An editorial rejecting US call for Dhaka to send troops to hell
IT WOULD, perhaps, be wrong to regard the request made on Thursday by the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to the Bangladesh foreign minister, Dr Dipu Moni, for deployment of combat troops in Afghanistan as merely an expression of the ever-deepening despair and desperation of the Barack Obama administration over a war, which it has inherited from the George W Bush era and could very well cause its downfall.
According to a report front-paged in New Age, quoting from a foreign ministry news release, Holbrooke sought for ‘any kind of help like deploying combat troops’, providing economic and development assistance and training for the law enforcement agencies to establish security and stability in Afghanistan.
Request for deployment of combat troops from a ‘Muslim-majority’ country to perpetuate occupation of another ‘Muslim-majority’ country is an old trick that the US has sought to play time and again. A similar request for Bangladeshi troops was made during the Bush years for deployment in Iraq.
Needless to say, the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, waged by the US-led forces of the West on the pretext of ‘smoking out’ Osama bin Laden and thus dismantling his al-Qaeda network, and its subsequent occupation, on the plea of spreading the light of democracy in the rocky terrains, have been illegal through and through.
While the invasion itself drew support from the governments in the West, and the sympathy from sections of their people, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the US, Washington currently finds itself largely isolated as it perpetuates the occupation of Afghanistan. As more and more countries withdraw their troops from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, the US is apparently hard put to come up with some sort of legitimacy for its occupation of Afghanistan.
Importantly still, the very basis of Bangladesh’s emergence as an independent state itself is opposition to colonialism and neo-colonialism, while Bangladeshis have a rich history of fighting imperialism. Any form of oppression or occupation is against the collective ethos of the Bangladeshis. Moreover, there is hardly any reason for the Bangladesh government to be fooled by the US narrative on the ultimate objective of its occupation of Afghanistan.
In the past nine years or more of the US-led occupation, Afghanistan has slid further into despondency, disorder and division. Democracy that the US promised the Afghan people has thus far translated into an extremely corrupt government, which, incidentally, seems to have no control beyond the highly fortified green zone in Kabul.
The puppet president seems to have the lone objective of perpetuating his and his cronies’ control over all the shady deals that are signed in the name of the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.
Opium production in Afghan, the decimation of which was claimed to be another objective of the US-led invasion and occupation, has meanwhile increased manifold. Last but not least, the Taliban that the US-led forces dethroned are on the way back and Washington is actively considering negotiations with what it calls the ‘good’ Taliban. Overall, nine years of US-led misadventure have given Afghanistan just the opposite of what Bush, and later Obama, promised.
Most importantly, an affirmative response to the US request could invite the wrath of national, regional and international Islamist radicals upon Bangladesh. The government needs only to look at India and Pakistan to realise what the consequence of siding with Washington could be. Hence, the government should only have one answer for Washington: a resounding ‘no’.