Opinion: The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan is weakening and humiliating America while damaging its image experts say
The Taliban's swift taking of power in Afghanistan is a humiliating strike at the US international policy and a real fall from grace after a twenty-year military campaign in the county.
President Biden recently reacted to the fall of Kabul saying that it is the “responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future.” The events that followed the Taliban entering Kabul showed how America failed to protect those it has sworn to defend.
“This did not fall more quickly than we anticipated,” Biden said.
These words sound like a total betrayal and scuttle which will damage America's long-term global standing and the future security of the world? Twenty years of war ended up with a total failure and humiliation.
Two experts of The Economist tried to explain how the Taliban has humiliated and weakened America a few weeks before the withdrawal of the American forces from the region.
“I think the ultimate reason the Afghan army collapsed so spectacularly in the early weeks of August was that it wasn’t outfought by the Taliban on the battlefield militarily, it was effectively outwitted,” said The Economist’s Defense Editor, Shashank Joshi. “The Taliban leaders turned up to local areas and said to local militia leaders and Afghan troops: ‘Look, you can either fight for the Afghan state that is going to be abandoned by the Americans in a few weeks, or can give up now and save your families, save your lives, and we’ll give you free passage.’”
Joshi explains that the terroristic group used this tactic in different districts “flipping individual Afghan brigades and battalions.”
Foreign Editor, The Economist, Robert Guest believes that it was “extraordinary incompetence” on the part of the American government of not seeing that the Taliban would take control of Kabul. Guest cited several senior American government officials, who assured that there “was absolutely no chance of that happening” a few days before it did happen, and who said, “it’ll be fine. The government will remain in charge.”
“They just didn’t know what they were talking about,” Guest said.
After twenty years of military, intelligence, and diplomacy presence in Afghanistan, the US could not create a functional government there. The reasons for that can be rooted back at the beginning of the 2000’, in the American invasion of Afghanistan. According to the Economist, the US’s error was in highly centralizing the state of power in Kabul. The US allegedly forgot about the communities in northern Afghanistan, of the fringes near key border towns, that have a lot of power, and of course about the tribes that also have a lot of power in the country.
Joshi calls this one of the reasons why the Taliban managed to flip many of these areas so quickly.
“To make [state] able to function without any help at all, that was a long-term project, that ultimately Donald Trump and Joe Biden decided didn’t wish to pursue, so they pulled the plug with the disastrous consequences that we’ve just seen,” Guest added.
So why then is the Taliban taking over Afghanistan so humiliating for the USA?
First of all, the way America was going to leave Afghanistan was damaging for America’s character and America’s police. The country that had been posing as the World’s guard conducted the withdrawal of the troops in such a hasty manner betraying its Afghan allies that fought alongside for so many years. America was entirely focused on evacuating its nationals rather than helping the allies and those it had sworn to defend.
Robert Guest considers Joe Biden to be one of the major problems in this case.
“This was taking place under a democratic president, who prided himself on his foreign policy knowledge and he turned out to be no better in this case than his predecessor possibly was. That’s a huge problem for America’s image at least in the short run. It’s going to affect its ability to deter its enemies and reassure its allies and friends.”
Defense editor, Shashank Joshi only partially agrees that Joe Biden can be blamed for what is now happening in Kabul.
“Joe Biden deserves responsibility for the manner of withdrawal and of the decision to pull America completely out today, there’s no doubt about that. He himself said in his press conference he didn’t want to hand this responsibility on to a fifth American president.”
However, Joshi recalled the agreement signed by the Taliban and former President Donald Trump, according to which America agrees to pull all American troops out by May 1 of 2021 “in exchange for very little.
Joshi reminded all previous Presidents’ attempts to handle the Afghanistan situation and all of them made various mistakes.
“And we saw Barack Obama who also had rather a substantial surge of American forces in 2010 which also failed,” Joshi said.
“But of course, it is Joe Biden who will be associated with the final withdrawal and the chaos accompanied it.”