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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

One after another failure, is US declining as a super power?

Rafiq Jan, a current affairs analyst, explains the current US debacle in Afghanistan where President Joe Biden’s policy failure has allowed the Taliban to take over more than two-thirds of the country. Furthermore, he also argues that for the United States, there is no way around to succeed in Afghanistan without Pakistan. To have a safe exit and still celebrate a delusive victory, the US has to engage Pakistan.

As U.S president Joe Biden heralds the country out of pandemic on the 4th of July, he showed cold shoulders to reporter’s question about Afghanistan. A major U-Turn of American policy sealed the fate of his 20 long years’ impoverished friend Afghanistan to be lost into oblivion. A country that had always been a battlefield for superpowers finally joined the graveyard club of American hubris.

The U.S has a painful history of lost wars overseas. It lost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of sons of soil lost lives in the line of duty, but the world’s most elite and powerful army failed to reap the glories of ancestors, like Abraham Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower.

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, followed by an expensive Gulf War, was both based on poor planning and wrong strategies of Pentagon and U.S think tanks. And ultimately the Afghanistan invasion proved to be the last nail in the American coffin as it was twenty long years of protracted war that killed millions of innocent civilians in the region, including thousands of own marines overseas.

Read more: Here’s a list of the US’ top failures in Afghanistan

Donald Trump, a businessman more than a politician, took a bold decision of ending war and withdrawing from Afghanistan. His invitation to PM Khan to Washington was nothing more than the very personal need to seek help. He knew no one else can emancipate America from the tentacles of destruction if a decision is not made immediately.

Pakistan holds the key to a lasting solution for the Afghan conflict. Series of high-level talks between Taliban and U.S in Doha Qatar could never have been possible without Pakistan’s key role as an interlocutor. Sadly, a change of guard in Washington changed the priorities of the new president about his country. He too got carried away by the seductions of command and authority that lured him into re-assessing his plans.

Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was the continuation of his predecessor’s policies but seeking new fronts and locking horns with China and Russia proved yet again the levity of the U.S government.

Read more: Biden nominee Blinken reveals his plans for China, Iran, and Russia

Afghanistan succumbs to Taliban power

The Afghan army is wiped out rapidly by the Taliban. In desperation the government of Ghani supporting ethnic militants to unite against the Taliban, thus inviting another anarchic situation in the country that will only lead to an already dangerous situation into a fireball. A futile attempt that is bound to backfire and push the country.

Taliban have so far taken control of more than two-thirds of the country. They are well poised to capture the capital Kabul, the fruit of their twenty years old struggle.

Since mid-April following the announcement of President Biden of an end to a “forever war”, the Taliban made strides throughout the country, but their most significant achievements are in northern Afghanistan, the stronghold of their civil-war era.

Reportedly Taliban have taken control of the Kandahar district on Sunday,4th July 2021. They have captured dozens of districts over the past few weeks and their victories continue unabated. Only last Monday, more than 1000 Afghan army troops fled into Tajikistan as the Taliban incursions continue. They are not supported with extra troops from Kabul due to the panic situation the Afghan army is gripped with these days.


Following the evacuation of the Bagram Airbase by the U.S Army, the Taliban have propelled their onslaught across the north, over the weekend. They seized most of the Badakhshan and Takhar provinces. The ease with which they are advancing across the country has perplexed and pushed the government into a defensive mode.

Read more: Taliban capture more districts, surround Kabul

Reports are rife that the Taliban are inching close to the takeover of the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand. Kandahar is a famous place where the Taliban was born back in ’80s and started their strict Islamic sharia laws in Afghanistan for the first time in the country’s history. There are reports that the government forces, under the fear of the Taliban, appear to be intentionally withdrawing, instead of putting up a fight.

Thousands of Afghan army, intelligence, and police troops are surrendering to the Taliban without any resistance. They are attributing their helplessness to a lack of air support since the withdrawal of foreign forces.

The U.S lacks the stomach to stand with embattled allies

The U.S is cornering itself to an understanding that a war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and unnecessary. A descent from stalemate to defeat will be more shameful than just a grim reality.

U.S appears to repeat its history of abandoning Afghans who helped the U.S army in intelligence. They are the first ones to be killed once the foreign forces withdraw.

Bagram Airbase served as the main hub for U.S military operations for twenty years. The U.S army surprisingly vacated it last Friday. According to the Afghan government and the AP, the last American remaining detachment left in the dark of the night without even informing the Afghan base commander.

Read more: US to transfer the control of Bagram base to Afghan army in 20 days

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his power-sharing partner Abdullah Abdullah met with President Biden in the white house. The meeting that had been cast as a show of continued support turned out as a declaration by Biden, saying that “Afghans would have to decide their future.”

Shamefully, the Biden government did not even bother to evacuate interpreters and other Afghans who had been risking their lives to help U.S troops. There were some 18000 applications from such Afghans for special U.S immigrant Visas, that were finally suspended for processing by the U.S embassy in Kabul.


Backtracking on own promises

The New York Times reports that no agreement was negotiated before and with either Pakistan or any other regional allies (in central Asia) to base U.S aircraft. Without this, the CIA will be left with fewer options to carry out counterterrorism strikes.

U.S narrative blames the Taliban for not fulfilling their side of the bargain. The Taliban categorically deny it by saying they promised not to attack the U.S and other foreign forces. But attacking Ashraf Ghani’s army and gaining control by using force, was not part of the agreement to which the whole world is a witness.

Read more: Taliban are not sticking to the promises made in the Afghan peace deal: Pentagon

Meeting with Ashraf Ghani in Washington was yet proof of another blunder that Americans loved to attempt in adding to their already mounting woes. They raid the nations, plunder the economy, kill millions of innocent citizens, create havoc in the region and finally left with disgrace. Thus, leaving that country on its own to survive.

CIA’s meager policy options

The Afghan army is buckling in almost everywhere. Taliban intoxicated with an imminent victory are advancing towards the major provincial capitals. Thus, we can see a rapid disintegration soon.

Biden called this withdrawal “a rational drawdown with our allies”. But his deliberate ignorance of follow-up questions on Afghanistan left everyone bewildered.

U.S military command, the intelligence planners, and Washington are both under the assumption that in case of an impending fall of the Afghanistan government, a regrouped Northern Alliance could be organized to counter the Taliban onslaught.

Read more: Will Taliban continue their reign of terror after US exit?

This is a gambit that indicates how tangentially the new government is concerned about Afghanistan’s predicament. It is betting on a much weaker side of Afghan’s civil war times, rather than continuing to support the democratically elected government in Kabul.

All the NATO allies are pulling out their troops from Kabul. Germany moved its last bastion on June the 30th. Australia has closed its embassy in Kabul which is considered to set off a chain reaction among all the western countries to leave the embattled country.

Pakistan’s undeniable vital role

One thing that the world must take heed is that for the United States there is no way around to succeed in Afghanistan without Pakistan. To have a safe exit and still celebrate a delusive victory, it has to engage Pakistan. There is always a price for favor and cooperation in strategic national issues and Biden will have no option other than invoking the consent of PM Khan for a face-saving outcome.

Someone said it rightly that from Pakistan’s viewpoint it still has a valid reason to press Biden to concede the reality that, “If you have the power to keep us at the FATF grey list, we have the power to keep America in Afghanistan for twenty more years.

Read more: FATF: A bully with no legal authority?

America ditched its front-line ally Pakistan time and again during its two decades of engagement in Afghanistan. It spent billions of dollars on its proxy fighters within Pakistan to incessantly keep the country volatile by suicide attacks. It caused mayhem by using its under-cover force, Blackwater, inside Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s important neighbor, Pakistan, had been hard hit by collateral damage that emanated from being a hired gun of America. Pakistan sacrificed more than 70000 citizens while crippling a similar number, in addition to losing more than $100 billion.

From Pakistan’s perspective, this had been an unscrupulous decision to work as a mercenary of a foreign power that had always remained skeptical of Pakistan’s honest intentions. America always sidelined a highly strategic partner that still holds the key to Afghanistan’s lasting solution.

Gen Austin Miller, the U.S military commander in Afghanistan, said last Tuesday, “Civil war is the only path that can be visualized now, and this should be a concern for the world.”

Read more: Will US exit lead to another civil war in Afghanistan?

Biden’s cold response to Afghanistan’s collapse will have far-reaching implications. The world is watching a fast-changing battlefield equation with great concern, and the blame will be justifiably attributed to a callous U.S attitude and the irresponsible behavior of Kabul officials in throwing the country into the wilderness of neglect and oblivion once again.

Joe Biden has long been against the U.S missions in Afghanistan. It may support his opinion that a war with the Taliban is unwinnable and unnecessary, but for his friends in Kabul, an abject surrender could be steep and grim.

The author is an Aeronautical Engineer and a current affairs analyst. He can be reached at: rafiqjan222@yahoo.co.uk.The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.