With the pull-out from Afghanistan, the superpower image of the US has taken a severe hit and that too at a time when Washington may have to deal with China and Russia collectively
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
William Blum, US historian and critic who had worked in US State Department said few years back, “Since 1945, US has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in 30 countries; bombed the civilian population of 30 countries; interfered in elections in 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders. In many cases Britain has been a collaborator”.
As is apparent from the above, the US as a superpower could bomb or invade any country or region with impunity with the US President taking decisions without bothering about the United Nations. The US Congress could be given any reason, for example alleging that Iraq was working on a nuclear programme and had to be invaded in order to stop it from acquiring nuclear weapons. It did not matter if this was proved false after the invasion.
Given the strength of the US military, it was assumed it could be used as the hammer to sort out any problem anywhere
In fact, the policy of ‘regime change’ was worked out well in advance. General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO had said on March 02, 2007, “While bombing of Afghanistan had commenced, I asked a General of Joint Staff, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off with Iran.”
The US did invade Iraq though the plan to take out seven countries in five years did not work out especially with the Russian support to Syria. Given the strength of the US military, it was assumed it could be used as the hammer to sort out any problem anywhere, which in turn boosted the superpower image of America. But then the US invaded Afghanistan where the superpower image of the US has finally taken a severe hit and that too at a time when Washington may have to deal with China and Russia collectively.
Unable to subdue the Afghan Taliban and inability in interdicting their funding and arms supplies, in February 2020 the US signed a peace deal with Taliban
Unable to subdue the Afghan Taliban and inability in interdicting their funding and arms supplies, in February 2020 the US signed a peace deal with Taliban who it had been fighting since 2001. This was surrender for safety of US troops pulling out of Afghanistan and consigning Afghanistan to the Taliban, given that the US knew capabilities and intentions of the Taliban with the CIA having established them years back to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.
Now America says that the US has completed its task in Afghanistan; Taliban has no links with Al Qaeda and promises they will not let Afghanistan’s territory be used against the US and its interests. But nothing can be farther from the truth. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) confirms Taliban links with Al Qaeda are as strong as ever. Moreover, the Pakistan army and its proxies continue to support and fight alongside the Afghan Taliban.
The Taliban blitzkrieg is in full swing with the crossing points from Afghanistan into Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics under their control. While US President Joe Biden had ordered complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by August 31, but the Taliban advance forced the US to send 3,000 troops to help evacuate its embassy staff, American nationals and associates. This is in addition to the US mobilising 3,000 troops as reserves. Similarly, the British are sending 600 troops, Canada their Special Forces, as also some European nations to evacuate their nationals.
By August 14, the Afghan Taliban have captured the second and third largest cities of Afghanistan, Kandahar and Herat respectively, as also the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Ghazni, Sar-i-Pul and Taliqan and surrounded Kabul from all directions. According to the Daily Mail, Americans have destroyed all classified documents and material in the US Embassy in Kabul before fleeing.
The Taliban advance forced the US to send 3,000 troops to help evacuate its embassy staff, American nationals and associates
On August 15, 2021, the Taliban launched an attack on Kabul from all sides. Shots were reportedly heard near the presidential palace in Kabul. The Taliban then entered the presidential palace. President Ghani resigned and the Afghan government surrendered. Ghani had addressed the nation on August 14 and said no more Afghan blood should be shed. Interim government is being formed led by the Taliban. Former Afghan Interior Minister and former Ambassador to Germany, Ali Ahmad Jalali, who had fought against the Soviets is rumoured to head Afghanistan's transitional government but this may be false as the new government without doubt will be of Taliban with Mullah Baradar as the President of Afghanistan. So much for US intelligence assessment that Kabul could fall in 90 days! The Taliban has begun whitewashing posters in Kabul which had images of women.
The American rout from Vietnam perhaps is only known in passing to the present generation but that was in the previous century. The American rout from Afghanistan is a self-inflicted injury which has severely damaged the superpower image of the US. For their two decades stay in Afghanistan, the US only has to its credit 3,500 coalition forces personnel killed and over 20,300 servicemen wounded in action in addition to hundreds of US civilian casualties; thousands of Afghan civilians killed and millions displaced, and; return to Taliban rule as was before the US invasion.
For their two decades stay in Afghanistan, the US only has to its credit 3,500 coalition forces personnel killed and over 20,300 servicemen wounded in action in addition to hundreds of US civilian casualties
Afghanistan which the US invaded to stabilise and root out terrorism has been abandoned to a worse fate after 20 years – a terrible tragedy of human rights and misery for the women folk. As to the US claim that Taliban will not let Afghan territory to be used against US interests, a victorious Taliban Commander has told CNN, “It’s our belief that one day mujahedeen will have victory, and Islamic Law will come not to just Afghanistan, but all over the world. We are not in a hurry. We believe it will come one day. Jihad will not end until the last day.”
The US should not be surprised if the Taliban soon plant their flag on the American Embassy in Kabul. Worse they could convert the premises into public toilets. After all China did so in Xinjiang after demolishing the mosques.
Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.