Epic failure looming in Afghanistan, confidential intelligence report reveals

"Defending our freedom at the Hindu Kush."
A German soldier does his bit in Afghanistan. (Source: Bundeswehr) 

IF YOU HAVE BEEN suspecting that the Western governments’ prognoses for the ongoing armed occupation of Afghanistan are somewhat too rosy for belief, new confirmation has just arrived from Germany’s foreign intelligence service. What makes this report appear so genuine is the way it utterly contradicts the pro-war happy talk emanating from Berlin over the past eleven years. 

Fragging out of control

The confidential report, entitled “Afghanistan Until 2014: A Forecast,” assembled by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service or BND), has fallen into the hands of Der Spiegel, Germany’s hard-nosed investigative weekly news magazine. According to an article in today’s online edition, the regular fragging of NATO troops by Afghans in uniform – fifty-two cases already this year including one American this very morning, the two thousandth American soldier killed in the war – will increase over the next two years, rendering joint operations impossible.


There will be no improvement in the country’s general security situation, and the NATO program to reintegrate repentant Taliban fighters into society and into the domestic security forces will have “no effects” on any conceivable peace process. The report goes on to say that following the official withdrawal of NATO combat forces at the end of 2014, Afghanistan will still need up to 35,000 Western troops as army trainers, security troops, and particularly special forces, who will be needed to hunt down terrorists and keep the country from spiralling into utter chaos.


Endemic corruption and nepotism 

It gets worse. The BND report describes not only complete mission failure, but also utter dry rot from within the core of the Afghan government. “The susceptibility to corruption, personal advantage-taking by individuals and nepotism will continue.” As far as President Hamid Karzai is concerned, he has no intention of introducing reforms but is solely interested in “holding on to power” and “maintaining the status quo.” All his promises to the West are mere “statements of intent” with no follow through. According to the BND, upon his retirement in 2014, Karzai is determined to pass power to his elder brother Abdul Qayum “to preserve family interests and [his own] power.”

This is disastrous news for Germany’s own Afghan operation, which currently involves some 4,500 Bundeswehr troops who are largely engaged in “reconstruction” operations and the training of Afghan forces. The mission is wildly unpopular in Germany, although it is just distant enough that few people pay much attention to it, except when yet another German soldier comes home in a box, the victim of an IED or a Taliban sniper.


"Defending Germany's freedom at the Hindu Kush" 

Explaining the purpose of the war back in 2004, defense minister Peter Struck proclaimed “We are defending our security at the Hindu Kush,” a romantic-sounding formulation that conjures up the aura of adventure familiar to many Germans from Karl May’s imperial era action novels, which were full of derring-do about tough German expats like Kara ben Nemsi, out teaching the natives who’s boss in “wild Kurdistan” and the Arabian Desert.


 Old Shatterhand
Author Karl May (1842-1912) in the guise of his creation,
Old Shatterhand. While May may have sold himself to
his readers as an expert on the Hindu Kush and other exotic
locales, he scarcely left his native Saxony.
(Source: Wiki Commons)


Ah yes, the Hindu Kush! The very name of this forbidding mountain range on the borders to Pakistan, Tajikistan, and China conjures up visions of clear blue skies, icy mountain streams, juicy pomegranates, and bashful, dark-eyed maidens clad in rich robes. The reality has proven much more frustrating, and since Struck left office the slogan is usually remembered as “We are defending our freedom at the Hindu Kush,” a notion so absurd that the war itself has become something of a bad joke. In any case, Karl May's books don't pack the imperialist punch they once did.


Since the German war effort was a particular pet project of disgraced defense minister Baron Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg and his wife, Countess Stephanie von Bismarck, whatever popular enthusiasm ever existed for the project collapsed along with the once-charismatic Black Baron’s reputation. But it is generally understood here that Germany’s utter failure “at the Hindu Kush” has little to do with any errors committed by German forces, but are owing to the obvious futility of “state-building without a state.” Today’s Spiegel underlines that futility yet again.  


You’d think the confidential report might move Germans to wonder just what the hell their troops are defending at the Hindu Kush and ask them to stop. It’s more likely, though, that Germany’s latest military adventure will end, not with a bang, or even a whimper, but merely a labored yawn - the kind today's kids give to Karl May's tales of the Hindu Kush.





Views: 255

Comment by Alan Nothnagle on September 30, 2012 at 10:36am

I cross-posted this at OS. I find the format here at Our Salon much easier to manage! And I can't say I miss the spam...

Comment by tr ig on September 30, 2012 at 4:26pm

Epic fail? No kidding... been an epic fail since the beginning. Now just a really embarrassing epic fail. Maybe epic bleeding sin is better terminology. 

Comment by koshersalaami on October 1, 2012 at 4:29am

I haven't been able to figure out what we've been doing there for years. We went in to get Bin Laden. OK, done.

I'm experimenting. I'm here on OurSalon for at least a few days and won't be active on OS.

Comment by Alan Nothnagle on October 1, 2012 at 4:33am

Welcome, Kosher. Our Salon is VERY PLEASANT to work with, although the exposure is correspondingly limited. This piece has only registered 17 hits since yesterday, which isn't exactly overwhelming. I imagine the spambots read us over at OS, so that's at least one point in their favor!

Comment by Alan Milner on October 1, 2012 at 6:32am

Years ago, I had a discussion about these foreign wars with a friend of mine, who was a retird Marine Corps general.  His comment was that the real mission that justified the wars in Aghanistan and Iraq was that, by putting American troops in those countries, we were providing terrorists with more convenient targets of opportunity for them to vent their frustrations on.  The idea of staking out our troops as sacraficial lambs for slaughter by Al Qaeda forces really disgusted me....but he just replied:  "Hey, would you rather have terrorists hitting unarmed and unprepared civilians, or would you rather have them attacking fully armed troopers who have the ability to fight back?"  From that day to this one, I haven't heard a more ratioinal explanation of what we're doing in those countries.  Ugly, but rational.   And it's working.  So far.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 3, 2012 at 5:12am


I wonder. It has a bizarre logic. I'm not sure I buy it, but it has a logic.

Comment by koshersalaami on October 3, 2012 at 6:58am

Sorry. Alan Milner.

Comment by Alan Milner on October 3, 2012 at 7:02am

Actually, I have heard several senior officers say the same thing in public, but not recently.  And, honestly, Jim was a rather questionable person since his entire career was in special ops and since he disappeared without a trace around a year ago. 

Comment by Alan Milner on October 3, 2012 at 7:03am

Jim was the general in question. Sorry.

Comment by tr ig on October 3, 2012 at 8:12am

I find the disappeared special ops General's explanation absolutely absurd. There may have been good enough legitimate reason to go into Afghanistan-- busting up terrorist training camps, "getting" Bin Laden, etc., but Iraq... huh uh. To my mind, the predominate reason for both were motivated.. pushed by the MIC who hadn't had as much business as they like. Billions borrowed per month went to war contractors. Halliburton with carte blanche contracts. All about money for the righties buddies and themselves. NOTHING to do with protecting US from "terrorist"


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