Most aspects of life are often imitated by art and games. In the case of politics especially, the game of chess parallels with power politics and represents the art of politics and its structural order. Political analysts often use chess as a metaphor to describe world affairs. The states and people move around the board struggling to make incremental gains. Using the metaphorical assist, an analysis would be drawn to help answer the big question of the US’s next move in Afghanistan.
After almost 17 years of America’s longest war, the United States owes the American people a realistic assessment on its next move. The United States’ role in Afghanistan is still questionable. In accordance, it has three options: it can help stabilise the afghan government and limit its stay on the ground, or the United States could withdraw its forces, on the premise that it cannot “win” in Afghanistan, or the United States could acknowledge and resolve that its presence in Afghanistan is essentially permanent.
Even though Obama’s administration had certain deadlines but Trump’s new Afghan-policy is a great question mark on US’s presence in South Asia. On the other hand, Pakistan-US relations are always affected by the new US strategies in Afghanistan. However, Trump led US administration seems to have a long term strategy in Afghanistan which is easily cleared by its new policy.
Keeping in view that the major US objective is not allowing the Taliban to win. Even in the current situation, with the adopted foreign policy, the United States is losing in Afghanistan or at least not winning and should abandon the effort. But a simple win-loss dynamic is the wrong way to think about a17-year-old war.
After a long war of attrition, the Americans have realised they are drowning in their own trench
“The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must” to date, Thucydides thesis is relevant in global politics as the powerful still define the world political affairs. However, the next move can be critical for America considering their options and in metaphorical terms it has cost them to lose many key pieces.
America is like a queen on the chess board which has maximum power but limited in numbers, whereas, Afghan Taliban are like the pawns that don’t have the power but due to their numbers they can cause fatal and some serious damage to the region.
In the current scenario, with the options available for US, it has to play wisely and with patience to turn their failure into some victory. The US started this war by militarising the common people in 1970’s to defeat Russia with the help of Pakistan. Now, after a long fought war, the US has realized that they are drowning in the trench they created them self.
With the world moving away from Unipolar to see other powers emerging, the United States has to take concrete steps to get back in the game before they are trapped from all the sides. In order to secure their position, the United States has to find a permanent solution to the Afghan war. Keeping in mind the knowledge from history and recent activities, it seems quite obvious that the Afghan people have never accepted an outside ruler.
America has been trying to have a strong hold by mean of power and local investment, but they have come to a conclusion that their struggle is all going down the drain. The US should understand the fact that it’s a tit for tat situation, and every action has a reaction. In order to clean the mess, they have to go back to those common people and let them decide their fate.
US intends to stay in Afghanistan militarily for the foreseeable future, that defines US motives and goals as US on the other hand, will not have a complete victory and is ready for partial success on military, diplomatic, and political fronts. This creates doubts about US’ real intentions to its parties and stakeholders, the same way US is trying to stay in the region to contain China as China’s power is rising due to economic development, becoming the biggest threat for US interest in the region.
The only possible solution that seems to make sense is to clear the country from foreign insurgency as US has to play wisely now and let the people who seem to understand the local culture and governance system decide their future and their destiny. If America couldn’t force any system on the Afghan people since 2001, how can they picture it in future with more input of power?
Indeed, the solution lies with the people themselves, since it is obvious that by accepting the defeat America might save many of its resources and future loss. The US Administration needs to hold talk with Afghan Taliban and bring them in a circle of the governance system accepting their demands and imposing the rule of law. In case, other incentives push American administration towards other options, it might face the same consequences, and Afghanistan will repeat history by becoming the graveyard of another major power.
The writer is an MPhil student
Published in Daily Times, June 4th 2018.