Dengan makin banyaknya korban-korban tentara NATO yang tewas tiap hari di Afghanistan, serta makin mendekatnya jadwal penarikan tentara AS dari Afghanistan, yaitu Juli 2011 sebagaimana dijanjikan oleh Presiden AS Barack Obama, maka makin besar pula tekanan kepada Pemerintah AS dan Afghanistan untuk menghentikan Perang di Afghanistan yang sudah berjalan 9-tahun melalui perundingan dengan pimpinan Taliban.
Untuk mengurangi korban tewas dari pihak tentara NATO dan untuk membunuh para Pimpinan menegah Taliban, AS menggunakan banyak sekali serangan pesawat-pesawat terbang tanpa awak “Predator drones”. Antara bulan Juni- September 2010 saja, pewawat2 Predator drones itu telah menjatuhkan sebanyak 2.100 bom atau missile ke arah konsentrasi-konsentrasi tentara Taliban. Serangan-serangan itu tentu saja tidak hanya membunuh tentara Taliban, tetapi juga penduduk sipil, anak-anak dan wanita yang tidak berdosa.
Jendral Petraeus, Pemimpin tentara NATO di Afghanistan yang menggantikan Jendral McCrystal, sebelumnya memang menggunakan takitik yang serupa di medan perang Iraq, sehingga dapat dibentuk Pemeritahan di Iraq yang didukung oleh semua pihak, walaupun sampai saat ini belum juga terbentuk Pemerintahan Iraq yang benar-benar kuat.
Jendral McCrystal sebelumnya pernah meng-kritik kebijakan AS ini, bahwa taktik penghancuran konsentrasi-konsentrasi tentara Taliban tidak akan pernah berhasil untuk membawa mereka ke meja perundingan. Kritik ini telah membuat marah Pemerintahan Presiden Obama, sehingga akhirnya McCrystal dicopot dari jabatannya. Sebaliknya taktik ini malah akan membuat marah dan kebencian kepada tentara NATO, dan membalas mereka dengan serangan-serangan bom bunuh diri.
Kesalahan utama sebenarnya ada di pihak-pihak yang mengobarkan Perang Iraq dan Perang Afghanistan, dua negara berdaulat yang diserang dengan alasan-alasan yang tidak jelas serta dibuat-buat, seperti telah terbukti. Sekarang para penyerang itu terkena getahnya, mereka akan sulit meninggalkan medan perang dengan kemenangan total seperti yang mereka harapkan.
Apakah sejarah Perang Vietnam akan terulang kembali, dengan penarikan tentara AS secara tergesa-gesa dan dipermalukan oleh tentara Ho Chi Minh sehingga terpaksa AS mengakui kedaulatan Vietnam seperti sekarang? Kejadian tersebut diatas juga merupakan kegagalam PBB yang membiarkan negara-negara Adikuasa untuk menyerang negara-negara kecil, dan bukannya membiarkan mereka menyelesaikan perselisihan domestik mereka.
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct 15, 2010 — Airstrikes on Taliban insurgents have risen sharply here over the past four months, the latest piece in what appears to be a coordinated effort by American commanders to bleed the insurgency and pressure its leaders to negotiate an end to the war.
American pilots pounded the Taliban with 2,100 bombs or missiles from June through September, with 700 in September alone, Air Force officers here said Thursday. That is an increase of nearly 50 percent over the same period last year, the records show.
The stepped-up air campaign is part of what appears to be an intensifying American effort, orchestrated by Gen. David H. Petraeus, to break the military stalemate here as pressure intensifies at home to bring the nine-year-old war to an end. In recent weeks, General Petraeus has increased raids by Special Forces units and launched large operations to clear territory of Taliban militants.
And it seems increasingly clear that he is partly using the attacks to expand a parallel path to the end of the war: an American-led diplomatic initiative, very much in its infancy but ultimately aimed at persuading the Taliban — or large parts of the movement — to make peace with the Afghan government.
In recent weeks, American officials have spoken approvingly in public of new contacts between Taliban leaders and the Afghan government. On Wednesday they acknowledged their active involvement by helping Taliban leaders travel to Kabul to talk peace.
On the diplomatic front, Afghan leaders said Thursday that they were seeing what they believed were the first positive signs from the Taliban. In a news conference in Kabul, Burhanuddin Rabbani, the leader of a council charged with making peace, said that discussions with Taliban leaders — carried out through third parties — were under way.
“The Taliban have not rejected peace completely,” said Mr. Rabbani, a former Afghan president. They want the talks “to take place,” he added.
For all the efforts, American and Afghan officials were quick to play down any suggestion that peace was at hand — or even remotely near. Most of the Taliban leaders, if not the movement’s foot soldiers, have given no sign that they are willing to make any sort of deal.
Even on the battlefield, there are few indications that the large increase in firepower ordered by President Obama is having the intended effect. With the American-led war moving through its bloodiest phase since 2001, more American and NATO soldiers have been killed this year than at any time since the war began. In the past two days alone, at least 14 members of the Western forces here have been killed.
Indeed, senior American officials, gathering Thursday at a NATO conference in Brussels, indicated that they were trying to energize a peace process about whose contours and duration they could only guess.
“We just — you know, we need to be open to opportunities that arise,” Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said in Brussels.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and his advisers have been trying for months to engage the Taliban’s leaders about the possibilities of ending the war. In part, Mr. Karzai and his team are motivated by concerns about Mr. Obama’s plan to begin reducing the number of American forces here by next July.
So far, those diplomatic efforts have come to naught. Pakistani officials helped scuttle one incipient dialogue that was unfolding earlier this year.
For their part, the Taliban’s leaders have mostly dismissed the possibility of making a deal with Mr. Karzai’s government, declaring — not without reason — that time is on their side.
American officers said the intensified airstrikes were possible because of better intelligence, which enables pilots to be more precise in their attacks. Much of that intelligence, the officers said, is being supplied by remotely piloted aircraft like the Predator drones, which have flooded the skies in recent months.
According to the Air Force’s statistics, remotely piloted vehicles have flown more than 21,000 sorties so far this year, already surpassing the roughly 19,000 drone flights for all of last year. The targets for many of the airstrikes have been insurgents who were building or planting homemade bombs, which are the most prolific killers of American and NATO troops.
“We have been able to find a lot of places where they are putting these things together,” said Col. Jim Sturgeon, chief of air operations for NATO.
So far, the greater number of airstrikes does not appear to have resulted in more civilian casualties, at least not according to NATO statistics. In 2008, between January and September, 169 Afghans were inadvertently killed or wounded in NATO airstrikes. Over the same period in 2010, the number of Afghans killed or wounded was 88, the statistics show.
Insurgents cause the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths here, but errant strikes by NATO jets and helicopters have been a source of great tension with the Karzai government.
The statistics on American airstrikes were first published in Wired magazine.
The more intensive air campaign comes as American and NATO forces have stepped up the fight in other areas as well. The operation to pacify Kandahar, the epicenter of the insurgency, is well under way.
Members of Special Operations units have been unleashed with particular ferocity. In a three-month period ending Oct. 7, the units killed 300 midlevel Taliban commanders and 800 foot soldiers, and captured 2,000 insurgents.
“You’ve got to put pressure on the networks to get them to start thinking about alternatives to fighting,” said a senior NATO officer in Kabul. “We are not at the tipping point yet.”
General Petraeus appears to be following a template that helped him pull the Iraq war back from the cataclysmic levels of violence that engulfed the country after the American invasion. Beginning in 2006, American commanders simultaneously opened negotiations with insurgent leaders while killing or capturing those not inclined to make a deal.
Afghanistan is a different country, and it is not clear that the tactics that brought success in Iraq will work here. In particular, the Afghan insurgency is nowhere near to being as cohesive as the insurgency in Iraq, where guerrilla leaders could order their men to stop fighting with a reasonable expectation that they would obey.
Some Afghan experts believe that NATO’s two-track strategy is flawed — that bleeding the Taliban may actually make the insurgents less inclined to negotiate. Matt Waldman, an independent analyst who has worked extensively in the region, said that it was unlikely that many Taliban leaders could order their men to stop fighting.
“It’s dangerous to assume that you can bring off a senior commander and all his men will follow,” Mr. Waldman said.
It was more likely, he said, that the midlevel commanders now being killed by NATO would be replaced by others ever more committed to fighting. After all, one of the principles of the Afghan campaign, enunciated by General Petraeus himself and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal before him, was that NATO would never be able to kill and capture its way to victory.
“The idea that killing insurgents will take us to negotiations seems pretty doubtful,” Mr. Waldman said. “They have an infinite capacity to regenerate.”
(Carlotta Gall contributed reporting from Kabul, Thom Shanker from Brussels and Eric Schmitt from Washington)