CD:So do you think that this American strategy of flexing its muscles, troop surge and the desire to negotiate from a position of strength is a wrong strategy?
ZH: Yes. This strategy is getting the United States more and more into a quagmire.
CD: Is this the reason why the insurgency is not abating and the Taliban are getting stronger and stronger?
ZH: Yes, this is one of the major reasons. Recently the Americans claimed that the night raids have worked and it has allowed them to eliminate a large number of mid-level insurgent commanders, but the constant rise of Taliban attacks show that this strategy, too, has not been affective.
Another thing is that the major problem for the Americans now is the widening gap between the NATO forces and the Afghans counterparts. This is a much greater issue for the US at this point of time because this brings into question the US strategy of building up an Afghan army which can take over from the Americans the responsibility of providing security once NATO leaves.
CD:So the Afghan army that the US is trying to build is not ready to take up that responsibility once the US eventually leaves?
ZH: That is the thing – the Afghan army is not ready. There is so much resentment and animosity between the two that obviously this could not work.
CD: What is likely to happen when the US leaves Afghanistan? Will there be a civil war? Will the insurgents go face to face with the Afghan army that the US is trying to build?
ZH: There is certainly a much greater probability of Afghanistan returning to a civil war if there is no negotiated settlement before the Americans leave the country. There is also a fear that, if a bloody civil war breaks out, the Afghan national army could disintegrate.
CD:Are the Americans aware of this possibility? Do they have the will to prevent such a scenario?
ZH: The only way the US can prevent a civil war is by reaching some sort of a negotiated settlement with the Taliban; allow them to become a part of the transition government, etc. But if this does not happen, and there is no sign of this happening, then the best chance of avoiding a civil war is gone.
Half of America doesn’t even know why we’re in Afghanistan
, but the answer isn’t Ron-Paul-esque: withdrawing now
is not a choice.