A war that failed to preserve Western values and liberal democracy – The wrong calculations and misjudgments of the Americans led to the rapid collapse of Afghanistan and the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport. The United States kept its forces in Afghanistan much larger than the British did in the nineteenth century and twice as occupied in Afghanistan as the former Soviet Union, but with similar results the two countries emerged more depressing, leaving only destruction and suffering for the Afghan people and astronomical confusion and expense. He left a legacy for America.
Of course, every state takes its national interests first in military and civilian action, and the United States was no exception. The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism and sought to oust it shortly after being forced into nationalism by a government with no social capital. But the United States, caught up in years of war in its own quagmire, was caught up in a multi-year war with an anti-occupation insurgent group that was, of course, a pre-invasion terrorist group; and at the end of the war, with an unexpected retreat, it astonished first the United States and then the world.
Certainly, the goals of the United States in 2001 went beyond fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Given the prevailing atmosphere since the end of the Cold War after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it can be considered a regional step to infiltrate Central Asia, contain China, Russia and Iran by relying on the fight against extremist Islamism, of which Tehran Ayatollahs were great leaders.
The war against revolutionary and extremist Islamism was seen internationally as an attempt to establish a unipolar system and a new world order based on the teachings of liberal democracy and to promote Western values in order to maintain and dominate the capitalist system and consolidate the declining hegemony of the United States in the world.
Apparently, Washington failed to achieve its goals after 20 years of war in various countries in the Middle East and Libya, but the agreement with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan, like the invasion of this country, has been pursued for benefits. Certainly, Biden decided to leave Afghanistan according to the timetable agreed with the Taliban, taking into account the warnings and intelligence reports about the consequences of the withdrawal, which emphasized the definite occurrence of civil war. The main question is whether the decision to drag Afghanistan into a civil war is based on the interests of the United States, which have been erased by the commotion and incidents around Kabul airport.
The United States has spent more than $ 83 billion since 2001, training and equipping Afghan security forces, and has estimated the strength of Afghan government forces for more than a few months. Even before Biden took office, the Pentagon had issued many warnings about the possibility of Taliban control of the Afghan army; intelligence estimates were that the Taliban would take control in 18 months, but Kabul fell in less than two weeks. The commanders knew that Afghan forces were facing many problems, such as deep corruption, the central government’s lack of political legitimacy due to low social capital, and fighting the Taliban on various fronts.
Senior Defense Department officials told Biden that the Taliban had grown stronger than ever under Trump during the past two decades, citing intelligence estimates that predicted al-Qaeda could gain a new foothold in Afghanistan in the next two or three years. Lloyd J. Austin, Secretary of Defense, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advised Biden that 3,000 to 4,500 troops should remain in Afghanistan to counter terrorist groups and reconsider the one-month withdrawal period. Get the Americans out of Cobb only by improving security and timing, and not looking at the Taliban adhering to the agreement. Otherwise, a civil war is likely after the withdrawal of the US and NATO forces.
But Biden assured his national security and foreign policy team that he was convinced that Afghanistan would be drawn into another civil war, no matter what the United States did. A war that Washington cannot prevent, but he does not think that he can be involved in it again. Even in late March, Austin and General Milley made their last attempt to change the president, anticipating dire consequences that the Afghan army would fail in the Taliban’s offensive advance. They cited the situation of the Iraqi army in 2014 after the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq as an example of how it came under ISIS control and forced Obama to send American troops back to Iraq. But Biden again said confidently that he had “seen these films before.”
According to Security Policy estimates, the 300,000 Afghan Army security forces, equipped with helicopters and modern weapons against just 75,000 Taliban, had great advantages in most battle situations that could have stopped the Taliban for at least a few months. Overall, the intelligence assessments provided to Biden assured him that a bloody civil war would break out in Afghanistan, but that complete domination and the fall of Kabul would be delayed. In late June, intelligence agencies estimated that even if the Taliban continued to advance, it would take at least a year and a half for Kabul to be threatened because Afghan forces would have more troops and air power.
Awareness of the outbreak of civil war indicates that US policymakers at the time of the withdrawal saw US interests in the civil war in Afghanistan for at least a year to 18 months and the resulting instability in the region, in addition to reducing their military spending with instability on China’s borders. And Iran should involve them in security issues and create a buffer zone between Iran and China on the initiative of a single Chinese road belt. Russia and China are more worried than the United States about the rise of terrorist activities that could spread to Central Asia and China’s Xinjiang province. Iran was also concerned about Sunni radical elements and their actions against its interests and the insecurity of its eastern borders and the repression of Shiites in Afghanistan.
Recent developments in Afghanistan will have profound geostrategic implications, as China, Russia and Iran could benefit from the new political order in Kabul, which would be detrimental to the United States’ strategy in controlling China and Iran. The Chinese announced their readiness to accept the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, and Iran’s first flight to Kabul took place. Beijing will also likely use its ties with the new government to achieve economic goals such as exploiting Afghanistan’s mineral resources and establishing land connections with Iran and beyond. China-Pakistan cooperation in Afghanistan is another positive for Beijing.
Beijing was building a road through the Wakhan Corridor before the fall of Kabul; The narrow strip connecting China’s Xinjiang province to Afghanistan could complement the existing road network across Pakistan and Central Asia as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
With this narrow 76-kilometer border, China sees Afghanistan as a strategically important neighbor on at least three fronts. Minerals and trace materials, trade routes and the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the Uyghur minority group. Meanwhile, China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country could provide an additional source of geopolitical leverage for Beijing. What happens in the coming months can be a mutually beneficial relationship. The Taliban are set to provide long-term development and mineral rights contracts to China, as well as allow Beijing to expand its belt and road initiative in the country. In contrast, China recognizes the group and invests in Afghanistan’s infrastructure. However, the group’s participation largely depends on the Taliban’s performance in maintaining stability and security in the region.
The main miscalculation of the United States was that it did not think that the rapid domination of the Taliban and the Taliban’s attempt to establish order and establish friendly relations with the countries of the region would happen so quickly. This miscalculation was due to an overly optimistic estimate of the strength of the Afghan army, ignoring the realities of Afghan society, the poor performance of Ashraf Ghani’s government, the Taliban strategy and the role of countries in the region. According to critics of the decision, the president underestimated the importance of a mediocre presence, and the implementation of an unplanned retreat exacerbated the problems. The feeling of abandonment by the United States and the command of incompetent leaders meant that Afghan forces on the ground “looked at what was in front of them and behind them and decided to move in a safer direction”.
by Yahya Sorbello