World condemns Biden’s Afghan botch-up by hasty pullout AFGHANS FLUNG TO TALIBAN MERCY MARKS TRILLION DOLLAR LEGACY OF US OCCUPATION No matter the excuses now pathetically trotted out, nothing can justify the sordid unbecoming manner in which the Americans pulled out from Afghanistan and abandoned its people to the mercy of the wolves. True. The [...]


The great American betrayal in the Graveyard of Empires


  • World condemns Biden’s Afghan botch-up by hasty pullout

No matter the excuses now pathetically trotted out, nothing can justify the sordid unbecoming manner in which the Americans pulled out from Afghanistan and abandoned its people to the mercy of the wolves.

True. The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan had been on the cards for some time. Obama had suggested it. Trump had laid the plans for it, and Biden acted upon it, without giving a toss for the foreseen fallout.

In a bid to defend the indefensible pullout, US President Biden declared on Monday: ‘We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001, and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation building.  It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralised democracy.’

If that was the flimsy, narrow, self-serving reason to invade Afghanistan, what were the Americans doing there after al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was killed in neighbouring Pakistan by US Special Forces? Why did they dig in and remain for the next 17 years after its Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had grandly announced in 2003 that “major combat” was over?

If the sole purpose of their prolonged stay was to prevent Afghanistan from being used by international terrorists as a base from which to launch attacks against America by crushing their host the Taliban out of existence, evidence they had failed in their mission is found in Taliban’s cakewalk to Kabul.

But if the American motive had been self-centred and bad, Uncle Sam’s self-admitted 20-year failure in far flung Afghanistan, had, nevertheless, brought in its wake the sweet air of liberal thought to blow gaily in the rugged land, and had succeeded in dismantling some of the worst bastions of discrimination that were manacled to an extremist Taliban ideology.  Under Taliban rule during the period 1996-2001, women were banned from working and girls were prevented from going to school. Any woman who dared to venture out without her face covered in burka or without a male guardian faced severe punishment. Those who violated the group’s morality code faced a public flogging.

During the US occupation, the Americans had built up basic democratic institutions, encouraged the people to embrace it openly against the manifest tenets of the Taliban creed. It had released the Afghan woman from the cage of the burka, and, against Taliban dictates, brought her out from captivity and opened the window of knowledge to her.  It had kindled in her the passion to fight for human rights, to seek justice and see freedom as the inherent legitimate right of all humanity. The long down trodden Afghan woman had been brought out from the closet, where her thoughts, her emotions, her intelligence and her aspirations had all been kept shrouded by her burka and denied light; and her true beauty hidden from sight. The American 20-year occupation had made her come of age.

Schools, once taboo, under Taliban’s bigoted rule for girls, had been opened and just as the flowers were blossoming under a temperate sun the Americans had washed its hands over the blooming nursery and allowed the Taliban to amble in and crush their spreading petals.

Thousands who had joined the new American installed administration – set up 20 years ago to facilitate its uninvited stay in the hostile terrain – had done so against Taliban diktat and were now fearing the terrible reprisals that would inevitably follow with the return of the sword to the Taliban. Reduced to quivering masses of jelly, their fears so manifest that some were willing to climb on the wings of a departing American aircraft in a manic last ditch attempt to flee the country, only to fall to their deaths from 3000 feet high – a death more preferable, perhaps, than the death they feared they would receive at the hands of the Taliban.

Taliban first emerged to the limelight from the chaos the Soviet Forces left behind when they withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after a disastrous 10-year occupation fighting the US backed Islamic warriors known as the mujahedeens. The Soviets, who had invaded in 1979 to prop up the Communist Government, had packed up and left after finding it impossible to impose their will on the land, even as big powers throughout the ages had found to their grief. Not for nothing had history dubbed Afghanistan as the Graveyard of Empires.

With the Soviet departure, various factions began in fighting for control and the country fell into warlordism and civil war. From the turmoil, there rose the Taliban. Hailing from the ethnic-Pashtun heartland in the south, they promised to place fundamental Islamic values above all else and battle the corrupt infighting warlords. This message attracted a sizable following and, after months of intense fighting, succeeded in controlling most parts of Afghanistan.

After five years in the making, the Taliban finally took power in 1996 and declared an Islamic Emirates. Their ideology was an extreme interpretation of the Quran: the method of enforcing it was by brutal public punishments and on the set fare were floggings, amputations and beheadings.

They also showed zero tolerance to other religions and rival religious practices. In early 2001 they gained the world’s opprobrium by destroying the ancient towering statues known as the Great Buddhas of Bamiyan. To the Taliban, they were blasphemous and their destruction was holy. Taliban’s Minister of Information and Culture boasted of this senseless destruction of statutes held in global awe, saying: “it is easier to destroy than to build.”

But the tide was soon to turn. Later that same year, shortly after the 9/11 bombing, the Americans landed in Afghanistan with the goal, as Biden stated on Monday, ‘to make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again’.  And the Taliban soon became history.

But history has that nagging habit of repeating itself and, today, from its ashes the Taliban has risen and has been resurrected to power. The same group who had offered a haven to terrorists and who could do the same again, had returned to take control of Kabul with the same ease of taking a walk in the park, even before the last American GI had left its soil.

But only last month had Biden expressed his swaggering confidence in the Afghan military. At a media conference on July 8, he was asked whether Afghans fall to Taliban was inevitable with the US pull out. His answer was: “No, it is not. Because the Afghan troops have 300,000 well equipped – as well equipped as any army in the world – and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban, It is not inevitable. I don’t trust the Taliban but I trust the capacity of Afghan military who is better trained, better equipped and more competent in terms of conducting war.” On Friday, the New York Times revealed that ‘intelligence had warned of Afghanistan military collapse despite Biden’s assistance’.

Had this error of judgment, this failure to read the ground situation as provided by American military intelligence, ignited Afghan’s humanitarian crisis? Had Biden’s folly led to the Afghans falling from the Taliban frying pan into the fire lit by Americans and left burning when they pulled out this week?

Twenty long years and a reported trillion dollars later, with over 3000 Americans sent coffined home, America leaves another of her foreign misadventures with its tail sheepishly between its legs, though sporting a brash look to the world.

If the American withdrawal had been phased out to ensure there would not be a return to the dark ages, it would have been to America’s everlasting credit. Today, the botched up legacy of human misery she leaves behind, is to her lasting shame.


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