Pakistani Gen. Gul on Why the US Cannot Win in Afghanistan

This interview with Pakistani General (ret.) Hamid Gul, by Bonnie Faulkner, took place on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 on the radio show “Guns and Butter,” KPFA-FM. To read the full transcript and hear the clip, scroll down for more info.

In this important interview, Gen. Hamid Gul explains that the US war in Afghanistan was doomed from the start. As a military professional with a distinguished career, he identifies the key factors that determine success or failure in war, and shows that the US is failing in almost every area.

Gen. Gul outlines the precariousness of the lines of communication depended upon by US forces (logistics), due to their length from Karachi to Afghanistan and susceptibility to frequent attack by a hostile population in Pakistan. He then surveys the intelligence failure, recently exposed in the WikiLeaks Afghan war materials, due to the almost total lack of reliable human intelligence and the uselessness of signals intelligence in a country like Afghanistan. He is especially critical of the increasing mixture of military and intelligence personnel, with their different training and skills, in the intelligence-collection effort, and the desperate resort to private contractors for intelligence.

Gen. Gul criticizes the failure on the part of US war planners to assess the nature of the enemy in Afghanistan, a people who never give up. He concludes that the resolve and resilience of the Taliban was seriously underestimated by the Pentagon. Further, the US has supported and tried to utilize corrupt elements of Afghan society to pursue its war aims, but that these people are completely unreliable. His principal example is the US employment of a local warlord, Hazrat Ali, which resulted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora.

Gul shows that the objectives of the US military have changed. The first objective, the capture of Osama bin Laden, failed. So a new objective was declared, to defeat the Taliban. Gul argues that all military thinkers from Sun Tzu to MacArthur have insisted on the selection and maintenance of a single objective, and that to change the goalposts is to guarantee defeat.

He then shows that the US cannot use its superior firepower because it cannot locate targets to attack; that it has a great disadvantage in manpower, as fighters are flocking to the resistance forces because they “smell victory”; that the Taliban control the countryside, with the US forces squeezed into garrison towns from which “they dare not venture”; and that time is on the side of the resistance, as the US cannot stay there forever. He makes a strong case that the Taliban are fully supported by the population throughout the country, and therefore the US cannot defeat them without defeating the entire Afghan people.

He goes on to compare the US occupation to that of the Soviet Union, and shows the considerable advantages the Soviet Union had over the current NATO forces. Yet, the Soviet Union was trounced. Gul says that if instead of 40,000 additional troops, the US were to send 400,000, it would still lose the war.

He concludes with a description of the corruption of the Afghan puppet government and the US reconstruction efforts, and the astonishing resurgence of opium production in the country, surmising that the opium is flown out of the country on US transport planes to Europe and the United States with the full knowledge of the highest US government officials.

To read the full transcript, go to To listen to the audio of the show, go to

22 thoughts on “Pakistani Gen. Gul on Why the US Cannot Win in Afghanistan”

  1. Thank you for pointing out the true public radio instead of that scam NPR(which I am ashamed to say I once supported).

    1. Hey, I'm with you on that. I made the mistake of supporting NPR for about 25 years before I finally realized that everybody there is a supporter of Israel. The massacre in Jenin finally did it. People were getting these desperate calls on cell phones and computers describing horrible massacre while NPR reporter was giving official IDF statements from Jerusalem. I stopped my $60/year donation immediately and tripled it and gave it to Democracy Now instead where the truth has no religious or ethnic bias.

      1. The Massacre in Jenin ? What do you know of it LaFontaine ?? You got suckered LaFontaine , and if that's the dtermining factor to condemn NPR , then you're an uniformed victim of propaganda .And that , of the most obvious kind .

        1. Roger: R/T is one of the many Hasbara cockroaches scurrying across the internet defending what can't be defended. The Jenin massacres were massively documented. Notice that R/T offers no proof, because he has none.

          1. 59 people died in "The Jenin Massacre " 20 were Israeli IDF . The Palestinian Commander in Jenin , who btw survived the NON-MASSACRE , went on record and publicly stated that most of those killed palestinians, were not allowed to leave by his own forces . Get your head screwed on straight imbecile , so you won't not make a fool of yourself again .
            Go get your FACTS straight phoenix-toxic .

          2. And ..phoenix-toxic , since it is obvious that you are too dumb or just to lazy to do any research , before opening your big fat mouth , here's the UN Secretary General's report on the ALLEGED massacre at Jenin . If it's too long for your minute attention span , skip to the last section article #4 were it confirms the number of dead on eithere side .And I guess you were also not aware of the palestinians video-taped being carried out on stretchers , only to jump off when out of journalists camera view , and got back in line to make another ride for the cameras . They didn't realize they were being taped from above

          3. phoenix-tox , you're a sucker , for all that was written or reported regarding the Jenin battle , no one , and I mean no one can come up with a casualty number [ fatalities ] greatere than 58 . And atleast 20 IDF deaths .
            So where's your massacre moron ?

  2. Afghanistan has forever been known as "the graveyard of soldiers and of empires" – NO one has ever really 'won' a war in Afghanistan.
    Anyone who has read a History book could come up with the same conclusion – America will NOT win the war in Afghanistan – whatever 'winning' is suppose to be?

  3. " Never win in Afghanistan " ???? Gee ya think !
    We have no freinds in Pakistan , ….helloooo the Taliban was created by Pakistani Intelligence to harass Hindus and India in Kashmir, who Pakistanis love to hate . It is far more likely that the US is hated by Pakistan for it's relatiionship with India , than for any other reason.

    And what ? We need a Pakistani general to enlighten us on this ???

  4. …..and both India and Pakistan have nukes , which they in perrenial fashion , threaten each other with .. I say , get out , stand back and let'em all have at it . If any attack originates from there , blow up their capitol …from a distance .

    Winning hearts and minds ? nation building ? Democracy ? ….it's all utter B.S. ! And by no means worth our blood and treasure ,

  5. R/T,
    Do I read you right regarding our being in Pakistan and Afghanistan. That you say “get out”. I agree wholeheartedly.

  6. I came up with this same conclusion in 2001. I mean when Bush was getting ready to invade the "graveyard of empires". How could they have been unaware of the Afghan's history when they US had just abandoned them in 1989 after the Soviet Union was defeated? Political irrationality has killed and will always kill empires.

  7. Winning a war in Afghanistan?
    Whats that mean? Alkaida or Taliban is an idea say like Communism,did anyone win over communism ?No it just end by itself by people and Soviet Union of communism end it by itself. But Alkaida and Taliban based on Islam maybe different interpretation of Islam so can you rid of Islam from Afghanistan and certainly not so you can not win Taliban and Alkaida. Bad news is for the coalition that Islam will be there forever. So winning is not an option,maybe negotiation is the winning formula.And all the face saving and rest of it would be negotiated.
    Provocation of one man (OSAMA) bring down American Emperialism should not be this simple.

  8. "surmising that the opium is flown out of the country on US transport planes to Europe and the United States with the full knowledge of the highest US government officials." MMMMMMMMMMM!!!

    IT WAS DONE IN VIETNAM..!!!! We know how Vietnam worked out….. The CIA ran the stuff.. They had an airline*** "Air America" The CIA also had the "Phoenix Program" which was going around the country assassinating random people who MAY have "something to do" with the insurgency.

    History records the moral depravity U.S. employed in attempting to subdue the Vietnamese people.
    The Americans became morally despised worldwide.. We are seeing a reprise performance of this moral collapse once again, seemingly from start to finish. From the questionable causis Beli to a policy bereft of any moral or legal consciousness. Thoughtless murder of everyone who is unhappy with being taken over by foreign invaders appears to be their goal. A policy of every conceivable crime that war perpetrators can commit. We are seeing some gruesome manifestations from these policies.. From rape murder of children [by U.S. soldiers] where the perpetrators kill the entire family attempting to cover up their crimes to this new revelation of troops making jewelry out of the body parts of INNOCENT CIVILIANS they murdered in staged provocations, we see the insanity of war as a manifestation of a consumer culture that has decided to kill and sreal to satisfy their product lust..

  9. "Your comment must be approved by the site admins before it will appear publicly."

    OOOOOO, I suppose this means there is a new word on your "pre-moderation" list, because I did not use any of the ones that in the past triggered the moderation dock review.. Is the new word "crimes"??

  10. Mr. Gul is an incredibly dubious character and altogether more of a sympathizer of Wahabbist thinking than of Western values… why should we listen to a word he sais?

  11. What Gul fails to mention is the part the US played in "the Afghanis " defeating the Soviets .Arms , stinger missles , financial support of the mujahadeen , you know , stuff like that .

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