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  November - December 2006

urrent Affairs
Whither the US war

Isthe United States any closer to winning its war on terror than it was in 2001? This question has been haunting more and more people especially after the recent reports of resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the seemingly unending strikes by suicide bombers in Iraq.

The US, the mightiest military power in human history, has used every weapon in its armory, minus the nuclear bomb, in Afghanistan, and has deployed 160,000 of its troops including the crack marines in Iraq. Yet there has not been a single day of peace in either country since the US-led invasion.
The civilian death toll in Iraq has exceeded 600,000, and this year's tally to date is 30,000 plus which includes 3,000 US servicemen too. But there is still no let up in the violence and bloodshed in Iraq. Even the elected Iraqi government leaders feel safe only in the heavily guarded and the US-manned Green Zone.

The situation in Afghanistan where the NATO is commanding the coalition troops is even worse than Iraq. There too the death toll has kept rising and the situation threatens to get out of control in the wake of the new insurgency by the Taliban. Like Iraq, an elected government has been installed in Kabul under the NATO umbrella. But the writ of that government is practically confined to the capital Kabul. The exact number of Afghans dead in the war is not known but it runs into thousands; the civilian casualties are far higher than the military ones.

Why this stalemate? The problem, it seems, is want of proper strategy and focus, on the part of the US. The war on terror cannot be won by military means alone. The US and its allies must also pay attention to the causes of terrorism, and take political and diplomatic measures simultaneously to remove those causes and conflicts which have been giving rise to desperation among the affected people and driving them to terrorism. The military action should be confined to fighting the real terrorist elements. Besides, the US-led coalition must also discriminate between terrorists and freedom fighters. , , ,, ,

Some countries with their own axe to grind, have also jumped on the US bandwagon.Their baggage is a big burden on the US. As a result, the US has been making more enemies than friends in its fight against terrorism. For the US' Iraq venture to find support among the Arab masses efforts to settle the Palestinian issue should have continued simultaneously.lnstead, the US seems to have forgotten all about its Middle East road map to peace and given carte blanche to Israel to go about with its killing spree. It has been attacking the Palestinian civilians by land and air unchecked by any international body .This would neither eliminate terrorism nor win the US any friends in the Middle East.

In the sub-continent, India has been trying to exploit the US' anti-terrorism drive to suppress the Kashmiris' freedom struggle. The US should not let itself be taken for a ride by Israel or India. The freedom fighters in Kashmir are not terrorists by any stretch of imagination.

For the US fight against terrorism to succeed it must discriminate between terrorists and freedom fighters. The UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be invoked to find a definition of who is a terrorist and who is not. State terrorism has also to be defined and fought against on the same basis as the war against terrorist outfits.