Clemenceau once said, “America is the only nation in history which, miraculously, has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.”
Georges Clemenceau was one of the key signatories of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) that marked the end of World War-I and provided impetus towards the genesis of World War II. Arguably, WW-I marked the end of Britain’s international dominance and stamped the beginning of an American global paramountcy.
Exit from Kabul: Fall of Bastille or US strategic retreat?
The international security experts are likening the ‘Fall of Kabul’ with the Fall of Bastille (1789), calling it the end of the American century—similar to the end of the ‘Grande Siecle’ of the French Bourbon ancient regime (1272-1789).
The academic sorority is comparing the US-led NATO troops’, seemingly impulsive, withdrawal from Afghanistan with the shambolic US military exit from South Vietnam. To them—the fall of Kabul is the deja vu of the fall of the Saigon.
However, being a student of history, I feel different from most of the contemporary authors writing and a lot of media practitioners confabulating on post-August 31 Afghanistan. I espouse the idea of—‘every revolution evaporates, leaving behind the precipitates of yet another totalitarianism’. Having said that—I express my academic audacity by calling the US exit from Kabul as the “US strategic retreat”.
I am sure during the most recent meeting with Mullah Baradar—William Burns may have said, “mate, we are returning for the moment; but here’s my business card, I’m just a phone call away, give me a shout should you need me again; I hope you guys are staying comfortably in Doha, and one more thing, we’ll make sure your youngsters will get summa-cum-laude at our universities.”
" Secret" talks between CIA Chief William Burns and Mullah Bradar fail as @Zabehulah_M33 announces that Taliban will not tolerate any more delay in withdrawal of US troops at end of this month. @EUinAfghanistan was hoping to convince US to delay so evacuation can be completed.
— Mariana Baabar (@MarianaBaabar) August 24, 2021
WWII: Beginning of The American century
The Americans attained their militaristic primacy at the end of WW-I, but what Woodrow Wilson missed to achieve at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, FDR seized in 1945. The post-Yalta US emerged as the ‘universal conqueror’ and the post-Potsdam US as ‘Pax Americana’. After FDR, Eisenhower made sure that the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions—the World Bank and the IMF—remained the US tenants, eternally.
The extensive launch of the Marshal Plan and the formation of NATO decisively added to their toolkit of intercontinental governance. They, simultaneously, gained control of international media, academia, world trade, and global banking. By the end of 2020, the Americans had military strongholds in every region of the planet.
All of the above has been achieved during the last hundred years of American century.
Changing global landscape: Let Europeans be ruled by Europeans!
Since the Arab Spring, the Middle Eastern and South Asian security scenario is changing kaleidoscopically, where Americans are facing myriad challenges. They encounter sanguinary resistance from local militias and armed groups in these subregions.
At the recent NATO Summit (14 June 2021) in Brussels, the key European stakeholders—Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Benelux, and Scandinavia—suggested the South Asian security scenario help them revamp the seventy-year old Atlantic Treaty. The NATO reforms are long overdue since 1982 when French President Mitterrand said to his US counterpart, Ronald Reagan—“Let Europe be ruled by the Europeans……we do not want a Metternich in the last quarter of the 20th century”.
Similar voices are being heard from Baghdad where successive Iraqi governments and oppositions have asked the US CENTCOM to leave their country.
With strong dollar Americans will continue to rule the world
The US under Joe Biden seems to be stepping back militarily but not politically. The Americans certainly look exhausted, overstretched, and tired. They needed a break to reflect upon their strategic follies and plan for an assured future in a mercurial world. They will remain robustly relevant at least for another decade or two. It is extremely hard to defeat an enemy who has made outposts in your head.
How America spent 20 years in Afghanistan, only to have the Taliban resume control again as its troops withdrew, will be a topic for historians to ponder for decades.
Here's how four US presidents have approached what became America's longest war. https://t.co/130UjhguA9
— CNN International (@cnni) August 24, 2021
As long as their dollar is strong – they have control over the Bretton Wood institutions, UN HQ remains in NY, they have the full support of the Saudis/GCC, and now the coercive tool of FATF—the Americans will rule the world. Their other formidable weapons are the heavy investments, in the US, by powerful elites of their ostensibly rival states. These powerful elites ensure to formulate and implement pro-US policies in their respective homelands to safeguard the vested interests of their children/families, businesses/properties, and trillions of dollars in the US banks.
Having said that, the American ‘Pale Riders’—Jake Sullivan, Will Burns, Tony Blinken, Lloyd Austin, and their external partners in South Asia and ME have adequate potential and means to create pathogenic divisions among Taliban simpletons.
They are capable of inducing the virulent outfits of Al-Qaida, Daesh, TTP, and Mossad into the fledgling Taliban leadership—they may have done it, already. Every US skeptic/adversary has a price tag—and Americans know the art of bidding at auctions of ‘partners-to-be’.
Dr. Ejaz Hussain is a London-based geo-strategic analyst on South-Asian and Middle-Eastern security and advises government institutions, corporations and think tanks as part of his consulting. He is an alumnus of Oxford, Durham, LSE, and King’s College, London. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.