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The US and UK Have Failed to Grasp Something Key About Afghanistan
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The American way of dealing with a lost war is to withdraw its forces. The Afghan way of dealing with it is to change sides as quickly as possible.

The Afghan way of war has created confusion among foreign political and military leaders in the past 20 years, but never more so than during the past few weeks as the Taliban swept through the country, capturing city after city without facing serious resistance.

Intelligence agencies had generally assured western leaders that the Afghan government had the soldiers and weapons to make a fight of it. They did so, even after president Joe Biden announced on 14 April that all American troops would be out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Biden said that a Taliban victory was not “inevitable” and Boris Johnson added that the Taliban had “no military path to victory”. Experienced politicians do not make such confident predictions unless their intelligence chiefs have been telling them the same thing.

The reason so many well-informed people got it so wrong is that they were comparing the military strength of the two sides. But the Taliban victory was not military so much as political. Analysts now wring their hands and explain that Afghan soldiers often were not paid and lacked supplies of food and ammunition. It is also true that the Afghan army had become accustomed to calling in close American air support and felt bereft without it.

The political triumph of the Taliban came about because Afghans with power – military commanders, civilian officials, tribal leaders, local warlords – decided that the US had done a deal with the Taliban and they would be wise to follow suit as quickly as possible. They saw president Donald Trump make concession after concession in negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar without the Afghan government getting anything in return. Biden confirmed this approach when, for domestic political reasons, he decided to grandstand in announcing a complete US pull out.

The most striking feature of the Taliban seizure of power is that it took place with so little fighting. This was the case even in what were once the heartlands of anti-Taliban resistance before their overthrow by the US-backed Northern Alliance in 2001. Easily defended mountain strongholds in the Hindu Kush and large anti-Taliban cities like Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif fell after a few days fighting or without a shot being fired.

The speed and ease of the Taliban advance was self-fulfilling as Afghans became convinced that they were going to be the winners. Deals were done with powerful warlords – or their underlings – who had been expected to resist. This repeated the pattern of the 1990s when the Taliban first took power in the country. At that time cities and towns often changed hands because the Taliban simply paid their enemies to go home. It would be surprising if this has not happened again.

ORDER IT NOW

These changes of allegiance sped the Taliban on their way to Kabul, but the loyalty or neutrality of their new fair-weather adherents is shallow. They will expect to retain their old control under the loose authority of a Taliban central government. Moreover, it may be difficult for the largely Pushtun Taliban to rule Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara areas without conceding a high degree of autonomy to them. The risk-laden alternative for the Taliban would be to use extreme violence against Afghanistan’s minorities, but the Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara and other smaller groups collectively make up not far from 60 per cent of the population.

The Taliban has one important advantage in holding onto power. For the moment, no foreign power or neighbouring state looks likely to support an anti-Taliban resistance movement with arms and money. They won power in the 1990s because of backing from Pakistan and lost it in 2001 because the US backed the Northern Alliance.

The US, Britain and other states warn that they will not tolerate Afghanistan becoming once again a haven for terrorists, as it was when Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were based in the country.

But this time round the Taliban is eager to win international recognition as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. They would pay a heavy price in terms of international isolation if they host al-Qaeda or Isis.

Another argument against other jihadi organisations again congregating in Afghanistan is that 20 years ago, when Osama bin Laden had his headquarters and camps there, an alliance with him was a two-way street. The Taliban gave him refuge, and he gave them money and a core of fanatical fighters. It was, after all, two al-Qaeda suicide bombers who assassinated the Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, just prior to 9/11.

But the Taliban no longer need help from al-Qaeda and there is every reason why they should reject a renewed alliance. On the other hand, there may be Taliban commanders who feel ideologically akin to al Qaeda and its clones and will give them covert aid.

The Taliban are visibly astonished by the completeness of their victory and will take time to digest and consolidate it. The outside world will be wondering what to make of the new Afghan regime and what will be the implications of its success for them and for the region.

It is in the interests of the Taliban for the moment to show a moderate face, but they have fought a ferocious war for two decades, taking heavy casualties. There will be many in their ranks who do not wish to dilute their social and religious beliefs for the sake of politically convenience. Despite the amnesty just declared by Taliban leaders, many will seek vengeance against former government supporters whom they have long denounced as traitors.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Wokechoke says:

    A close read of Flashman indicates that the British mission in Kabul thought the locals were friends right up until they were not friends. Indeed that many senior British officials thought the Afghans were sweet bffs long after they’d proven to be enemies. Partly because the ruler there was supplying men to fight rebels in outlying villages and the Emir was a good liar. All the time the coy Pathan was plotting to scoop up the 700 or so British troops in town or cut them down in the passes if they were dumb enough to make a run for it. Flashman the book, should have been in every generals pocket. His Flashy fresh in his bully boy Private school wisdom, fresh from the clutches of the idealistic Arnold, saw exactly what was happening and planned his personal exit strategy long before the rest caught on.

    • Replies: @Bite Moi
  2. Wokechoke says:

    Btw send my regards to Olivia!

  3. TG says:

    One is reminded that when the US invaded, the population of Afghanistan was about 20 million. It’s now about 40 million and rising rapidly – and much of the population is totally dependent on food aid.

    The Afghanis have the highest fertility rate outside of Africa, but even if they immediately stopped having more than two kids each, demographic momentum means that the population would at least double to 80 million (because most Afghanis are at or below their child-bearing years). And they can’t even feed their current numbers!

    No, more people won’t automatically cause more production. Chains of nuclear powered desalinization plants will not magically spring up from the desert sands just because Omar had three times as many children as he could possibly support. I mean, more people has not guaranteed more production in Mexico, or Egypt, or Pakistan, or Bangladesh, or Yemen, or Indonesia, etc.etc.etc.

    Of course, the United States will start a continuous chain of cargo planes shoveling in 700 Afghanis a shot, shoveled in like cattle, planeload after planeload, and these flights will go on and on… The Taliban will be fine with this, as it will reduce the pressure on their economy, and give them a good place to get rid of rebels and criminals and the insane etc.

    Amateurs talk strategy, and professionals talk logistics.

    • Thanks: Thomasina
    • Replies: @Houston 1992
  4. Chris Moore says: • Website

    The reason so many well-informed people got it so wrong is that they were comparing the military strength of the two sides. But the Taliban victory was not military so much as political.

    The Taliban victory was not political so much as it was spiritual. But Capitalist and Marxist degenerates (Cockburn is a Marxist degenerate) see everything in terms of materialism.

    It’s past time to throw these materialist degenerates under the bus for good. All they can do is grift, lie us into wars for corrupt lucre, lose wars, and then use their failure as an excuse to double down on their grifts.

    Physical death follows spiritual death like night follows day. These are dead men walking. Vampires. Nowhere men desperately pumping the pedal on the last vapors of 2000 years of Christian civilization, which they assassinated.

    • Agree: PJ London
  5. Yee says:

    Kick out foreign militaries and do not kill one’s own compatriots. This is always the right thing to do, no matter how Western leaders hate it…

  6. The US, Britain and other states warn that they will not tolerate Afghanistan becoming once again a haven for terrorists–

    That must be why the US, Britain and other states are bringing in thousands of uneducated, violent quaranimals and giving them endless welfare, to make White countries havens for terrorists.

    • Agree: Gordo
  7. “The US, Britain and other states warn that they will not tolerate Afghanistan becoming once again a haven for terrorists”

    No, they’ll bring them all over to the West.

    • Replies: @PJ London
    , @AKINDLE
  8. Bite Moi says:
    @Wokechoke

    Wokechoke——–Loved Old Flashy. Also love Rudyard Kipling. If George “Dubya” Bush had read “The Young British Solder” he might have avoided nation building.The money quote was,”When you are wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,and the women come out to cut up what remains,jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.”

    • Agree: PJ London
    • Replies: @Wokechoke
    , @Jay Igaboo
  9. General Sir Nick Carter is accused of ‘joining the Taliban PR team’ after saying the militant regime are ‘country boys, who live by a code of honour’ and want a country that’s ‘inclusive to all’

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/afghanistan/video-2483601/Video-Defence-Chief-depicts-Taliban-tribespeople-country-boys.html

    • Replies: @Wokechoke
  10. Jiminy says:

    If the taliban play their cards right ( suck up to the decision makers), they will be rolling in developmental monies and that’s not counting what can be made from selling the rights to what ever minerals lay under the ground. Those goat herders could be the next Quataries of the 21st century. There would be no reason at all for the taliban to jeopardise everything by harbouring terrorist groups, for they could easily follow the US example and simply pick and chose which groups they will fund from afar. With big money would come the ability to influence the proxy wars in the Middle East. Afghanistan has the potential to be a future big player in their region.
    Aren’t the yanks taking a huge risk though by airlifting hordes out from Afghanistan, or does the war on terror no longer exist -how easy would it be to slip a bomb on board one of those transporters? I remember during the Vietnam war a c5 Galaxy full of orphans went down. I’m sure the ticket holders aren’t waiting in line for hours while their shampoo and shoes are double checked and every item is rubbed and sniffed by bomb detectors.

  11. PJ London says:
    @Irish Savant

    and little Tali laughed and laughed and laughed.

  12. Wokechoke says:
    @Bite Moi

    Flashman exists as an immortal, in the sense that he has the bully boy’s heightened sense of survival. He can see weakness in a position he’s caught up in, disasters that others might ignore or downplay.

  13. Wokechoke says:
    @The Alarmist

    He’s going to be crucified for being correct.

  14. AKINDLE says:
    @Irish Savant

    True, and have they learned that you do not fund your enemies?? The US is an anti-White embarrassment.

  15. @TG

    amateurs talks strategy, professionals play the long game via demographic displacement, cultural and economic war.

  16. “The Afghan way of war has created confusion”
    What’s confusing about always defecting to the current military aristocracy?
    There’ll be another one along in a minute; if not three of them.

    God speed the Chinks. They now have charge of this retarded shitheap. And are not constrained by the Geneva Convention, Articles of War, religious scruples, international agreements, or even basic humanity.
    Like their recent African acquisitions.

    And they know that cultural or physical genocide actually works, grorious Han peepor that they are. Ask the rest of what used to be non-China, to the east, west, south. Or north, Tibetans.

  17. @Bite Moi

    I loved Kipling too: back in the early sixties, I was introduced to him in English class in the state school. Nowadays the teacher would be “cancelled” for wrong-think and, more seriously wrong-teach.
    I have found it very interesting that most of the well-educated Indians and Pakistanis I have spoken to, are very well-read in Kipling, and regard him as a peerless chronicler of The Raj, and of course, who doesn’t love “Jungle Book” and much of his other work?
    I was 12 or 13 when I read “The Young British Soldier”:-when I was 19, I WAS a young British soldier on standby for Aden, which. to my (then) disappointment, was cancelled.

    I was young and gung-ho, and under the naive impression that OUR politicians were decent types,
    As two of my regiment eventual regiment had been captured up in The Radfan mountains, tortured, emasculated and executed. with their heads on a stake in the village square, I was raring to go.
    .
    The withdrawal from Aden was orderly and without British casualties: but then neither British or US leaders were “captured” by the PC narrative.

    Wokechoke——–Loved Old Flashy. Also love Rudyard Kipling. If George “Dubya” Bush had read “The Young British Solder” he might have avoided nation building.The money quote was,”When you are wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,and the women come out to cut up what remains,jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.”

  18. Buck Fiden announced on 14 April that all American troops would be out of Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

    Although it wouldn’t stay a secret for long, it makes no sense to announce military plans to the enemy, especially during a forever war.

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