If the truth is told, most of the geopolitical issues can find their way to their detestable colonial roots. Colonial rule, which was prevalent in the 17th century really inflicted an immense blow on the economic and political conditions of the nations, so much so that such geopolitical conflicts still plague relations of various nations. Europe and America, in this context, can serve as the poster boys for the issue.
America’s longest war, as we all witnessed, neared its end a few weeks ago. America emphatically witnessed a loss to the enemy; it had effectively defeated Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago in 2001. What has gripped the nation is the shock and bewilderment that the military and the government, that America so pompously supported collapsed so quickly that it led to eleventh-hour chaotic evacuation.
America’s unsuccessful history in Afghanistan
September 11 will effectively mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks in America. But this year the anniversary will be marked with the detestable and conservative Taliban militant group back in power.
Given the situation, one can with emphasis maintain that the American plan of action was plagued with frustration, odious short-term thinking, a lack of consistency, and multiple missteps that led to its debacle in Afghanistan. If the uneventful 20 years of war are to be scrutinized, it can be robustly highlighted that the aforementioned reasons and strategical errors led to the failures that crippled U.S. strategic efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. What is more interesting is that given the extent of America’s failure, Washington still spent more than $1 trillion and more than. With financial crippling, unnecessary devastation including the lives of 2,400 American service members and tens of thousands of Afghans.
Now, all it seems is efforts and lives gone to waste.
This gives rise to a pertinent question that why America is to be blamed? This is emphatically due to the fact that two Republican and two Democratic robust and democratic administrations struggled immensely to fight corruption and human rights abuses and failed heroically.
This comes at the back of capturing Afghanistan with various reports of human rights abuses by its army. While America fought the Taliban, it emphatically inflicted incurable wounds on the civilians of Afghanistan. To make the matters worse, the noble citizens were left in a lurch by the oh-so-mighty Americans. It is to be noted that all the democratic, military and strategic failures come even while America acquiesces to much of them by trying to nurture democracy and rule of law.
The debacle initiated by the US
It is worthy of mentioning here that America promoted a powerful central government in a country whose tribes, for ages, enjoyed local autonomy. Further, America’s drug eradication programs antagonized locals in the Taliban’s rural strongholds. This was due to the fact that most of the tribals and locals relied on opium poppy cultivation to survive.
In addition to policy blunders, America’s strategy was also plagued with intelligence shortcomings and failures. This was witnessed greatly when last week United States President Joe Biden’s administration optimistically had anticipated that it would take probably a few months for the Taliban to enter Kabul. But Taliban’s 10-day swift seizure of power in the region shocked America to its core. Given its crippling drug usage mitigation campaign, the world now witnesses some hypocritical remarks like “we weren’t there for nation-building” by the headstrong president.
Though credit is due where it belongs as America cannot be denied credit for some of its undeniable successes. The United States and its allies had effectively helped improve countless lives in one of the world’s poorest countries. This led to the advancing of rights of women and girls and supporting and endorsing independent media. America’s efforts also included building hospitals, schools, and roads. But again, what use is of such development, if it has to be perished by the bombs that were dropped by America itself, in the pursuit of its war on terror.
It is to be noted that President George W. Bush‘s unsuccessful crusade was a declaration of war on terror. For starters, it had toppled the Taliban government in Kabul who had hosted al Qaeda militants. These Al Qaeda militants were responsible for the 2001 attack on America. It is undeniable that the strategy worked effectively for a while as the Taliban had been successfully routed and al Qaeda had been sent fleeing.
Iraq- the distraction
But after such initial successes were similar efforts made to maintain the status quo? Sadly, No. Instead of robustly and strategically working to secure Afghanistan against a possible resurgence of the Taliban, the Bush administration, quite detestably, diverted resources to invading Iraq. This was done on the erroneous claims claiming that Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian government had effectively and emphatically illicit weapons of mass destruction programs.
Thus, it can be rightfully stated that the Bush administration’s obsession with Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian government left America’s Afghanistan strategy adrift. President Barack Obama’s ascension, in 2009, led to a continuation of the mixed messaging. He was emphatically looking towards positively reducing U.S. forces in Afghanistan and putting America’s interest first, after the age of calamity his previous administration had inflicted on Afghanistan.
Moreover, his strategy enforced pressure on the Taliban into peace talks led to another catastrophic number of troops in Afghanistan. In his speech in 2009, at West Point, he stated that he would effectively send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. But it was added that after a time period of 18 months, America’s troops will begin to retreat.
The Afghan corruption
However, it would be unfair to pin down the blame on just America. Afghanistan’s corrupt government, plagued with human rights abuses and blatant corruption, too had its role to play. This was due to the fact that the U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine needed a “local partner.”
Thus, its counterinsurgency doctrine led the United States and its allies to legitimize successive Afghan governments. It can be rightly stated that this effectively led to the acceptance of pervasive corruption even though they promoted anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan.
Such inefficiency even plagued the military as the United States was never fully able to overcome the problem of “ghost soldiers,”. This was coupled with non-existent troops that were listed on rosters by crooked commanders. So while it was being reported that the Afghan security forces have 300,000 troops on paper, the actual number was emphatically much lower and America, the strategist, should have known better.
Given, the arduous, unsuccessful American mission, people at home too grew impatient. With uprisings and polls that confirmed that a majority of Americans wanted the war to end, the fate of Afghanistan was sealed. What now remains unclear and interesting to witness is that how will Americans view Biden’s infamous decision after TV images of U.S. military withdrawals evacuating the country, with Afghans distressfully swarming the airport, desperate to leave surface online.