D H
Aug 18 · Last update 4 mo. ago.

What lessons should we take from the war in Afghanistan?

After two decades of occupation the US military began to withdraw from Afghanistan in February 2021, by August the Afghan government fled, foreign forces staged an emergency evacuation, and the Taliban captured the capital city of Kabul. The world is now left wondering what kind of regime the Taliban will build in Afghanistan, whether they will repeat the human rights abuses of three decades ago, or if they will stay true to their PR campaigns of moderation, inclusivity and non-retaliation. But looking back at the past two decades in Afghanistan what are the main lessons we should take from this war? Was it ultimately a success or a failure? What are the most important implications moving forward? What lessons should we take from the war in Afghanistan?
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Result: a loss of allies' faith
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A failure of diplomacy
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A failure of interventionism
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Big implications for China
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Worse than Vietnam
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The war of lies
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Mission accomplished
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Result: a loss of allies' faith

The War in Afghanistan was embarrassing all round, not just to the US but to all the allied nations involved in the war effort, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Germany. The only outcome of the Afghanistan occupation, other than prolonged war and intense suffering in the country, will be a complete loss of faith in America from its allies, damaging US power and prestige internationally. To add insult to injury Biden doubled down and denied failure, saying “Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves”, “Not trying to fight” [1]. If the US will just blame allies, even within the countries that it is occupying, it will make countries increasingly reluctant to work with them in the future.

After twenty years of occupation if the US withdraws the night before and Biden says "the buck stops with me" [2], but follows this by accusing Afghans of being cowards in almost the same breath, why should anyone work with them? The Biden administration acted as if Afghanistan asked the US to invade the country, blaming the political allies that they themselves installed, ignoring the fact that this was a conflict the US began, they cannot expect their allies not to be discouraged by this clear scapegoating. The United States has demonstrated itself to be an untrustworthy ally in their handling of the entire war in Afghanistan, but especially the end, and this is likely to have massive repercussions far into the future for the country.

ibw21.org/commentary/afghan-war-comes-to-an-embarrassing-end israeltoday.co.il/read/taliban-takeover-of-afghanistan-is-a-problem-for-israel [1] france24.com/en/americas/20210816-live-us-president-joe-biden-addresses-nation-on-afghanistan-collapse [2] cbsnews.com/news/biden-afghanistan-withdrawal-taliban-decision independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/biden-news-speech-afghanistan-trump-b1905148.html?page=2 spiked-online.com/2021/08/16/this-is-worse-that-saigon

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D H
Oct 4
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DH edited this paragraph
The War in Afghanistan was embarrassing all round, not just to the US but to all the allied nations involved in the war effort, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Germany. The only outcome of the Afghanistan occupation, other than prolonged war and intense suffering in the country, will be a complete loss of faith in America from its allies, damaging US power and prestige internationally. To add insult to injury Biden doubled down and denied failure, saying “Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves”, “Not trying to fight” [1]. If the US will just blame allies, even within the countries that it is occupying, it will make countries increasingly reluctant to work with them in the future.

A failure of diplomacy

It was always unrealistic for the US to achieve any peace in Afghanistan without sustained political agreements between, not only the Taliban and Afghan government, but the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Pakistanis, Turkmen, Tajiks and Uzbeks. That's what diplomacy is, agreements with people you do not share the same ideas and outlook, and likewise regional stability can only be achieved in conjunction with the country’s neighbours. Afghanistan has a complex and violent history that is by no means contained within its boarders, and civil war there risks igniting old feuds between Pashtuns and neighbouring Tajiks. Likewise terrorist networks in Afghanistan have long led to attacks outside the country. A national building exercise in isolation surrounded by hostile authoritarian states is therefore nonsensical, a modern peaceful Afghan state could only ever have happened through true cooperation, diplomacy and good international relations. The US and their NATO partners are ultimately to blame for the mess in Afghanistan, as they never pushed for better collaboration or true diplomacy in the region and covered up failures while making up progress.

refworld.org/docid/3bd540b60.html strategypage.com/qnd/afghan/articles/20201001.aspx msn.com/en-gb/news/world/why-the-taliban-s-victory-in-afghanistan-was-inevitable/ar-AANmU76 thenews.com.pk/print/867484-pakistan-s-afghan-policy

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D H
Aug 20
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DH edited this paragraph
It was always unrealistic for the US to achieve any peace in Afghanistan without sustained political agreements between, not only the Taliban and Afghan government, but the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, Pakistanis, Turkmen, Tajiks and Uzbeks. That's what diplomacy is, agreements with people you do not share the same ideas and outlook, and likewise regional stability can only be achieved in conjunction with the country’s neighbours. Afghanistan has a complex and violent history that is by no means contained within its boarders, and civil war there risks igniting old feuds between Pashtuns and neighbouring Tajiks. Likewise terrorist networks in Afghanistan have long led to attacks outside the country. A national building exercise in isolation surrounded by hostile authoritarian states is therefore nonsensical, a modern peaceful Afghan state could only ever have happened through true cooperation, diplomacy and good international relations. The US and their NATO partners are ultimately to blame for the mess in Afghanistan, as they never pushed for better collaboration or true diplomacy in the region and covered up failures while making up progress.

A failure of interventionism

Historians will be deliberating over Afghanistan for years and one question that will be pondered will be whether Afghanistan could have really been a liberal democracy, whether that was something that was abandoned midway or was unrealistic from the beginning. However historians often refer to Afghanistan as "the graveyard of empires" and it is likely that the war effort started by Bush and Cheney and continued by Obama and Biden will eventually be placed in this same context. The failure in Afghanistan may undermine the neoconservative principle that liberal democracy or "Western values" can be imposed on a society by military means, and may leave people in American and elsewhere questioning interventionism or nation-building foreign policy.

realclearpolitics.com/video/2021/08/15/hemingway_afghanistan_disaster_is_the_result_of_20_years_of_failed_interventionist_strategy.html telospress.com/the-consequences-of-afghanistan-comments-on-girard salon.com/2021/08/16/after-20-years-of-dreadful-mistakes-us-heads-for-exit-as-taliban-retakes-afghanistan_partner

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D H
Aug 20
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Big implications for China

China have spoken of the failure of the war in Afghanistan as further evidence of American decline, and China now has an increasingly important role to play in Afghanistan in an effort to bring peace and stability to the region. China has been expanding its influence in Afghanistan as part of its huge belt and road initiative, from mines in Kabul to the Peshawar-Kabul highway project, from a military base in Badakshan to counter regional terrorism to billions of dollars in aid, China's foot is firmly in the door. China has also made the comparison between the US' failure in Afghanistan to the US presence in Taiwan, which it still considers a province of China, and China's CCP have stated their intent to take control of Taiwan by 2049.

thediplomat.com/2018/06/is-china-bringing-peace-to-afghanistan nypost.com/2021/07/05/china-ramping-up-afghanistan-involvement-amid-us-withdrawal nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trump-says-u-s-losing-afghan-war-tense-meeting-generals-n789006 thediplomat.com/2018/01/a-peaceful-afghanistan-key-to-regional-connectivity-in-south-and-central-asia abc.net.au/news/2021-08-18/taiwan-looks-in-fear-as-us-withdraws-from-afghanistan/100383386

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D H
Aug 20
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DH edited this paragraph
China have spoken of the failure of the war in Afghanistan as further evidence of American decline, and China now has an increasingly important role to play in Afghanistan in an effort to bring peace and stability to the region. China has been expanding its influence in Afghanistan as part of its huge belt and road initiative, from mines in Kabul to the Peshawar-Kabul highway project, from a military base in Badakshan to counter regional terrorism to billions of dollars in aid, China's foot is firmly in the door. China has also made the comparison between the US' failure in Afghanistan to the US presence in Taiwan, which it still considers a province of China, and China's CCP have stated their intent to take control of Taiwan by 2049.

Worse than Vietnam

The international press made many comparisons between Vietnam and Afghanistan, but the disorganised withdrawal following the Fall of Kabul is much worse than the Fall of Saigon. According to Rear Admiral Larry Chambers, who in Vietnam oversaw Operation Frequent Wind to make way for more evacuee aircraft from Saigon to land, "we tried to get out as many people who worked with us as we could... In Afghanistan, we are abandoning the folks who supported us while we were there" [1]. In Vietnam the US was forced to retreat by a hardened guerrilla army backed by powerful external forces and significant political pushback at home. Afghanistan was the culmination of internal self destruction, where US politics and the fracturing of belief in the values of freedom and democracy in recent years have undermined any effort to lead or make difficult decisions, resulting in cowardly fleeing and the abandonment of the Afghan people.

[1] airforcetimes.com/news/your-military/2021/08/15/whats-happening-now-is-worse-midway-skipper-who-pushed-choppers-off-deck-in-fall-of-saigon spiked-online.com/2021/08/16/this-is-worse-that-saigon

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D H
Aug 20
Created

The war of lies

The Afghanistan Papers revealed that the War in Afghanistan was held together by lies all the way through. High-ranking officials always thought the war was not winnable, success was being measured with made up metrics, and information was manipulated throughout the war, and this was all intentionally kept from the public. Furthermore the war itself was founded on failed diplomacy with calls into question the entire effort. The Taliban attempted to negotiate a hand over of Osama bin Laden in 2001 shortly after the US bombing campaign of Afghanistan began, but this offer was rejected by the US, who years later changed the aim of the war to one of national-building. Even at the end Biden and Blinken were lying, Biden was saying things he must have known were not true up until the end, and then turned around to blame Afghans when it was clear he lied, denying by flat out lying that the intelligence community did not report the fear of collapse, much in the style of Donald Trump…

theglobalherald.com/entertainment/afghanistan-taleban-offered-to-hand-over-osama-bin-laden-before-2001-invasion democracynow.org/2021/8/19/the_afghanistan_papers_craig_whitlock youtube.com/watch?v=gaWCTStNzSw

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D H
Aug 20
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Mission accomplished

The US achieved the initial goal of defeating al-Qaeda and made huge gains for women's rights and education, Biden blamed Afghanis for not having the nerve to stand up to the Taliban, so what the Taliban does with the country now is up to them. According to Antony Blinken, “we went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind. That was to deal with the people that attacked us on 9/11. That mission has been successful” [1]. The United States and its allies drove the Taliban from power in order to deny al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan, the mission gradually changed over the time there and public opinion has since changed, while it may not be seen as a victory time will most probably consider Afghanistan a costly success.

theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/15/antony-blinken-us-mission-afghanistan-saigon cleveland.com/nation/2009/12/obamas_speech_on_adding_30000.html [1] thehindu.com/news/international/our-mission-in-afghanistan-is-successful-says-us-secretary-of-state-blinken/article35926446.ece

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Aug 19
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