On Target: Fraser admits West failed Afghanistan
By Scott Taylor
Last week there was a lot of fuss in the media over the fact that retired Maj.-Gen. David Fraser admitted that Canada and the West had blundered in Afghanistan.
In Fraser’s opinion, the U.S.-led military alliance should have focused on eliminating the al-Qaeda elements while leaving the Taliban to govern the country. By ousting the Taliban and using military resources to battle their followers, the U.S. created a power vacuum that, despite the best of intentions, has yet to be filled in Afghanistan.
The current situation on the ground is that the only impediment to the regrouped Taliban regaining complete control of that war-ravaged nation is the fact that they are locked in a bitter struggle against Daesh. That’s right folks — after we spent more than a decade fighting the Taliban, it turns out that they might be the only ones capable of preventing Daesh from creating another caliphate in Central Asia.
For those who closely observed Afghanistan — before and after the U.S. invasion in 2001 — Fraser’s comments come as no surprise. The rise in popularity of the fundamentalist Taliban during the 1990s was a direct result of the population suffering at the hands of the disparate warlords that preyed upon them. After the U.S. had ousted the Taliban, however, these same warlords were dusted off and given titles such as cabinet minister.
Sure, Western advisers and observers staged bogus elections, wherein the people could ‘vote in’ their local warlord, but everyone knew this was a sham. Of course, that is not what the observers told the media.
For years, Canada’s youngest ambassador ever, Chris Alexander, would tell any media visitor to his embassy in Kabul that Afghanistan was always just one schoolhouse away from being a complete success. Caught up in the headlines of being promoted at such a young age to such a high profile post, Alexander repeatedly portrayed the Afghan mission as a success for the simple reason that he needed it to be, in order for him to live up to his own hype.
The regime of President Hamid Karzai and his collection of warlords was arguably the most corrupt government on the planet, yet our military commanders, such as Fraser, were sent to prop up this corrupt cabal.
Had people in authority, such as Alexander, revealed the truth about the Karzai regime at the time, one can bet that the Canadian population’s appetite to continue spilling blood and gold on that doomed endeavour would have dried up well before we finally pulled the plug. The mainstream media are also to blame for not aggressively challenging the rationale behind Canadian soldiers fighting on behalf of a detested Afghan government.
History has shown us that by God, when Afghans want to fight, they can certainly fight. Alexander the Great learned that lesson; the British Empire learned that lesson; and the mighty Soviet Union learned that lesson.
The question we should have been repeatedly asking is: Why do the Afghans who we train and equip not want to fight and die for President Karzai? And if they don’t want to spill their own blood battling the Taliban, why should we send our soldiers?
Instead, our reporters jostled to get embedded with our troops in order to send home a view of Afghanistan as seen through Canadian gunsights.
Fraser did not limit himself to the failure in Afghanistan. He also pointed out the massive failure of the West’s 2011 intervention in Libya.
Under the leadership of Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, the NATO air alliance and special forces troops ensured the ouster of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi. Unfortunately, as the Canadian military rushed back to Ottawa to stage an elaborate victory parade on Parliament Hill, the disparate militias that had formed the anti-Gadhafi rebel alliance began fighting among themselves. As a result, the power vacuum left by the murder of Gadhafi has reduced Libya to a failed state, and a veritable haven for Islamic extremists and human traffickers.
There is now discussion among NATO nations that the crisis we created in Libya is too dangerous to ignore, and there are already indications that another international intervention is imminent. This time, let’s hope that there is a solid plan to restore a functioning government, and not simply depose the existing ones. As David Fraser will attest, power vacuums result in failure.