The Jerusalem Post:
America’s debacle in Afghanistan is a complicated process, and the breakdown has many antecedents
The harrowing scenes at Kabul airport had been predicted days earlier. Cynics knew that a “Saigon” moment was coming.US President Joe Biden had promised in July that Kabul would not fall and that the Afghan army, supposedly some 300,000 strong, could fight.
In fact, the army was largely a fiction, present on paper only, and the Taliban had been quietly told by negotiators in Doha, and their friends in China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, that all they had to do was wait.America’s debacle in Afghanistan is a complicated process, and the breakdown has many antecedents.
In the long term it was fatigue with “endless wars.” This is the term that was used by previous US administrations, officials and experts. Former US President Donald Trump told West Point graduates in 2020 that “we are ending the era of endless wars.” It is not the job of American forces “to solve ancient conflicts in faraway lands,” he told them.
This was a far cry from the notion of America’s positive role in a global, international rules-based order that George H.W. Bush believed in after the Gulf War. It was far from the ideas of the Clinton administration which sought humanitarian intervention to help people from Kosovo to Somalia.But the US largely agreed, on the Left and Right, that the US needed to leave.Part of the notions about leaving are often built on ignorance, an ignorance borne of imperial power that the US had after the end of the Cold War.
US Congress member Rashida Tlaib tweeted, as Kabul airport was overrun by desperate Afghans seeking a way out: “That’s what this is: the horrible consequences of endless war and failed US policy going back to the 1980s when we backed the Taliban against the Soviets. Innocent people suffer the horrors of war while political leaders and arms-dealing corporations sit back and make billions.”
In fact, the US had not backed the Taliban, which was created in the 1990s. The US had backed other extremists, called Mujahedin. Tlaib didn’t need to read a history book to understand that. She could have just watched Charlie Wilson’s War or even Rambo III. But these days the US doesn’t demand that its legislators or officials know much about the world. In fact, ignorance is prized on the Left and the Right. That ignorance and incompetence, alongside lack of any responsibility, are what helped lead to the debacle in Afghanistan.