Russia spent ten years in Afghanistan trying to stabilize the government and find some way to use Afghani resources for the former Soviet government. Moscow learned that things in Afghanistan are much tougher than even the gulags of the Motherland. They went packing, licking their considerable wounds and mounds of cash left in the caves of Afghan terrorists.
Then came the United States.
Who can forget what the Bush 43 Administration did after 9/11? All of America was convinced the Twin Towers fell at the hands of al-Qaida on the orders of Osama Bin Laden. Dick Cheney convinced W. that Iraq somehow was responsible for the deaths of 3000 Americans, so we went after bin Laden there at the same time hunting down those WMDs stashed by Sadaam Hussein. There were NO WMDs in Iraq no Bin Laden. After finding Hussein and his execution by Iraqis, America got word Bin Laden was deep in the mountain caves of Afghanistan. So off we went.
Twenty years later we had accomplished just one of our objectives in heading to the desert mountainous terrain full of caves that were perfect to hide terrorist training camps: we found and executed Osama Bin Laden. Part 2 of the Afghanistan hunt for Osama was to level any al-Qaeda terrorist camps or training operations that we discovered underway by al-Qaeda with the approval of the Afghani government. We soon discovered what the Russians learned: Afghanistan is NO cakewalk and it’s no place to win an easy war. Twenty years later, Uncle Joe pulled the plug, and America was exposed as being a weak nation with ineffectual White House leadership.
Here We Are Today
Kabul has fallen. Twenty years after 9/11, when Osama Bin Laden orchestrated the deaths of almost 3,000 people in the United States, and George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan to enforce the law against unrepentant terrorism by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, America’s mission in the country is coming to a humiliating end. For now. Americans, British, Australians, and Indians are scrambling to get out. But the airport in Kabul is now impenetrable for the regular Afghans, including over 3 million peacefully religious Sufis, who fear massacre at the hands of extremist Taliban fighters in the street.
The Taliban is going door-to-door looking for foreigners. Thousands are “sheltering in place,” per the instructions of their home governments, rather than risk arriving at the airport before their time, and being engulfed by the surging Afghans who also wisely seek to escape the Taliban’s terrible brand of Sharia “justice.”
Afghans clinging to, and then falling, from an American military cargo plane as it lumbered in a steep climb from the tarmac symbolized America’s retreat, and will always be mocked in Beijing and Moscow. But like the shocking scenes of Americans jumping to their deaths from the Twin Towers, these lost lives are the fault of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, not America. They are the fault of authoritarian countries around the world, including China and Russia, as well as Pakistan, who have given financial, military, or diplomatic aid to the Taliban over the past 20 years. Without that aid, without state support from abroad, the Taliban could never have “won” this war against America, its allies, and the idea of democracy.
The former director-general of ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence services, remarked that “the ISI defeated America in Afghanistan, with America’s help.” It’s a true statement and one that America’s leadership must seriously contemplate.
What went wrong in Afghanistan was American strategy. We must get tougher and smarter. We must go to the roots of the problem, or we will die of a thousand cuts. When America dies, democracy dies. The effects will be global and irreversible.
The Taliban won through Maoist tactics, perhaps learned from Chinese intelligence or allies. Taliban tactics included surrounding the cities from the countryside, and buying off political, military, and police leadership so that when the signal came, most Taliban could walk into Kabul without a shot fired. In fact, as you read this, thousands of American citizens, Afghans who were sources for American intelligence agencies, and even U.S. workers in Afghanistan with defense contractors are locked outside a ring of Taliban fighters who have circled the airport to control who gets access to the airport to get out.
The speed and ease of the Taliban’s victory shocked and surprised the world. But it shouldn’t have. The indicators of a corrupted political leadership in Kabul, and on military bases around the country, drunk on profits from Taliban opium networks, financial scams, and “bags of money” from Iran, according to former President Hamid Karzai, were there for all to see.
America had been too lax with Afghanistan’s leadership, who were often in it for themselves, rather than for ideals like democracy, human rights, rule of law, and religious tolerance. We looked the other way while the Taliban ran opium fields and trafficking networks that benefited corrupt Afghan leaders. America wanted to buy victory on the cheap, and without rocking the boat. It turned out to be the most expensive way, in blood and treasure. We failed because we were too soft, on drug trafficking and the corruption of Afghan officials, on the Taliban’s military and intelligence enablers in Pakistan, and on Pakistan’s enablers in Beijing.
Instead of fighting all of the above, at 100 percent, we told our soldiers to walk on eggshells. We wanted to maintain trillions of dollars of U.S. investments in China, and our “allies” in Pakistan (which has in fact long been a Chinese ally). We paid Pakistan billions of dollars to allow the transport of materiel to our troops in Afghanistan when Pakistan should have pitched in itself. We paid millions more for their promises to secure their own illegal nuclear weapons so terrorists wouldn’t use them against us. Our aid to Pakistan peaked in 2010, the year before the drawdown started. That’s called highway robbery. It’s giving into terrorism.
America, with all of our idealism, now looks like the sucker. We rightly want to bring peace, stability, democracy, and human rights to the world, and we were willing to pay for it as we remembered the alternatives, like World War II. The United Nations was our answer to a world war never happening again. We tried through the U.N. to ensure that countries would never again take the territory of other countries, countries would respect the human rights of their populations, and never again commit genocide. Boy, was that a HUGE and expensive mistake.
Now with China’s rise, the founding values of the U.N. system, which were determined by American and British design, are being wiped out. China doesn’t like the origins of the U.N. and does not care about any of its principles. It just wants to use the organization to further its own goals of power and control on a global level. It’s interesting that the first international organization that the Taliban invited to stay is a U.N. agency.
We see China’s hypocritical support for the U.N. in Beijing’s two genocides in its own country, its immediate support for the Taliban, its apparent willingness to compensate the Taliban to allow it to grab resources like copper from its $3 billion mine at Mes Aynak, and in the process destroy the ruins of an ancient Buddhist city. Beijing’s hypocrisy is on full display in its willingness to support Pakistan with billions of dollars of investment even as Pakistani military and intelligence elements support the Taliban, which regularly planted bombs in the middle of market day, assassinated human rights activists, and killed Americans and allies with IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
The fall of Kabul, and with it the stumbling of democratic ideals that America and its allies attempted to build in Afghanistan, is a blow not only to America but to all freedom-loving people around the world. It indicates increased influence in Central Asia by China and the terrorist elements that the Chinese Communist Party covers, including in Pakistan.
What’s Next For The U.S. In Afghanistan?
Nothing is going to happen for a long time regarding U.S. involvement there. World leaders were shocked as were millions of Americans to watch the U.S. turn its back on Afghani people who swore their lives to a government that swore its unfailing commitment to protecting those Afghan citizens who went all-in to assist the U.S. military. Tuesday we learned the Taliban started knocking door-to-door in Kabul seeking those Afghanis who worked for the U.S. On their march to the Afghan capital, in 17 different provincial capitals, the Taliban did the same thing and executed every one of those “informants” aligned with the U.S.
Do you think ANY foreign leaders feel they can trust this U.S. Administration?
Here’s the REALLY tough spot the Biden blanket retreat from Afghanistan has put the U.S. in: no country, no people, and no government can afford to trust the United States and President Biden on ANY international matters after the Biden surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
One thing is in our favor: we cannot afford to wash our hands of Afghanistan. Remember: we just vacated a massive airbase that we built that is just 200 miles from the border of China! That airbase is the closest military operation we’ve ever had to China. It will certainly take time while people from every country watch how the U.S. moves forward under Biden. They will be hesitant to work with us. Why? They cannot trust us. Will they ever get over those feelings? Only time will tell. Don’t forget that the resources of our nation are the impetus for EVERY country to want to be “U.S.-aligned,” if not a direct ally.
If America and our allies come back, and we must, we are going to have to come back swinging harder and smarter. And “smarter” is the key to any future success there we may have. We simply cannot lose the logistics of the location of Afghanistan. And, don’t forget: the Afghan people deserve to be relieved from the oppressive Sharia law that is now being imposed on every Afghani.
Someone needs to fix all this! And it will not be Joe Biden.