Washington Must Learn to See Its War in Afghanistan as al-Qaeda Does

April 30 2019

As President Trump and his advisers consider whether to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, Clifford May urges them to see the war there as America’s enemies do: a single theater in a much larger war that began with the fall of the Ottoman empire, if not even earlier:

In 1998, [Osama bin Laden] signed a fatwa on behalf of the “World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders,” proclaiming that killing “Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.” [But] scant attention was paid until a few months later when two American embassies in Africa were bombed. . . .

If our troops are to remain in Afghanistan, they should have a mission that is both clear and achievable, one that strengthens American national security. Transforming Afghanistan into a liberal democracy seems unlikely. Definitively defeating the Taliban may require more resources that can be made available at a time when we have other battles to fight and other adversaries to keep in check.

A third option [would entail] gradually and painstakingly strengthening the ability of the Afghan government to defend itself, and ensure that the country never again is used as a safe haven, training ground, and command center for large-scale international terrorist attacks. . . . If what I’m describing is a mission impossible, the only sensible alternative is to retreat from the battlefield. But in that case we should be honest with ourselves about this slow-motion failure, and learn from it. We should imagine the benefits that will accrue to our enemies globally and plan accordingly. . . .

Afghanistan is a battle in a war that began in the distant past; a war that we’re not yet winning; a war that is likely to go on for years to come. Many Americans and Europeans find the prospect of such an “endless war” intolerable. Our enemies, by contrast, are patient and determined. The advantage this gives them should not be underestimated.

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More about: Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, Taliban, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror

 

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror