal of his troops starting from 2011. However, it depends on how soon the Karzai government will be in a position to combat the insurgents on its own.
As per a recently released UN statement, the majority of incidents which are related to armed clashes, improvised explosive devices and stand-off attacks, have witnessed a 65 per cent increase in the third quarter of 2009 in comparison to the same period in 2008. It cites that in this period, an average of 1,244 incidents per month were recorded. According to an AFP tally, foreign casualties in 2009 reached record levels with the number of Americans dying in Afghanistan reaching double the 2008 toll. The total foreign deaths in 2009 were 506, of whom 310 were American. The suicide bombing on the CIA office is an eye-opener as regards security in the country.
The suicide bomber blew himself off killing seven experienced frontline Central Intelligence Agency officers and wounding six others at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province of Afghanistan. There might be difference over which outfit is actually behind the attack, as Al- Qaeda and both Pakistan and Afghanistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for it, but it is crystal- clear that these organizations are strong enough to challenge the security measures. What is more worrisome in this context is that the incident has created a kind of distrust between the allied forces and Afghan National Army because the bomber had put on the uniform of the latter.
Besides this, the close ally of US, Britain too has suffered huge losses in Afghanistan and around 5,000 of its soldiers have been diagonised with mental or physical illness and they have been declared unfit for frontline combat duties. A report submitted to the British parliament by the ministry of defence shows that the number accounts for 20% of the total British army infantry personnel deployed in the country. The report also makes a startling revelation that some of the soldiers are below the age of 18.
In the January 18 attack militants targeted even the presidential palace among the key government targets. It has come as a clear sign of escalating strength of the insurgents in Afghanistan.
Mr. Moon has warned that the continuing deteriorating situation in Afghanistan may endanger the expected stability of Afghanistan. "If the negative trends are not corrected, there is a risk that the deteriorating overall situation will become irreversible. We cannot afford this."
There are the reports that Taliban are getting hold of Afghanistan and they are waiting for the time when US supported government reaches its end. A senior intelligence officer with NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is believed to have said that the "insurgency is organised, increasingly effective and growing more cohesive." He said that "in 33 out of 34 provinces, the Taliban have a shadow government" and its leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has a "government-in-waiting, with ministers chosen" for the day the government falls. This testifies that time is running out and Taliban influence is expanding.
Actually, Taliban are exploiting the Achilles' heels and unpopularity of the Hamid Karzai's corrupt government. Much to their advantage is the nature of the Afghans which does not tolerate a foreign government ruling over them. Unfortunately for Karzai, he is considered the marionette of America. US could not succeed to convince Afghans that the government supported by it is in any way better than that of the Taliban. Peace, whatever may be the reason, still remains a dream for the common man.
Describing the current situation in Afghanistan, the veteran writer M J Akbar, writers in his article "A Date With Theocracy" that, "In the last eight years, for many Afghans, modernity has become synonymous with corruption, cronyism and non-Pakhtun warlords, the three hallmarks of the Karzai regime, while the Taliban have revived its image as God¬fearing, honest, clean and able to offer stability and security in the villages."
Of course, America has spent much on the forces deployed in Afghanistan but its war against so- called terrorism does not seem to avail much neither to USA nor to the rest of the world. Instead some countries, like Pakistan, have to pay the price for that and now it is reeling under extremism which have its roots in Afghanistan. The undue indulgence in wars with many countries and the unprecedented economic recession have mainly allowed people to say that now US may be vacating superpower office for any other country.
There is a view that Russia is preparing itself to snatch back this coveted status from US. However, it is not the final world in the story as, for example, China too is a big military giant. It is possible that an unending series of wars between US and any other country will be fought as the thing needed to gain supremacy is the demonstration of power. Unfortunately, despite all the advancement and progress of civilization, man finds his fellow beings the best target to show might and power. As always, the weak countries will have to bear the brunt of this would-be war.
It is most probable that Russia will lead the front. It has not been long since US had supported the Afghan mujahidin to fight a winning war against it. It is the only country that has the guts to challenge the US now.
Mr. Barrack Obama, last September announced dropping of plans pushed by his predecessor, George W. Bush of deploying parts of US missile shield in former East bloc states Poland and Czech Republic. Notably, it was strongly opposed by Moscow. Mr. Obama, nevertheless, made it clear that Washington would continue to develop new ballistic missiles defences in other locations.
We cannot say yet that a cold war has erupted between the two countries. However, the statement of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin might be taken as an indication towards it. He, following the footsteps of the President Dmitry Medvedev has echoed the same rhetoric in response to US, "To preserve the balance, we must develop offensive weapons systems, not missiles defence systems as the United States is doing." He also said that the problem of missile defence and offensive arms are closely linked.
Russia has been doing this for the past decade. A report prepared by Congressional Research Service titled "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2001-2008" reads that "from 2005-2008, the United States and Russia have dominated the arms market in the developing world, with both nations either ranking first or second for three out of four years in the value of arms transfer agreements." It further reads that both the countries made 59.6% of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations.
Prime Minister Putin's argument is that the domination of power by the US will upset balance and aggressiveness will immediately increase in real politics and economics. "By building such an umbrella over themselves our partners could feel themselves fully secure and will do whatever they want.
It needs courage and resources to talk in the tone Russia is doing with US, the superpower of today. One may easily opine that the shining sun of US has begun to set. In common, a superpower is considered to have the minimum power which makes every nation bow to its order and abide by its instructions. The US has lost courage to suppress at least Russia and Mr. Putin publically says, "Let the Americans hand over all their information on missile defence and we are ready to hand over all the information on offensive weapons systems." Such humiliating statement, had it been from any weak country it would have to face the wrath of US the least of which is the economic ban.
Though, it may be soothing for some the declination of US, it will leave its impact over the world affairs. US cannot easily vacant this seat. Therefore, there is valid fear that the fall of US will mark another era of colonialism. While many families will remember US for its aggression and cruelty whether it may be in Afghan and Iraq war or in many other policies, they, at the same time, will expect that the next super power will not follow its footsteps. *
By A Hameed Yousuf