US defeat won’t be Afghan victory
By Pervez Hoodbhoy, The Express Tribune, March 26, 2012 -
Ever since US Sergeant Robert Bales surrendered after calmly massacring Afghan women and children, he has been depicted as a man under unusual personal circumstances. A high-ranking US official told the New York Times: “When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues – he just snapped”. Unlike those sentenced to death by drones flying high over Waziristan, Bales will enjoy a thorough investigation. Whisked out of Afghanistan, he may or may not ever be convicted. If convicted, the penalty is unlikely to exceed a few prison years; “good behaviour” may qualify him for an early parole.
Although President Obama and Secretary Clinton habitually apologise to the Afghan people after every such atrocity — of which there is a long list — the fact that they happen is inevitable. Indian troops in Kashmir, and Pakistani soldiers in Balochistan, have not behaved any differently. At the core, the problem is the forcible occupation by an army of another country or people.
The Bales case has added one more reason for cash-strapped Americans to leave, speeding up the endgame. President Obama has announced plans to shift US forces to a supporting role next year and pull out most of the 90,000 U.S. troops in the country by late 2014, with 23,000 gone by this October. US Republicans — strong enthusiasts for overseas wars and interventions — are now criticising Obama for being too slow! Rick Santorum, a leading presidential candidate, said last week “We have to either make the decision to make a full commitment, which this president has not done, or we have to decide to get out, and probably get out sooner.” A day earlier, Newt Gingrich declared in even more direct terms that it was time to leave the country.
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